• Loddon Herald

Passion and skills


Four local people were part of last year’s LEAD Loddon Murray Leadership program - joining 72 other Loddon residents who have participated in the initiative since it started. Here they reflect on their experiences as the 2021 course headed towards completion

Suzi Birthisel


I HAVE found the LMCLP Community Leadership Program transformational. The welcoming and supportive environment fostered from day one has set the scene for the participants to bond, share and grow.

What’s evident is the incredible passion everyone has for their community, and the strong desire to collaborate and work together for positive change.

Being surrounded by this type of energy is inspirational and makes one strive to be better.

The skills we are learning throughout the year are setting us up to be the most effective leaders we can be for our community.

Building relationships, deep listening and taking time to imagine what could be, before leaping into action, are some of the key takeaways so far.

The Loddon Shire is a wonderful place to live, work and play. I aspire for our young people to have abundant opportunities within the shire to become the best they can be. For Loddon to be a place where lifelong connections are formed and a love of volunteering is fostered.

When our young people leave home to further their education or employment prospects, we want Loddon to be the place they return to, the place they call ‘home’.

If we can work together to achieve that, we’ll know our community is in good hands for the future.

Jessica Liston


“IF something breaks your heart, it matters to you. Being able to work toward changing the things that cause you pain is one of the best missions you could embark on in life.” - Glennon Doyle.

I joined Lead Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program to increase my capacity to prevent youth suicide and increase youth mental health in our region.

Reading the harrowing statistics of youth suicide last year and personally loosing a close young friend invoked a desire to do what I could to assist youth of our region through the pandemic.

With support from the LLMCLP and the local community I developed and delivered the Thoroughbred Heroes pilot program.

This program has seen 33 youth attend a six-week program out in nature with retired race horses, allowing participants the opportunity to be vulnerable with each other and learn strategies to cope when faced with challenging situations.

An independent psychologist reviewed the program through pre and post surveys and the results have blown us away - the participants improved significantly in all four areas measured; hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism. Currently in the LLMCLP I am learning strategies to seek sponsorship to support 500 at risk youth to attend the Thoroughbred Heroes program over the next five years.

If the skills that I learn and implement from participating in the LLMCLP can help prevent one suicide in the Loddon community then I feel that the benefits for the Loddon Community from my participation are immeasurable.

George Filev


LEADERSHIP is something that others have seen in me. I have been one of those that didn’t take the step back when everyone else did, when asked to step up.

The Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program has helped me find my leadership style and given me the tools to feel confident in the position of leader in my community.

Taking the time out to look within myself, and understand others, has been an important part of this journey.

I have learned the importance of deep listening, and in order to lead effectively you need to start with respect and build connections, then reflect on conversations before directing action.

We all have different experiences in life and strength can be found in diversity, not division. The value of participating in programs like this is becoming a better communicator. The Loddon Shire is facing many challenges ahead with the changing climate, pandemics, rural decline and food/energy security through changing farming practices.

To get through the tough times we will need competent leaders who gain the respect of the community and understand the issues.

We need community cohesion, and to ensure that voices are heard so diverse needs are met. This means we all need to step up and be leaders at some point in our lives for the greater good of our community as a whole.

Tarnagulla township recently developed a Resilience Action Plan. I would like to see the initiatives from this plan implemented. This will require the community to work together and lead innovation.

I love living in my town and would like to see it thrive into the future. That’s the legacy I want to work towards.

Tarryn Smith


HEARING about the skills, knowledge, relationships, and wisdom previous participants from the Loddon Shire have gained from the LEAD Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program was the push I needed to apply for program in 2021.

The program so far has greatly exceeded my expectations. From the very first day the 2021 cohort met to our latest online forum and everything in between I have always felt supported, welcomed, inspired to step up and put my ideas and understandings forward without judgment.

Being surrounded by likeminded and enthusiastic individuals with a strong passion for community, change and the future has been truly inspiring.

LEAD Loddon Murray has given me the skills I need to be a better leader for my community by boosting my confidence and enthusiasm I needed to speak up about things that are important to me and step back to give others a go – “By taking a step back, we allow others to step up and learn.”

My learnings through the LEAD Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program haven’t only benefited me in my leadership and volunteer roles but also in my professional and personal lives.

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All