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Collaborative regional leaders bring their key learnings to the nation’s capital

27 July 2023

The Leading Australian Resilient Communities (LARC) program, which focuses on building leadership skills through a local lens, is celebrating 12 months of success this week.

The program - a collaboration between the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF), the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) and leadership partners (Leadership Victoria, Leadership WA, Leaders Institute of SA and Tasmanian Leaders) - has equipped the 200 participants with the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to navigate and grow in the face of challenges and uncertainties in their communities.

LARC has brought together diverse communities across Australia to build resilience and strengthen their capacity to respond and recover from crises. By providing practical tools, expert guidance and a collaborative environment, the program has helped participants feel empowered to enhance their community’s resilience and foster sustainable growth.

The ten regions selected had endured natural disasters - flood, drought and cyclones - or are challenged by isolation, youth unemployment and crime, the rising cost of living, as well as workforce and housing shortages.

The regions included:

  • NSW/VIC border
  • Northern Rivers NSW
  • Wide Bay Burnett QLD
  • Charters Towers QLD,
  • Alice Springs and Southern NT
  • Northern and Yorke SA
  • Midwest Coastal WA
  • Goldfields and Esperance WA
  • Latrobe and Central East Gippsland VIC
  • North West and King Island TAS

Case studies showcase program impacts

Whilst community projects were an important part of the program, most participants experienced growth in their own confidence and leadership skills, empowering them to work collaboratively to address local community issues.

Andrew Hannaford, a rural banking professional from Wagga Wagga NSW, worked with his group to address the digital divide between country and city, ensuring it’s prioritised in future regional planning.

“The most tangible skill I gained was an appreciation of the importance of listening, and the true need to hear all voices in a room, big and small,” he says.

Engaging with broader sections of the community and truly listening was the focus of Ellie Tonkin’s group project.

“I am feeling more empowered to push for change through the platforms I have access to and to put myself forward to seed further growth,” the marketing manager from Bundaberg QLD shares.

Finding common ground in a community in crisis cannot be understated for Tania Kells, a Connect Officer living in Alice Springs NT. The LARC program helped existing leaders in the region forge a stronger connection through collaboration. Focusing on youth services and youth crime,

Tania will leverage her network to bring Indigenous and non- Indigenous people together.

“The best thing about LARC for us was that we all had different backgrounds and we just merged. Having strong networks in Alice Springs helps us all. We had consensus. We weren’t at odds,” Tania reflects.

ARLF CEO Matt Linnegar says the program was an overwhelming success.

“The LARC program has proven to be a transformative initiative that has empowered communities across the nation.

“Through collaboration and knowledge-sharing, participants have not only enhanced their personal resilience but built stronger, more united communities.”

RAI CEO Liz Ritchie adds the LARC program serves as a testament to the power of community engagement and collaboration.

“By equipping communities with the necessary tools, knowledge and support, the program has strengthened these local leaders’ ability to adapt, respond, and thrive in the face of diverse challenges.”

A cohort of 20 participants have been chosen to come to Canberra this week for an inaugural alumni event where they will have the opportunity to network, share their stories, and build connections with others across the country.

LARC is delivered as part of the Australian Government’s $5 million Building Resilient Regional Leaders Initiative (Pilot) commitment.

Media are invited to Alumni presentations from 11am-1:00pm on 1 August at Old Parliament House, Canberra, where participants will share their experiences and provide an overview of their projects.

*Individual headshots are available on request. Please contact Nicky McMillan at ARLF. More participant case studies can be found here:

For media enquiries contact:

Regional Australia Institute 
Alexandra Macaulay
Ph: 0409 652 465
E: [email protected]

Australian Rural Leadership Foundation
Nicky McMillan
Ph: 0439 438 500
E: [email protected]