Castlemaine and surrounds showcased some of its many talented community leaders to the 2017 participants of the Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program (LMCLP) as part of a healthy communities themed program day in the Mount Alexander Shire on Friday 26th May 2017.

The leadership group began a full day of presentations with an Acknowledgement of Country on National Sorry Day on the misty heights of Mount Alexander followed by a briefing from Brendan Smith of Parks Victoria and Russell Manning of DELWP about the exciting Harcourt Mountain Bike Project.   A visit to the innovative Mount Alexander Fruit Gardens hosted by Katie Finlay concluded the LMCLP visit to Harcourt.

At Castlemaine, a session focusing on mental health and wellbeing was led by the dynamic Jeremy Forbes of Hope Assistance for Local Tradies (HALT) and local GP, Dr Richard Mayes.  Mount Alexander Shire Councillor Christine Henderson shared some of her own leadership journey and Nicki Valentini of Growing Abundance addressed the group over a delicious lunch at the recently opened Local Cafe.

Gender, leadership and sport was the focus after lunch with a fascinating discussion led by Kathryn Hall and Alana Wearne both of whom shared their experiences and insights playing, managing and coaching girls in traditional male sports.  The day wound up with an inspiring tale of leadership, song and the story of the Singing from Country project led by Fay and Terry White and Kathryn Coff.

The LMCLP participants finished their evening with a talk and tour of The Mill complex with Phil McConaughy and an informal networking gathering at The Taproom with local graduates of the program.  The leadership program has now been running for 20 years and there are almost 40 Mount Alexander Shire locals who have benefited from the experience.

Participants expressed their thanks to the Harcourt and Castlemaine communities for hosting the LMCLP group.  Local program participant Donna Fearne from Taradale who is participating in the program through a sponsorship by North Central Catchment Management Authority reflected that it was a pleasure to share a small part of the vibrant Mount Alexander Shire Community with her colleagues from across the Loddon Murray Region.  “The day has been a thoughtful and inspiring consideration of the challenges faced by all communities when dealing with physical and mental wellbeing and inequity in our communities,” she said.

Written by Donna Fearne, 2017 Participant