Meeting the GG and PM were highlights of our annual program’s Canberra trip


It was an absolute pleasure to accompany our Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Program participants on their recent four-day study tour in Canberra. Under the facilitation of the program’s Coordinator, Karlie Langdon, our group set a cracking pace: leaving Wangaratta on Sunday morning and arriving in Canberra later in the day and at the same time as politicians from all over Australia. Our first stop was a visit to the Australian Institute of Sport for a private tour of the facilities and to meet nine-time Paralympic gold medallist Richard Nicholson – an inspiring athlete who generously shared many of his leadership learnings.

For two days, our group were guests of Member for Indi Cathy McGowan AO MP at Parliament House are were treated to a whirlwind of meetings with politicians, members of the press and ministerial advisors. Parliamentarians, including our region’s neighbouring MPs, Farrer representative Hon Sussan Ley and the Murray electorate’s Hon Damian Drum MP addressed the group, as did one of the program’s first Alumni, Shane Wright, who is now Economics Editor for The West Australian newspaper.


Observing question time in the House of Representatives and sitting in on a Senate session provided an understanding of the processes of government, and it was a privilege to have a private meeting with the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP.

We weren’t the only locals visiting our nation’s capital that week – a deputation of King Valley winemakers was in Canberra seeking support from Federal Government Ministers to maintain the Prosecco brand for their sparkling wine. Cathy McGowan hosted a networking event on the Monday evening at which participants were able to lend their voices to the value and importance of the Prosecco Road while they mingled with a range of politicians and industry leaders.

There were visits to the Murray Darling Basin Authority and Old Parliament House, and an educational, and at times very moving, visit to the Australian War Memorial where a wreath was laid on behalf of our leadership program during the Last Post ceremony.

For most, an absolute highlight of the trip was sharing morning tea at a private audience with the Governor-General of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC at Government House.

The Canberra visit has brought another dimension to our annual program and I extend sincere thanks to Cathy McGowan and her staff for working with


our AVCL team to develop and deliver such a memorable leadership experience. This is our second year visiting Canberra and already it has become the highlight of the annual program with those insights participants gain around political processes and leadership, likely to serve them well for years to come.