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Social, political issues under microscope for ARLP C21

Social, political issues under microscope for ARLP C21

The third session of the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) took place in Canberra and Sydney last week, as 33 leaders from around Australia as well as Papua New Guinea immersed themselves in political processes and social responsibility.

The ARLP is a 59 day program, delivered in six sessions over 17 months. Five of these sessions take place in locations across Australia, and one component will take place in Indonesia.

Over eight days, the 21st cohort of the Program took in political leadership and examined social disadvantage in the urban throng of Sydney.

The session began with a full day at Parliament House, where the group—who are already established leaders in their fields in rural, regional and remote Australia—familiarised themselves with the workings of the Senate, and met with a range of political figures.

Foundation CEO Matt Linnegar said the social and political focus of this particular ARLP session adds an essential dimension to the development of Program participants.

“We have a group who have variable confidence and familiarity with the Australian political system, and the ‘halls of power’ so to speak,” Matt said.

“By the end of the experience however, they are all able to engage with political process, and understand the best ways in which they can get their messages and desired outcomes on the table,” he said.

“They will have learned a lot from each other while they were here, and they have met ARLP alumni who are now themselves in positions of political influence. We ensure that they experienced perspectives from all sides of politics.”

Senator Fiona Nash, Assistant Minister for Health, and Joel Fitzgibbon MP, Shadow Minister for Agriculture ran a session with the group on ‘political conversations’ and Senator Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture spoke to the group about his progression from carpenter to Tasmanian Senator. Member for Indi, ARLP Fellow Cathy McGowan also met with the group.

Course 21 attended an Advocacy and Influence panel with Fran Freeman of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Ross Hampton, CEO of the Australian Forest Products Association and Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia.

“Meeting politicians individually in Parliament House and seeing behind the scenes of legislative processes has been exciting, informative and very useful for ARLP Course 21,” ARLP facilitator Graham Smith said.

And for some within Course 21, the heart of political influence represented a place they may one day aspire to work within.

“I want to be there,” said Theodore grazier and Regional Manager for Cotton Australia, Bron Christensen.

Observing the workings of the Senate, Bron said she felt further enthused about the potential of representing her region at a higher level.

The group then travelled on to Sydney where they experienced a Welcome to Country from a Gadigal elder, followed by an ethics workshop run by the St James Ethics Centre. They also spent an evening with the Salvation Army’s Oasis Youth Refuge, in order to better understand the complexity and different drivers of social disadvantage.

Throughout the rest of the session, which ran from 15-22 November, the group toured the complex machine of the Sydney Fish Market. They then met with a representative of lobby group GetUp! and attend a session with Westpac to learn about the bank’s approach to Corporate Social Responsibility.

"Overall, session 3 went really well. It certainly provided a diverse range of experiences," Graham Smith said.

"The themes of advocacy, influence and ethics were served well by the program and active involvement by the participants."

The Australian Rural Leadership Foundation is focused on producing a network of informed, capable and ethical leaders who can work collaboratively to advance the interests of their industries, communities and rural Australia. It includes challenge-based education, workshops, and an overseas field study. 

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