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From little things, big things grow.

Some of the Gippsland Community Leadership Program alumni share insights on what’s shaping Gippsland.

Jul 5, 2019

Words: Asheda Weekes

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We’re shaping up to keep up, and even better, we’re forcing other regions to feel that they have to keep up with us. As you know, there’s a lot of cool shit happening throughout Gippsland at the moment. —

Change needs to be instigated, and since its establishment in 1996, the Gippsland Community Leadership Program (GCLP) has been providing a platform for fostering the growth of existing and emerging leaders within our region. In fact, it’s one one of Australia’s longest running and most prestigious regional community leadership programs. The GCLP explores Gippsland’s past and present strengths so that the participants can devise projects to re-imagine our future. The forum also provides an avenue that promotes communication across multidisciplinary teams, learning to further enhance skill sets, as well as provide plenty of inspiration and the opportunity to build strong, ongoing networks. As you can guess, the 576 passionate GCLP alumni are ardent supporters of the area, and program director, Mark Answerth, is especially so as he explains how they’re set to make GCLP an even more robust initiative over the next twelve months. He intends to implement an Alumni Engagement Strategy that will, “Tap into the Alumni for networking and accessing to [both] re-implement and move projects forward for longevity, [as they’re an] untapped resource”. He outlines that the new engagement strategy will assist more alumni to become involved in future projects by “Giving them the vehicle and agenda to be able to do it”. Gippslandia chatted to several of the GCLP alumni to gain some insights on what’s already shaping the future of Gippsland. — If you want to know more about the GCLP or are keen to apply for their next intake, please jump online and check out more: Gippsland is seeing the tipping point of renewable projects assisting our clean, green image. The Latrobe Valley Community Power Hub (CPH) supports our Gippsland community to deliver community-based renewable energy projects characterised by local ownership, participation and benefit sharing. This includes projects such as Licola Wilderness Village moving from diesel generators to renewables, the Yinnar Solar Pathway, the Latrobe Bulk Buy investigations into the Ramahyuck Solar Farm and energy audits around the Neerim South Hospital. — Darren McCubbin, Councillor of the Wellington Shire Council. 2 Tourism and food. This includes places like Hogget Kitchen, SARDINE, The Cape Kitchen, Neilsons Kitchen, Lightfoot & Sons, Narkoojee and so many more. There are so many amazing wineries and gourmet food shops in our region now. Tourism, such as the new mountain bike track in East Gippsland, will be huge. I’ve [also] seen a big increase in entrepreneurs and solopreneurs too (hell, I’m one of them!). People like Sallie Jones from Gippsland Jersey, Elena at GippsTech, Erika at Mac&Ernie, Maree McPherson. Personally, I think it’s a hugely exciting time for our region with great opportunities for anyone willing to have a crack, be bold and take matters into their own hands. — Leah Mether, Methmac Communications. 3 As a Creative Content Producer and Marketing Manager at GippsTech, I’m super excited about being involved in so many diverse programs that are changing lives for many Gippsland startups and people who are working towards self-employment. It is very humbling to see. These include Startup Gippsland, Work My Own Way, The Herd Coworking Space and the new street art murals outside the space. — Aldona Kmiec, Photographer, Creative Content Producer and Marketing Manager at GippsTech. 4 ResourceSmart Schools is a fantastic state-wide initiative that provides sustainability mentors to work with schools to minimise their waste, save energy and water, promote biodiversity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In Gippsland, there are over 75 schools signed up to RSS, with students and teachers working with a local mentor who provides practical support for schools to reduce their resource use and costs, integrate sustainability education into their curriculum and promote their learnings and efforts beyond their school. RSS is funded by Sustainability Victoria and facilitated in Gippsland by Resource Recovery Gippsland (one of seven waste and resource recovery groups across Victoria). — Kathleen Raymond, Manager at Gippsland Waste and Resource Recovery Group. 5 Ambulance Victoria (AV) is doing some really nice work with some of Gippsland’s First Nations communities. We’re committed to improving service delivery and health resilience for Indigenous communities. In July 2017, we ... [co-designed] a community-based first response team at Lake Tyers (Bung Yarnda) Aboriginal Trust. [There was] extensive engagement with the community to ensure a shared collaborative approach. The team responds to the same call as an ambulance and this has reduced response times by 75 per cent (to an average of 10 minutes, down from 40 minutes). [There’s also] the establishment of the AV Aboriginal Employment Plan 2016-19, expanding the cultural awareness and knowledge within the organisation to build relationships and support the national commitment of reconciliation. To foster recruitment, a new paramedic cadetship program was rolled out across metro and rural areas. Cadetship has had four members to date, two of whom have now progressed from volunteer roles to be graduates (including one from Bairnsdale). The program will continue to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students of paramedicine with an opportunity to participate in a paid work placement. — Ken Lay, Chairman of Ambulance Victoria. 6 Since Hazelwood Power Station shut down in March 2017, the State Government has helped out an awful lot with the transition, and the employment rate has actually lifted. Relocation and support into the Latrobe Valley have been really quite positive, and the [negative] impact was way less than anticipated. Another thing, [there’s been investment] in some first-class sporting facilities that are just as good as, if not better than, metro sporting facilities. Having AFL pre-season games around here is a testament to the facilities. — Mark Waller, Senior Manager Capital Projects, AGL Energy Loy Yang. 7 Everyone should be aware of the leadership program. To me, it’s a wonderful program that we need to pull more bucks together [for]. It’s been going for 20 years now. What you get out of it is a ‘helicopter view’ of Gippsland that I would have never had otherwise. I’m passionate about agribusiness; from my end, we are one of the luckiest regions in Australia with climatic and agricultural resources. We [are implementing] sustainable management of our resources. We’re here for the long-term on that front. — Paul Griffin, Relationship Executive Agribusiness & Commercial Enterprise at Commonwealth Bank. 8 Improving digitisation across Gippsland is critical to Gippsland’s social and economic growth. Gippsland was ranked fourth lowest of 56 regions in Australia on the Digital Inclusion Index (DII) in 2017, yet digital literacy and digital skills are key to job creation and economic growth in the 21st century. Starting from a low base means there’s a huge opportunity for improvement, and Gippsland was also the fourth most improved region in Australia from 2017 to 2018 on the DII. The digitisation project for agribusiness producers, led by Food & Fibre Gippsland and funded by LVA, has great potential for helping Gippsland businesses reach a wider audience. I hope the project gets expanded in future and continues to improve global access for Gippsland producers. — Elena Kelavera, Founder and CEO of GippsTech. 9 Gippsland-based water corporations (including South Gippsland Water) have committed to establishing a Chapter under the Thriving Communities Partnership. This partnership is a cross-sector collaboration with the goal that everybody has fair access to the modern essential services they need to thrive in modern Australia. The partnership promises significant benefits to Gippslandians. — Annette Katiforis, General Manager People, Culture and Customer at South Gippsland Water. — Did you enjoy this article? 
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