CANBERRA 2018 – PARTICIPANT REFLECTIONS
Reflection: Australian War Memorial
In the Anzac legacy, shines guidance for good leadership from the grassroots up. There are the quintessential qualities that withstand the test of time for anyone seeking to make a difference.
You will find these represented in 15 figures within the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Memory above the tomb of the unknown soldier.
COOLNESS and CONTROL in facing adversity with the AUDACTITY and ENDURANCE to stay direct in DECISION.
RESOURCE and CURIOSITY in finding solutions while maintaining CANDOUR and INDEPENDENCE when tested and DEVOTION to those your serve.
LOYALTY to the cause but honouring ANCESTRY and PATRIOTISM to those who have come before but keeping CHIVALRY alive in doing so, with great COMRADESHIP.
Reflection: War Memorial
102,000 Australian Service Men and Service Women have been killed as a result of War. If we need further context, that is roughly the population of Ballarat.
I was privileged to lay a wreath at the Pool of Reflection during the Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial. I started my day as a visitor, I became a pilgrim, and left with sorrow and pride. But as I walked amongst the ghosts of the Menin Gates, Fromelles, Tobruk, and those fallen at countless other battles, I understood that it is our duty to guard the legacy of sacrifice and service of our women and men, and the legacy of freedom and of our values. We must ensure that the foundations of our freedom are extended to those who still today endure and suffer from the machines of war. Those who have served must know that their contribution is recognised, and that it is supremely valued.
Reflection: Last Post / War Memorial
As we braced against the chill waiting for the last post ceremony to begin, former Australian politician and current Director of the Australian War Memorial, Brendan Nelson spoke briefly of the Memorial being about love and friendship. His words resonated. Earlier, solemnly perusing the museum I read of the disfigured solider, the grieving mother, the war widow. I was struck not only by the senseless loss, but the stories of love and mateship from ordinary Australians thrown into extraordinary circumstances. I thought about those fleeing conflict who reach our shores today. Arriving traumatised and grieving for county and loved ones left behind. And I wondered if we looked beyond the statistics to see the human stories, if we might replace hatred and fear with compassion, tolerance and perhaps even friendship.
Reflection: Sir Peter Cosgrove
It was an honour meeting Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Lynne Cosgrove at Government House. Sir Cosgrove offered us advice based on his leadership journey. So much of what Sir Cosgrove told us stood out for me, such as leadership being a process of ongoing learning and the importance of adopting a flexible approach according to one’s environment and the situation at hand. He also stressed that collaboration and strong interpersonal skills are key to inspiring a team. Meeting Sir Cosgrove and Lady Cosgrove was such a special and unforgettable experience.
Reflection: Lady Cosgrove
Visiting Government House was highlight of the trip to Canberra. The Governor General and Lady Cosgrove were warm and inviting. Meeting Lady Cosgrove was an honour, she took interest in our leadership roles in the Ballarat community. Their excellencies were a fantastic team, creating a warm welcome to their home and allowing us to explore the bottom floor of the exquisite Government House. They welcome groups like ours often as well as several school groups daily when in residence. When talking to their staff, the two rarely attend official events alone. Their team approach to leadership was inspiring. As a couple they advocate for our country and bring the Australian community closer together.
Reflection: Paul Bongiorno
Behind the secure doors separating public from politicians, the current sitting of federal parliament is a maelstrom of journalistic fodder for veteran political commentator Paul Bongiorno. For the visiting Leadership Ballarat & Western Region group, Bongiorno provides an unvarnished insight into the current state of federal politics. The inflammatory issue of live export has seen record influx of negativity, opinion polls are worse than the Gillard government and proposed tax rebates will cost Australia $144 billion. Although certainly not for the first time, the Australian public are discontented. For the LBWR group, what lessons are to be learnt about effective leadership? Inevitably, both good and bad will present in Canberra in the coming months.
Reflection: Catherine King
The LBWR Group was once again given the opportunity to visit our Federal Parliament in Canberra – hosted by our local Member Catherine King along with her fantastic support staff (Andrew & Janet), it was great to be exposed to the inner workings of our parliamentary system, but most importantly to appreciate the hard work put in by Catherine & her team in keeping our local region on the political radar, her passion for role was a standout along with a noticeably high level of respect shown for her from other politician’s, Catherine was selfless both with her time & resources on the day of our visit and shows her passion & commitment in supporting local programs like LBWR.
Reflection: Cathy McGowan
Cathy was inspirational speaker on the role of leadership within our community. She reminded us that completing a leadership course such as this one doesn’t end with graduation – the graduation is just the commencement of our leadership journey. Cathy advised that leadership needs continual practice and commitment to practice. She advised us to practice leadership, rather than just being leaders and to hold each other accountable and make a commitment to continue practicing. As leaders our calls to action are:
We imagine a better world but it doesn’t happen through imagining, it needs action! Be the change you want to see. If not you, then who?
Reflection: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
What qualities make a leader in our community? I recently had the privilege to spend time with our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, as part of Leadership Ballarat and Western Region. When asked what led to his current position he reflected that he had always had an interest in politics from his university days and was keen to be involved in government one day. The main qualities he felt he possessed were drive for self-improvement, learning from failure and the desire to make connections and a difference in the community. In our lifetime, we will have many jobs that shape who we are and how we lead it is journey the makes us who we are.
Reflection: Hon Josh Frydenberg
Our future and the health of the planet are firmly intertwined. Global Warming is a key dividing issue, making the Hon. Josh Frydenberg’s leading position as Minister for Energy & Environment crucial in balancing the bipartisanship of multiple interested parties.
The Minister spoke of handling a coin with two interconnecting sides, energy and emissions. His challenge is to oversee our transition away from fossil fuels towards sustainable & renewable energy whilst maintaining the ever-growing demand for reliable power that is affordable.
Moving forward investments are fuelling research into community-based storage, micro grids and required infrastructure. Locally BREAZE in conjunction with the Ballarat Community Power HUB are leading this movement into our future.
Reflection: Anthony Albanese MP
I found Anthony Albanese to be an authentic leader. He pulled up a chair to sit at the table with the LBWR group – not just to stand and lecture. This made him likeable and approachable from the beginning. He chatted about his electorate and the ways in which he tries to connect with his voters – meetings are held in different locations, he shops across the electorate and attends local sports and events. He also talked about his involved with infrastructure and how he likes portfolios such as these as they are more tangible (ride the train, drive the road). For me he demonstrated a willingness to connect with people – an attribute I admire.
Reflection: Stephen Jones
Before meeting Stephen, and with the understanding that I was required to write a few words about the meeting, I performed the obligatory Google search. What I found appeared to be yet another politician that I failed to feel any connection to. Instead, Mr Jones was genuine, engaging and acting on the real issues of regional Australians. He understands the aspirations of most parents, that we want our children to have the same opportunities in rural areas as metro, so they can continue to live in, and support rural areas. The Canberra experience highlighted that most politicians are looking to engage with their community and make genuine community connections.
Reflection: Question Time
Traditionally Question Time in the ‘People’s House’ is for the opposition to ask the government questions to critically examine their policies of the day. In theory, it also allows opportunity for Ministers to be called to account, demonstrate leadership and political skill. Our democracy in action.
Today’s Question Time is now an artform of political strategy and tactics with looming by elections in 5 seats front of mind. The Speaker has a formidable task of minimising personal slurs, with even LWBR’s own visit with the PM an opportunity for political point scoring. Leadership was indeed demonstrated, but at what cost?
Reflection: Tanya Plibersek
LBWR were fortunate to witness a moment of political unity when the Hon Dan Tehan, Liberal Minister for Social Services invited Hon Tanya Plibersek to join him in answering questions posed by the LBWR group. Dan and Tanya worked closely and respectfully together to answer questions on leadership, social issues and Western Victoria, and posed for a joint photo with the group. Tanya spoke of the importance of networking as a key way to achieve leadership and community objectives. What I took most from Tanya’s discussion and interaction with Dan and the LBWR group was how closely both Major Parties work together behind closed doors to build constructive relationships with each other.
Reflection: Bill Shorten
Bill Shorten connected with the Labor Party values at an early age; he witnessed his mother working hard to provide his family with a good education and opportunities.
Member for Maribyrnong and Opposition Leader since 2013, Bill’s aspirations to contribute to community and Australian politics incorporates a respect for history and an understanding that although we may have different challenges, we share the same values.
The distinctive Labor Party adage of a “fair go for everybody” supports Bill’s conception of equality, “we have a great society but it can always be better”.
Reflection: Dan Tehan
Dan started off with the comment of “Leadership goes well beyond the four walls of Ballarat”. By this I believe he meant that what happens in the larger regional towns must have an impact on the smaller, closer by regional towns.
As the MP for Wannon he is a close neighbour to Ballarat and as such we need to ensure that the works for Ballarat such as the NDIS services, the rail line and sporting facilities these have a flow on effect to these areas.
Ballarat is looked upon as the “Big Sister”; we need to ensure that care and consideration for the impact of services coming into Ballarat also flows out into our smaller sister areas.
Reflection: Adam Bandt
From a leadership perspective, Adam’s experiences of being part of a unity government were unique. The challenges which arises out of pragmatism (fomenting a progressive agenda while balancing the reluctant and often too risk adverse other party) requires nuance and deft handling – particularly where the combined working majority was never greater than one vote. On top of this, trying not to disillusion his own electoral base by supporting a major party added to the tight-rope act in which Adam had to canvass his leadership credentials upon. The fruition of his leadership saw key agendas passed through parliament into law, such as the free dental program for under 18-year-olds. Upon reflection, I learnt from Adam that it takes leadership and courage to fight for an idea and both persistence & passion to bring the idea into reality.
Reflection: Parliament House
The leadership group was fortunate to be invited behind the scenes of the Parliament House. We saw the 2,700 clocks throughout the House sporadically flash red or green, signalling a four-minute countdown for members to rush to the Senate chambers or House of Reps to cast their votes. We witnessed Ministers and Senators running along the corridors to make it to chambers before they were locked out of their opportunity to vote. From this, we learnt that democracy waits for no one, not even the leaders of our country, so if you want something done there’s no time for hesitation and you need to be present to make your voice heard.
Reflection: Roderick Campbell – The Australia Institute
Lobbyist, it’s such a dirty word. Not according to Roderick Campbell, Research Director of The Australia Institute, a Canberra based public policy think tank. Lobbying is far more than influencing the people of importance. Rod explained that Lobbying really is being able to bring solutions to the right people, the people who can influence at the highest levels.
Lobbying has, for me, always been described in such a negative light. Rod influenced significant change in how being influential really can make a difference to the world around us. From large scale changes in government policy to being able to convince your child to clean up after themselves, it’s all about being brave, speaking to the people who can influence change and most of all, being a part of something bigger than you and I.
Reflection: Bob Douglas, Australia 21
Every now and again you hear from someone who you sit in front of with your mouth agape – in awe. This was Bob Douglas. Someone with the drive, commitment and intelligence to develop a public policy Think Tank, from scratch, that provides our nation’s leaders with credible, well thought out input to their policy decisions. How many organisations can we point to that have the courage to attempt to find solutions to some of those wicked problems frustrating much of man-kind? Australia 21 is encouraging our leaders, through a framework of increasing public awareness, research and reporting, to address issues such inequality, refugee policy, climate change policy, illicit drug policy, even threats to the existence of humanity, such as WMD policy. The good folk who commit their time and precious energy into Not For Profits like this organisation deserve the attention of those whom they serve, Politicians in particular.
Look them up at www.australia21.org.au and follow their work
Reflection: Martin Fisk, Menslink
On our final day we were privileged to listen to the enthusiastic and vibrant Martin Fisk CEO of Menslink . He talked about why is it that so many of our young men take their lives. “Did our mental health issues commence when advertising in the 70’s switched from advertising products to advertising lifestyles”. The common signs are hopelessness and despair followed by anxiety being the number one issues followed closely by anger. Is social media and the creation of online friends to blame? Is the breakdown of the family model and not having a strong male role model to blame?
Menslink works exclusively with young men by providing them with free mentors. These are not trained professionals just nonviolent, listening caring strong male models that the young men can talk to and feel they are being listened to in a non-judgemental way. Menslink do not tell young guys how to go about it but want them to create their own solutions.
Reflection: Key Leadership Learnings
Leadership comes in many forms but from behind every great success story, whether it be in business or your personal life, is an even greater leader. All leaders are made where every skill you will need to use to be an effective manager can be acquired with practice. This should be reassuring for all of us.
My experience in Canberra, as part of LBWR program, highlighted many key leadership learnings. From being resilient, positive, a good listener, trusting those around you and, above all else, being passionate about what you do, including giving back to the local community, are the main attributes that I see in becoming a great leader. For Ballarat, this is what we all need to maximise all the fantastic opportunities will lie ahead.
Reflection: Key self-learnings
Over 20 years ago I visited Canberra on a Grade 6 excursion and it had a similar agenda to the 2018 Leadership Ballarat and Western Region Canberra Retreat. We visited the same Canberra attractions including the Australian War Memorial, National Portrait Gallery and the Australian Parliament House, but the experience could not have been further apart. To be honest, Canberra and politics in general haven’t ever been much of an interest to me. I think it would be worthwhile every Australian visits Canberra and Parliament, it might just open your eyes to how the discussions made in Canberra affect everyone
Reflection: Learnings for Ballarat
Many local Ballaratarian’s choose to live in a regional city, for all the benefits that a regional city provides; the beautiful countryside, the friendly people and the opportunities to be involved.
To have an impact in Ballarat, as thriving regional city we must get involved. If it is not us that act, then who will? If we don’t act now, then when?
It is important as leaders that we know the communities in which we work or serve. It enables greater traction when things need to be done. We understand from the grass roots the needs of the individuals that represent our great town.
Take advantage of any opportunity that presents, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and present with solutions to the problems.
Leadership is about connections and the success of the leadership is dependent on the continued connections, so get involved in a local group, collaborate with other likeminded people, join a community Board, partake in local government or politics.
Don’t lose sense of humanity and human interaction. Leadership is about people.
Reflection: Links to other program days
Our time in Canberra provided an opportunity to apply all the things we have learnt in the LBWR program to date. Being face to face with many of our country’s political leaders, thinkers and advocates meant having to step out of our comfort zone and engage at a level that many of us, as part of our daily lives, might never consider. All those we met demonstrated both the challenges and opportunities that leadership brings. They all stressed that local citizens can and should engage with their political leaders – highlighting the active and critical role we could all play in our country’s future.
Reflection: Group Experience
The group experience for the LBWR 2018 Canberra trip was a slightly different dynamic to other program days. The general feel was that we were a very inquisitive and passionate group and fed off each other's desire to benefit from this amazing experience. On a more personal level amongst participants, I witnessed a real bonding experience, as far as pushing ourselves to connect with other participants that we may not have yet connected with. Everyone was keen to discuss the day's events to gain each other's perspectives, and there was also the beginning of a group discussion regarding some of the topics/passions we as a group can put our focus into in the 2nd half of the year and beyond.
Reflection: Canberra as a whole
Canberra was founded on innovation and future thinking.
Located on the ancient land of the Ngunnalwa people, the site was favoured for its clean air, good water supply and invigorating climate.
On 12th March 1913 the capital was officially named Canberra thought to mean “meeting place”, derived from the Ngunnawal word for Kamberra
As a growing and vibrant city, with the Australian bushland integrated with the urban environment, Canberra is a city rich with Australian history, culture and diverse activities. Lake Burley Griffin is the masterful centrepiece and heart of the city.
A visit to Canberra for the participants of the Leadership Ballarat and Western Region 2018 Forum was a unique, inspirational and emotional experience. It’s easy to forget in a fast-paced life the sacrifices so many have made to ensure we live in such a great country. Canberra is a place to celebrate what we are proud of: our heroes, our champions and our leaders.
The presence of Ballarat’s emerging community leaders in Canberra cannot be underestimated. The experience has provided us an invaluable opportunity to reflect, not only on our personal leadership journeys, but to explore as a leadership group the connection and sense of belonging to our local community: to be involved, to be heard, to challenge and to be an integral part of creating the vision for the future of our region.
Reflection: Advocating and Influencing
Policy making is not always an entirely rational process. Often governments don’t have time to gather detailed information and develop sound understanding of issues. We therefore need to understand the people and processes that can lead to positive changes/outcomes. Many seek to influence government decisions. To do this, you need to know who the politicians and their staff are and what problems they are facing.
The art of lobbying is the art of solving other people’s problems. Go to politicians with a solution - how you can help them. Come up with the answers for what needs to happen. Solutions are desired, not further problems.
Successful advocacy requires in-depth knowledge, ability to compromise and strategic timing. Advocates must be informed – know what you are asking for. It is not enough to be right. Those seeking to influence need to acknowledge the dilemmas policy makers face – limited resources, time and money and be willing to meet them in the middle.
Formally written letters are still one of the best ways to lobby politicians – all must be processed and responded to. Try to build personal relationships – knock on doors, phone their office and make yourself known, so they can put a face to a name for the report or research they have received. Twitter is another powerful forum as ministers often have access to and control over their accounts.
Politicians themselves conceded the loudest voices aren’t always heard. Simply shouting louder can do no more than burn credibility and distance those that advocacy is intended to influence. On the contrary, others may argue the ‘echo chamber’ effect may have its place if there is a consistent message coming from a wide variety of sources.