Launch – Newbridge

Community Leadership Program 2016 Launch – Newbridge

Twenty-seven dynamic community leaders from across nine Shires in the Central and North-West region were welcomed into the Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program (LMCLP) last Friday night at a dinner function in Newbridge.  They are all ages and come from a diverse range of backgrounds, industries, life experiences and world views.  What they have in common is a commitment to building their skills, insights and networks to be more effective in their work in their industries and communities.  The 10-month leadership program runs over 25 program days during which participants travel around the region and to Melbourne and Canberra, hearing from community leaders, key organisations, and learning about the diverse issues and opportunities facing our region, and how to make an effective contribution and impact.

Welcoming participants on the night was keynote speaker and well-known Bendigo local and community leader, Margot Spalding.  Margot shared stories of her own leadership journey from starting her now hugely successful furniture business, Jimmy Possum, out of her shed in Harcourt, to winning Telstra Australian Business Woman of the year in 2016, to leading Bendigo’s recent response to the anti-Mosque protesters through iBelieve Bendio.  Margot is a down to earth, funny, pragmatic and wise presenter and she inspired the audience with her personal story, her energy and her words.  “You cannot do life on your own,” she told them, “surround yourself with people – the right people – you are who you are because of the people you are with and the choices you make.”  Margot also received lots of nods from the room when she shared her belief that “you are advantaged in life if you grow up in regional and rural Australia.”

The venue on the night was itself an inspiring story of community resilience and leadership.  The Newbridge Recreational Reserve was built after the floods of 2011 devastated the old sporting facilities of the town.  A Committee formed and successfully sought funding from multiple sources to build the stunning facilities on the banks of the Loddon which now houses a campground, footy and netball courts facilities, tennis courts and a wonderful venue.  Rec Reserve President Doug Curnow explained to the group how the grant raising and building process involved 5000 volunteer man and woman hours.  The Reserve (and the local pub!) is managed by the football and netball club, who did a stunning job catering for the 95 guests of Community Leadership Loddon Murray on Friday night.

The annual leadership program, facilitated by Community Leadership Loddon Murray (CLLM), has been successfully developing leaders for vibrant and sustainable communities across central and north-west Victoria since 1998, with more than 390 graduates across the region undertaking a range of community projects and leadership roles.  Participants representing industries such as agriculture, business, health, community, government, natural resource management, and education apply for this opportunity and are selected on the basis of their commitment to community, their industry and the region.  There was a huge response to the call for applicants late last year and the highly competitive process has resulted in an outstanding group of individuals ready to take their work and volunteering to the next level.  They are:

  • Kristy Pilgrim and Jason Hensley from Gannawarra Shire
  • Meg Doller, Lisa Cox, James O’Bryen, Cathy Spencer, Rebecca Sexton, Fiona Bradshaw, Timothy Hoogwerf, Baydon Widdicombe and Peter Lilly from City of Greater Bendigo
  • Ric Raftis, Alana Newbold, Sharlene Crage, Stewart Luckman and Tamara Boyd from Loddon Shire
  • Tracey Bowen, Paul Kooperman and Jenny Lonnergan from Macedon Ranges Shire
  • Steve Carroll, Katie Petrusma, Emma Shannon, and Kate McInnes from Mount Alexander Shire
  • Karen Carpenter from Shire of Campaspe
  • Chris Jeffrey and Tessa Harris from Swan Hill Rural City Council
  • Cheryl Kemp from Buloke Shire

The participants will now head to the Opening Weekend Retreat at Maldon on 13-14 February to get to know more about themselves and others, and to formally start the program year.