Drought, bushfires, floods and now COVID-19 – it has had an impact on all of us. Alpine Valleys Community Leadership has taken all these circumstances on board and reviewed and restructured its annual program to account for the new ‘normal’.
The next annual leadership program will commence in February, running for ten months through to November. Applications open on 3rd of August.
Interim Executive Officer Roberta Baker says the bushfires and Coronavirus pandemic had led to a redesign of some of the content of the annual program, with an emphasis on ‘leadership in a crisis’ and a stronger focus on community project work.
“Now more than ever we need to prepare accidental and emerging leaders for the ‘new’ future. Our region will need leaders to step up and support their community as we all work through the impacts of these disasters,” Ms Baker said.
In response to these circumstances AVCL’s Program Co-ordinator Karlie Langdon has built new topics into the 2021 course, along with a community projects element, and an online model of delivery, which has been used for the last program days of the current leadership program.
“We review our program content each year and this year the focus on community projects will see our participants, in small teams, working closely with their own communities on ideas they would like to see come to fruition,” Ms Langdon said.
“For example, another Community Leadership Program in Victoria worked with artists to create murals on the sides of buildings, in laneways and on water towers. Another project led to the inclusion of a cycling program for seniors that became part of a bigger health strategy for that region.”
Ms Langdon said the community focus in the annual program was about participants simultaneously marrying what they learn within the program, with action on the ground.
“The teams will each present a report on their community project at the Graduation in November. Some projects may take longer than the year of the annual program to fully implement, and that’s acceptable,” she said.
“Graduates from past annual leadership programs will be mentors for the teams. In this way, stronger relationships will be forged between past and present participants. And it will have a more immediate and direct benefit for the communities the participants live in.”
“Our graduates have skills that can be a resource for communities to call on, especially to assist with the resilience that is needed for communities, towns and individuals to deal with the new normal.”
Another element of the new program is the use of technology to deliver some of the content.
“Online delivery has been very successful since the pandemic and that mode of learning will be used in the next program too,” Ms Langdon said.
“When you are used to facilitating a group of up to 28 people in a room together, it can be quite daunting moving to the online environment,” Ms Langdon said.
“However, apart from the obvious benefit that people don’t have to travel to a central place, the online learning environment has proven to be a game changer.”
“We recently joined with Goulburn Murray Community Leadership (Fairley Leadership) for an online training day and we found that the online forum was such a rich environment for sharing the content from the three presenters throughout the day.”
“Just imagine 57 people online at the same time. With 57 faces, 57 voices, a presenter and two facilitators – you would think it would be chaos, but in fact it was the exact opposite.”
“Everyone could participate. Small groups of people went off to breakout rooms to work on different subjects and came back together to share their ideas. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive.”
Ms Langdon said she is thrilled to be reworking some of the content for next year but warned that the leadership program is usually well oversubscribed.
“We have a number of new scholarships for next year that cover diverse interests. If people are interested, they can give me a call and we chat about options.”
Alpine Valleys Community Leadership has been running for over 20 years with an impressive number of over 416 leaders who have come through the program. Participants each year come from a wide geographic area covering the North East and Hume regions, taking in Albury and Wodonga and down to Murrindindi shire, out to Corryong, Tallangatta and all points in between.
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