Celebrate Rural Women! “Oonagh Kilpatrick”

My Leadership Great South Coast Photo Story 

The question I have asked myself often throughout my ten years of living in Australia and in this region is, how does one promote, honour and contribute to a region which offers so much opportunity, which provides such enormous economic benefits across the food and fibre sectors, and which has the potential and capacity to become an even greater economic powerhouse across so many sectors for not only the region, also for the state and the country as a whole? 

A good friend and a Leadership Great South Coast (LGSC) alumni had been suggesting that I apply for this LGSC program; I was reluctant. Her reasoning was that if I was successful, I would be better equipped and would better understand how to promote, honour, and contribute to the region which I have grown to love. 

Having just completed the mid-year retreat I am delighted to say “thank you” to my persistent friend for her vision, “thank you” to Food and Fibre Great South Coast as my scholarship sponsor and “thank you” to the LGSC team for offering, enabling, and facilitating such an innovative leadership program which is challenging, enlightening, engaging and educational. 

Over the past six months I have met with, enjoyed the company of 15 fellow participants who come from a diverse range of backgrounds, we have engaged in many debates and discussions. The excitement of interacting with this group of contemporaries started on the very first day of opening retreat. The photo above is of us all in the amazing facilities at The Hive in Warrnambool. 

The program days and lunchtime chats have taken us on a journey of discovery of the region, have provided an in-depth insight into the diverse number of organisations and industries within the region, and of ourselves. We have been educated by industry and economic visionaries enabling greater understanding of the role of cross sectoral collaboration and leadership in addressing the economic challenges within the region, and of our impact and our contribution footprints. 

We have benefitted from shared community experiences by stepping into the worlds of our community leaders and of the brave trail blazers we live amongst. 

An illustration as to the reach of the LGSC program was demonstrated on Strategy and Ethical Leadership Day. In this photo, Dr Jonathan Spear, Deputy Chief Executive Infrastructure Victoria, who we engaged with via Zoom 

Three keynote speakers addressed, highlighted, and delivered on the need for and impact of validated planned strategy and ethical leadership to positively contribute to the overall health and welfare of the communities we work and live within, the region, the state, and the country. 

Dr Jonathon Spear highlighted the achievements of the organisation, and the rationale of the powerful forward-looking recently released draft report’s dynamic vision and focus over the next 30 years. 

A memorable day in Portland when the importance of this deep-water port (pictured left) and the industries it supports was illustrated repeatedly by the engaging and informative industry leaders from the area. 

The recently completed mid-year retreat provided us with the opportunity in a safe environment to evaluate our personal learning goals and understand together the impact of personality traits, i.e., what draws us and others to each other and what pushes us and others from each other. This gave me the opportunity to appraise my “push and pull” drivers, I believe it will be of great benefit when confronted with the “push” factor in business relationships. 

Having had our chosen community project approved, we the team of four (Brendan Hyland, Ashleigh Glennon and Ben Marsden and I, pictured below) look forward to delivering a project which aim offers beach accessibility for all abilities and to work towards having all four patrolled beaches in the region listed on the Accessible Beach website. An example of what we hope to achieve is captured so eloquently by Abby in this video made at the City of Charles Sturt Accessible Beach Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3I4QxiHWTk 

This is an exciting project which resonates very deeply with me as it does with the whole team. I look forward engaging with stakeholders and service users soon.