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Beyond the Bale : Dec 08 - Jan 09
Education Beyond the Bale 21 testing course forges rural leaders as manager of ‘Woomargama Station’, a grazing property in southern NSW, chris mirams values skilled and motivated people who can make a difference to rural life. this is why he was pleased to be selected as the 2008 recipient of aWi’s Wool leader Scholarship to participate in the 15th australian Rural leadership program By Fiona Conroy t he intensive Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) training program is designed to produce a group of people from regional Australia with a shared vision for achievement and the capacity and commitment to lead change. Chris Mirams has been managing ‘Woomargama Station’ for Mrs Margaret Darling since 1993, and has been actively developing a farming system that combines demanding production targets with natural resource management. The 2,700-hectare property 10 kilometres south of Holbrook, runs 10,000 fine-wool Merinos and 1,000 Hereford cattle. The property has undergone an extensive pasture improvement program and a change in grazing management to make the most of its 750 millimetres of annual rainfall. Chris has been involved in a number of industry programs at local, regional and national levels. He was in the founding group of Farm Management 500, is a member of the local Landcare group, chairs the EverGraze Advisory Committee and has recently been appointed to AWI’s Wool Production Advisory Committee. Chris was one of 34 people, aged from 26 to 56 years, accepted into the 2008 ARLP, which began in May with a two-week exercise in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. “I’d met a few people who had gone through the program and they were capable, motivated, driven to succeed and had the capacity to evoke change in a regional environment,” Chris says. Program participants include Indigenous Australians, primary producers, community-based workers, employees of rurally oriented service providers, staff from government departments, and individuals from research and development organisations. The ARLP is delivered over 18 months, with participants attending for 60 days spread over seven sessions. The objective is a network of informed, capable and ethical leaders who are able to work collaboratively to advance the interests of their industries, communities and rural Australia. “It’s a big commitment, with a lot of reading and thought required outside the contact hours to ensure we are across the topics before we get together,” Chris says. “It’s a commitment for everyone involved – the families, businesses and organisations who are prepared to let these people invest their time by participating in the course. “The course is intense and, effectively, an 18-month crash course covering what most community leaders would learn from 18 years of experience.” Sessions Chris has attended so far include a fortnight in the Kimberley, a session in Adelaide covering emotional intelligence, psychology and intensive media training, and a session in Melbourne dealing with multiculturalism, globalisation, negotiating skills and the duties and responsibilities of directors. “The Kimberley session is extraordinary and a life- changing experience for many participants,” he says. During the Melbourne trip, participants had a session with the National Australia Bank’s chief economist. “It was fantastic to have a person like this speaking to our group, explaining the issues in the midst of the financial turmoil,” Chris says. “The Melbourne session also included a trip to Shepparton in northern Victoria where we worked through multiculturalism and how this regional town is working to accommodate a population of 3,000 Iraqi immigrants into the community.” Much of the course is spent developing skills and exposing participants to a range of issues and perspectives, as well as encouraging ongoing discussions on values and beliefs. “The whole exercise during the program has been to get us to think differently and work through issues which affect regional communities.” Chris believes that at the end of the program he will be able to use his new skills and greater understanding and confidence in almost every aspect of his life. This includes his management of ‘Woomargama Station’ and involvement in his rural community and in industry representation at state and national levels. “I can see that I’ll finish the ARLP with greater motivation, capacity and effectiveness, with the reassurance to take on greater responsibility. More than 400 people have gone through the program, and a large number have ended up in influential roles in their communities and industries. “It’s so important for the wool industry, other rural industries and regional Australia to have a base of trained people with the capacity to put forward a professional voice and evoke change.” More information: Australian Rural Leadership Program, www.rural-leaders.com.au chris mirams, aWi’s current aRlp participant, in a pasture paddock on ‘Woomargama Station’, which he manages at Woomargama, near holbrook in southern NSW. PHOTO: KELLIE PENFOLD ú
February March 2009
Oct - Nov 08