Five Goulburn-Murray Water staff are on their way to becoming future leaders helping to build drought resilience and preparedness in the region.
The participants, from Tatura, Shepparton, Rushworth and Bendigo, are five of 26 Goulburn Valley residents selected in the first pilot of the $11 million Future Drought Fund Drought Resilience Leaders program.
They include GMW Drainage Programs coordinators Carolyn Nigro and Mark Potter, Diversions customer service officer Dylan Ferguson, Senior Drainage Project officer Rachel Bradshaw, and Corporate Planning and Performance manager Rosalind Martin currently on secondment to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
The Commonwealth Government is partnering with the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) to deliver the program, which supports community members undertake leadership development and community activities that build drought resilience in their local area.
Ms Nigro said the initial sessions of the program last week focused on adaptive management and leadership, with open conversations about mental health and “how this is the foundation of supporting the region”.
“A presentation from Outback Futures and discussion of the ‘Weathering Well’ app provided insight into the importance of supporting rural communities in mental health awareness and improvement,” she said.
“The group of like-minded participants have created a safe environment to challenge assumptions.
“I hope to learn more skills in adaptive leadership, resilience thinking applied to landscape management and develop networks in the region to support change.”
Ms Bradshaw said she wanted to learn more about rural community resilience and adaptability principles, then apply that knowledge in regional adaptability projects she was working on with GMW and Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority.
“I hope to gain an understanding of issues the community faces in our region, and structures and systems that underpin our experience of events and crises like drought,” she said.
“I also want to develop an understanding of how to support and build resilient communities and share that in my work to help us be resilient and adaptable when issues intersect with our communities.”
The program involves 480 people throughout 12 regions across Australia who will join the ARLF alumni, a national network of leaders.
The participants selected for the Goulburn Valley region are the first of two pilot regions to take part in the program.