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Outstanding regional and rural leadership


Celebrating TRAIL 2014

Celebrating TRAIL 2014

The 2014 TRAIL program began in the beautiful rural setting of the Murrumbidgee valley near Tharwa on 28 March, and finished eight days later in busy, urban, downtown Canberra City. Over this relatively short period, a group of 18 very capable individuals from diverse backgrounds were transformed into a high performing team of leaders by an intensive series of shared learning experiences. These experiences tested limits, built trust and generated deep examination of the theory and practice of leadership by the course participants.

“This was my first experience as a co-facilitator of an ARLF program, and I was mightily impressed with the positive and very observable changes the TRAIL program had on every single person in the group.” says Graham Smith, newly appointed Manager of Leadership Programs at the Australian Rural leadership Foundation.

“The program is physically, mentally and emotionally challenging and every one of the participants stepped up to meet these challenges," he says.

"If this group is a sample of the next generation of leaders for rural, regional and remote communities and industries, we are in good hands. I was very proud and impressed to see how effective TRAIL was as a catalyst for developing leadership behaviours."

Designed for emerging leaders, TRAIL is one of the Foundation's programs specifically tailored for people who want to increase their foundational knowledge, gain exposure to key role models and develop partnerships with peers for long-term networking and support.

TRAIL 2014 brought together leaders from diverse industries and backgrounds, from the Torres Strait, from the health, rural services and finance sectors, to the dairy, cotton and feedlot industries.

To Troy Mountain, Senior Relationship Manager with Westpac, based in Port Macquarie, TRAIL offered an ideal opportunity to explore and develop his leadership.

"I was told by others who had experienced TRAIL and other Foundation programs that it would be a life-changing experience, and my company sponsored me to give me this opportunity. I was also told that it would take me well out of my comfort zone," the country boy, originally from Tamworth, laughs.

"But that's alright, because I thrive on being made uncomfortable as a means to grow and change," Troy observes, nearing the end of the TRAIL experience.

"Leadership is not, and should not be a lonely place ... I went in to TRAIL with an open mind, prepared to be challenged and changed for the better," he says.

Matt Stuart, who was sponsored on TRAIL by the Tradies, Dickson, said that while he lives in the Canberra region, the eight-day experience felt like another world.

"This journey is something I would recommend to others, including my colleagues," the Group Manager, Gaming, with the Tradies says.

"I found the values-focussed part of the program so helpful, as a way to reevaluate and examine the importance of our own values. It affects the way we build relationships, and I'm going to find this useful not only at work, but in my personal life as well," he says.

And for Rellis Petrou, sponsored on TRAIL by her employer, the Torres Strait Regional Authority, the program was yet another valuable piece in the leadership puzzle.

Rellis completed the Foundation's Torres Strait Young Leaders' Porgram back in 2011, aged 24, and applied for TRAIL in the knowledge that it would be one more step towards her goal of 'closing the gap' and abating many of the problems affecting young people in her community.

"The TSYLP changed my perspective completely. It helped me to get rid of baggage I had in my social and work life. It's the best thing I ever did," she says.

Urged by her employer to advance her leadership journey through TRAIL, the Contracts and Assurance Officer says she has her eyes firmly on the next stage of her work life, and the leadership she will need to develop to support her community.

"Back then [TSYLP] it was personal, I quit smoking and got fitter, now it's about how I see that drugs and alcohol are a big problem for the youth around me. So is that sense of respect for others that seems to be lost among some," she says.

"I don't currently work in a managerial role, but I would like to, and I intend to stand up more. TRAIL has helped me with important but basic things like public speaking," she says.

"The profiling we do around our behavioural preferences is absolutely great, and has definitely given me some tools I'll be using when I get back."

And while she says it will be another few years before she'll be ready for the Australian Rural Leadership Program - for established leaders - she says that is something she definitely has her sights set on.

2014 saw the largest TRAIL cohort ever. The in-demand program will run again in 2015 - contact the Foundation to secure your place!

TRAIL 2014 participants





Keiji Bowie



Rellis Petrou



Leon Filewood



Elsie Seriat



Amanda Moohen

Camm Agricultural Group  - ALFA


Richard Nicholls

JBS Aust Caroona Feedlot  -  ALFA


Emily King

Aust Wool Innovation - Tech Project Officer


Anna Hart

Alfred Health - Doctor  -  RAMUS


Jane Peeck

Westpac  -  Bank Manager


Alison Percival

Tradies Dickson


Scott Piper

Landmark -  Division Admin Manager


Debbie Platts

Self Employed - Platts P'Ship  - Bega Cheese


Troy Mountain

Westpac - Senior Relationship Manager


Wendy  Toupas

CSU - Admin/Finance Officer


James Shephard

Gemrate P/L -  Farm Manager - Bega Cheese


Matt Stuart

Tradies Woden


James Burne



Sally Dickinson

Cotton Seed Distributors -   Cotton


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