Opening Retreat Weekend – Maldon, 13 & 14 Feb 2016

It is not often you get a mayor who is married to a clown.  It was the perfect combination last weekend as Councillor Christine Henderson and husband Team welcomed participants of the Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program (LMCLP) to Maldon for their opening weekend retreat.  The duo combined their personal stories of leadership with song, and introduced participants to juggling as a metaphor for the many demands and rewards of community leadership.

The weekend was the first of a series of program days ahead for the leadership program participants for the year, which will include workshops, site visits, guest speakers, panel discussions and town tours across the region and to Melbourne and Canberra.  The program covers a diverse range of themes including exploring community development, economic development and tourism, education and technology, agriculture and natural resource management, health and wellbeing, arts and culture, the environment, justice and social justice and our political landscape.  The aim of the program is to build the skills, insights and networks of community leaders so that they can be more effective and impactful in their work.

The Bluelight youth camp in Maldon was a great setting last weekend for the participants to get to know each other, to explore concepts and activities around team-building, different personality styles and self-reflection.  Castlemaine locals, facilitator Tim Adam and LMCLP Program Manager Lucy Mayes facilitated much of the program and were delighted with the willingness of participants to learn and explore deeply, and their open-ness to each other and new concepts, and the existing skills already within this new group of community leaders.  “It is such a privilege to work with people who are the real ‘do-ers’ of their communities,” said Lucy.  “These are the people who see what needs to be done in their communities, and put up their hands and give their time to help make things happen.  Our region is full of good news stories of great people doing great things.  It is just fantastic that these already busy people give up their time to further develop their skills for the benefit of our region.”

The program aims for diversity in its recruitment and participants this year range in age from 19 to over 60 and represent a wide variety of sectors including business, government, agriculture, community, health and education, with all of them volunteering in various ways.  Participants often learn as much from each other as they do from the external presenters throughout the year.

Local Maldon business owner and graduate of the program, Megan Purcell shared dinner with the group on the Saturday evening and shared candidly about her own leadership story from growing up in our region in a political family, to working in Canberra early in her career, to her latest achievement as the pre-selected Federal Liberal Candidate for Bendigo (there were also some questions to her about whether the ‘farmer wanted her as his wife’ – she did not reveal!).  Former LMCLP Program Manager Heather McNaught and husband Bob and daughter Carly ran a clever, insightful session on our differing personality styles including hilarious conversations about how particular we can be about how we like to hang our washing!

Next month the program continues with a day in Charlton exploring innovative communities, project management and the transitioning towns toolbox.