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Outstanding regional and rural leadership


Territory Tuesday: Katherine Winchester

Territory Tuesday: Katherine Winchester

With just 17 days to go until the 20th cohort of the Australian Rural Leadership Program graduate in Darwin on Friday, 19 September, we're dedicating each Tuesday to profiling a Fellow or graduate based in the Northern Territory. It's a huge place, and a unique, highly-rural environment, shaping its own unique leaders. So to get you in the graduation mood, here is one of the Top End's top leaders!

(More Territory Tuesdays here: Alister TrierSally BanfieldRowan FoleyAnnette Burke and Clair O'Brien)

Katherine Winchester, ARLP Course 19. Darwin.

In 2003 I resigned from a permanent job with the South Australian Government (a Scientific Officer at the Environment Protection Authority) and moved to Darwin. I had never visited the Northern Territory before moving there and I was confident that what I thought of as a natural wonderland would provide me with the opportunity to re-engage with hands-on environmental work. I moved up to Darwin unemployed and full of enthusiasm and confidence that I would find a suitable role quickly. It took me 12 months to find work in a related field of interest and I quickly learnt the value of networks and volunteer work.

Now that I'm settled up north as CEO of the Northern Territory Seafood Council, my leadership efforts are focussed on not burning out people: ensuring our organisation and staff has achievable goals and the resources needed to support them.

It's also about changing behaviours; taking action to support processes that remove bullying or aggressive behaviour in any industry exchanges or meetings.

On a practical level, I'm passionate about pushing for national change and rolling out Country of Origin Labelling for seafood throughout Australia.

One of the key challenges currently facing the Northern Territory is how it develops. The lifestyle and landscapes of the Northern Territory are celebrated and appreciated by Territorians. Supporting development that recognises these values and secures the Territory’s economic future is a delicate balance. There is resistance to change and fear that “mega” development will destroy the values for which the Territory is famous for, with many believing we are “lucky by default rather than design”, with respect to the environmental conditions we have here. I believe there is the leadership within the Territory to navigate this challenge. The engagement strategies utilised to support this current debate are critical to this process.

Other key challenges for the Territory include affordability – the cost of living is very high; lack of workforce and competition for existing businesses with high paying salaries from the offshore oil and gas/mining sector; a growing indigenous population and a lack of economic opportunities and services in remote communities.

What I love about being a leader in this environment is the opportunity to contribute, to utilise and grow my network, to share and support others in their journey.

For Course 20 graduating in the beautiful surrounds of Darwin, the completion of their Program is a significant milestone and the start to a leadership journey with purpose. I would say to them - enjoy the final session and the opportunity to have fierce, stimulating conversations with your fellow graduates and former graduates who attend your graduation.

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