C21 return from the Kimberley
Volcanic eruptions have certainly never factored into the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) before, but for the 20th Program Cohort - just returned from their first session in the Kimberley - nature made this inspiring session just a little more challenging than usual.
From 19-31 May, 32 rural leaders from diverse industries and backgrounds immersed themselves in the spiritual, imposing surrounds of the Kimberley in Western Australia.
As the session which marks the start of the iconic ARLP - run in 59 days delivered in six sessions over 17 months - it is based heavily around challenge-based activities, self-awareness and communication.
What they usually don't face is an ash cloud disrupting flights right around northern Australia due to the eruption of the Sangeang Api volcano in Indonesia. Wreaking havoc echoing that of the Icelandic volcano of 2010, (although in a localised space), our leaders had to face one more challenge when the first session was complete: how to get home.
We are pleased to say that through a combination of patience and intrepid investigation of alternative routes, Course 21 participants and staff are all back home safe and sound.
After two intensive weeks spent delving into leadership thinking, problem solving and appreciating diversity, our leaders return with valuable new insights into their own ways of processing. The scope of the ARLP process and the impact it will have on each person's leadership journey also becomes more clear.
And what binds each leader most of all is their shared passion and commitment to working towards a more resilient rural Australia.
For cattle farmer and rural finance consultant Jennifer Wainwright of Bouldercombe, Queensland, taking part in Course 21 of the ARLP is both about giving back to her industry, as well as finding out more about her own leadership traits.
"Leadership in our industry will be critical to the protection and development of Australian agriculture as the best in the world ... I hope to gain skills that will give me guidance to navigate difficult circumstances while providing an opportunity for me to better understand others," Jennifer says.
For Outback Initiatives facilitator Russell Fisher, the culmination of his tenth year providing guidance and instruction as a part of the ARLP Kimberley session has driven home to him the high quality of leaders who take part in the program each year.