Anna Butcher, of Brookton, was chosen as one of only 12 Australian women (and 22 men) to participate in Course 13 of the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP). The program aims to develop effective leadership and assist in building a sustainable future for rural, remote and regional Australian communities. With her husband Colin, Anna runs a mixed farm at Brookton producing grain, export hay and prime lambs.
There were only eight WA participants in Course 13 of the leadership program – Anna and Broome’s Leah Dolby were the only WA rural women involved.
According to Anna, the course
(which she has now completed) provided a diverse range of opportunities to develop skills
and experience in a safe learning environment.
“The Australian Rural Leadership Program runs for 18 months and requires a part-time commitment of 60 days. Course 13 commenced with a fortnight in the Kimberley region in May last year and concluded with graduation in Canberra in November this year.”
There were seven sessions held throughout Australia and an overseas study tour of South Africa.
“The experiences ranged from the beauty and rugged landscape of the Kimberley with the development self-awareness and team building…to media training and a public speaking
“…people need to speak out for what is ethical and right and not just
remain silent.”
“In Melbourne the content was about community-based initiatives, corporate governance, economics and industry visits and insights.
In Sydney we covered ethics, globalisation and first-hand views of social justice issues in Kings Cross.”
“The Queensland focus was the study of organisational change and mental health issues, including medical facilities and health issues in rural Australia. This included a visit to the Cherbourg Aboriginal community and a first-hand look at the challenges the community faced and the progress they had made.”
“The course…continually
removes participants from their comfort zones.”
“I am far more confident and willing to stick my neck out…people need to speak out for what is ethical and right and not just remain silent.”
Broome’s Leah Dolby, was the first indigenous woman from the Kimberley to apply for the course.
Leah, who currently works for the Department of Child Protection, described the program as ‘interesting, an eye-opener, challenging and exciting’.
She agreed that the course removed participants from their comfort zones.
“Sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zones.”
The rural and remote health session in Brisbane had a profound effect on her.
“We were looking at how indigenous issues are dealt with, particularly health.”
Attracting and retaining medical staff in remote centres remains a concern.
“It is hard to get enough doctors and nurses out to remote areas.”
“Aboriginal people also have a (high incidence) of diabetes and a lot of children have ear problems.”
After completing the course, participants gain access to an extensive graduate network.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to develop leadership skills and networks to help me make a difference to the industry I work in and the community in which I live,” Anna added.
Anna was sponsored by the Grains Research and Development Corporation and Leah was sponsored by the Department of Local Government and Regional Development and the Kimberley Development Commission.
If you wish to apply or to find out further information about the ARLP visit www.rural-leaders.com.au

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