ARLP Course 20 graduate in Darwin
The 20th cohort of the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) graduated in Darwin on Friday, bringing a unique and immersive 17-month experience to a close, while setting each leader on the path to continue making positive change in their communities and industries.
The Australian Rural Leadership Foundation's iconic ARLP has been developing diverse leaders since 1992, and Course 20 now join a Network of 600 ARLP Fellows and almost 800 alumni in total across other Foundation programs.
Course 20's final ARLP session took place in northern Australia, with time spent in the Tiwi Islands and Darwin providing an inspiring context for graduating leaders to consider the types of leadership required for a thriving regional, rural and remote Australia.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Peter Styles, himself a graduate of ARLP Course 15, hosted a formal function at Parliement House in honour of the graduates on Thursday evening, 18 September. The Minister congratulated the cohort and shared some of the meaning the ARLP has had in his own life.
"This experience was a life-changing one for me," Minister Styles said.
"I was a police officer when I started the Program, although I had political aspirations, and this experience was the thing that equipped me to take the next steps in becoming the leader I wanted to be," he said.
"In a place like the Territory, it is abundantly clear that change will only happen under good leadership, and the job of leaders, ultimately, is to encourage other leaders. Make sure you utilise the Network you are about to become a part of."
For Course 20 Fellow Sam Duinker, a community development officer and Chairperson in the Balginjir Community near Derby, the reason for undertaking the ARLP was her passion for creating social change through the opening up of sustainable opportunities within communities.
"This program has been an amazing learning curve for me," Sam said.
"It has given me the confidence in myself to have real faith in what I'm trying to do. It has also exposed me to so many different view points and backgrounds within this group of people," she said.
"I've learned that compromise between those coming from indigenous and non indigenous backgrounds is important and possible. However, I also know those things it must never come at the expense of, I have a much better sene of achieving balance, and what is really important," Sam said.
For John B Fairfax, one of the founding members of the Foundation, he said it was heartening to see that while the ARLP experience has evolved over 20 years, its core values are in tact.
"This graduation shows a great cross section of individuals, and continued success in the ARLP selecting the right people," he said.
"Being here for this event feels like coming home," he said.
On Saturday 20 September, following the Friday graduation ceremony, many fresh graduates and their loved ones joined alumni from past programs for a LEAD day to discuss the future path for the Foundation, and how it can continue to make a difference to the 'three Rs' of Australia.
The value of sponsors, availability of the Network to collaborate on issues and the continued diversity of ARLP cohorts were discussed as priorities for future success.
"This Program needs to continue to attract people of different ages, backgrounds and geographic locations," Course 9 Fellow, Clair O'Brien said.
"It's a great leveller, and it means everyone has a different perspective and brings different values. This is so valuable for collaboration now and in the future," she said.