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Beyond the Bale : December 2017
The Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) is rural Australia’s iconic leadership development program that aims to produce a network of informed, capable and ethical leaders who are able to work collaboratively to advance the interests of regional Australia. AWI funds the participation of wool industry leaders in the ARLP. These wool industry leaders engage with AWI, the wool industry and community about the learnings from the ARLP and continue to use these learnings for the benefit of rural and regional Australia, and the sheep and wool industry in particular. The ARLP course provides a series of challenging experiences to develop leadership capabilities. It consists of about 50 days face-to-face, delivered in multiple sessions over 15 months. Five of these sessions take place in locations across Australia, including the Kimberley, a state capital city and a regional area, and involvement in Canberra’s political scene. One session takes place overseas with a visit to one of Australia’s closest neighbours, Indonesia. 2016-17 WOOL INDUSTRY GRADUATES Bert Matthews, who with his wife Liz runs ‘Bedarbidgal’ at Hay in NSW, and neighbour Carol Huggins who runs the nearby ‘Eurolie’ and ‘Woodpark Poll Merino Stud’, with her husband Stephen, graduated from the 2016-17 program in October thanks to sponsorship from AWI. “Has this program changed me? My answer is most definitely ‘yes’,” Bert said. “There are so many things that have truly made this program a wonderful life changing experience and I am kicking myself because I should have done it earlier.” Before he went on the program, Bert already had a lot of leadership experience. He is the Captain of the local Bushfire Brigade and is on committees for the Hay Merino Sheep Show, Hay Merino Breeders, and Peppin Shaw Riverina Ewe Flock Forum. He was also President of his local golf and rugby league clubs. “I had been thinking of withdrawing from community activity to let others – younger people with fresh ideas – be the catalyst for change. But a past graduate suggested I should apply to the program, and I am so glad that I did because it is one of the best things I have ever done in my life.” Carol also is very enthusiastic about her experience on the course and says she feels privileged to have done it. “There were lots of highlights and it is hard to pick one,” she said. “The program fast tracks a broad range of training and condenses years of experience into 15 months.” Carol serves on several industry boards and committees and is a founding board member of the grower driven sheep research and extension organisation, MerinoLink. She came to Hay from a childhood in WA’s wheatbelt via a career in rural communication, facilitation and agribusiness. “From a personal perspective, I would say the key thing the program has given me is a greater awareness of how I can use my various skill sets in strategic planning, business planning and media for the betterment of my industry and community,” she said. “More generally though, the exposure to and interaction with the other people on the course – and the benefits of having an extensive and supportive alumni network going forward – has been invaluable. The facilitated approach to the entire program was a real strength of the course too. “The experience in the Kimberley was very interesting because we were all spending time with other leaders from different backgrounds that we wouldn’t usually meet. It made you challenge yourself, test your own approaches to leadership, and take into account a range of perspectives.” Bert agreed and said the greatest attribute of the program for him was the bringing together of participants from such a 54 Bert Matthews and Carol Huggins, both from Hay in NSW, are the latest woolgrowers to graduate from the Australian Rural Leadership Program, and will use their knowledge and experience for the advancement of woolgrowers. AUSTRALIAN RURAL LEADERSHIP PROGRAM 2016-17 ARLP course participants starting the program in the Kimberley in August last year. 54 ON FARM