Leadership Ballarat and Western Region celebrates 10 years of the leadership program

Cheers:  The 10th graduating group from the Leaders Forum's community leadership program.  Picture: Lachlan Bence.
Cheers: The 10th graduating group from the Leaders Forum's community leadership program. Picture: Lachlan Bence.

For the past 10 years the leadership program run by Leadership Ballarat and Western Region (LBWR) has been responsible for the development of some of the region’s most influential people.

Each year the program allows 30 people from various industries around Ballarat come together for 10 months to explore the challenges and issues which face the region, while also developing their own leadership skills.

“The whole aim of the year is to bring together people from different industries with different stories to tell to learn from the leaders in our region,” LBWR executive officer Sofia Fiusco said.

Graduates varied in age from 25 to 55, with diverse backgrounds such as art, agriculture and the public sector.

Graduating student Dougal Purcell said the program had allowed him to gain a greater insight into the community he lived in.

“We live in an awesome region with some great opportunities, but we’ve also got some significant challenges.”

Over the course of the year students were given the opportunity to travel to Canberra to meet with politicians including the former prime minister Tony Abbott, while also taking part in activities closer to home such as council meetings.

One of the major projects undertaken by the group was the Act@Work program, which was created in conjunction with Women’s Health Grampians to address the issue of sexism and violence against women in the workplace.

“It’s all about where individuals step up and have a crack, because they really do make a difference,” said Mr Purcell.

Mr Purcell, who works in the agriculture industry, said the opportunity to network with the future leaders of the region was the most rewarding aspect of the program.

“Already the group has been able to use the contacts they have made in their day to day work, and without a doubt that will be a big legacy of the program.”

Over the past 10 years more than 270 people have graduated from the program, contributing an estimated $1.5 million per annum into the local economy.