Indigenous leaders new and old inspire 2017 LGSC participants
On the day Victorian Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development Jaala Pulford visited Lake Condah with Gunditjmara elder Denis Rose, the Great South Coast’s future leaders spent the day ‘on country’ with inspiring future Gunditjmara leader Tyson Lovett-Murray. Tyson, who’s knowledge and wisdom is way beyond his tender years, and his mother Denise Lovett, were the hosts of the Great South Coast Leadership 2017 participants visit to Gunditjmara country.
The visit took in Budj Bim National Park, Lake Condah and the associated weir, Lake Condah Mission, and for some, a visit to Tyrendarra Indigenous Protected Area. Throughout the day the participants were continually amazed by Tyson’s encyclopedia-like knowledge of his people’s history – their stories, experiences, achievements, losses and suffering. His knowledge of their built history was meticulous, including the operational understanding of the ancient eel traps and location of stone houses.
Similarly, Denise was a wealth of knowledge. Her knowledge however came largely from firsthand experience – experience of prejudice, racism, ignorance and social divide. Of watching her people battle poverty, unemployment, crime and alcoholism. Denise spoke from the heart throughout the day and one of her key messages was that for our nation to move forward and “close the gap” we must first fully and truthfully acknowledge our past.
One of the key messages from Denise and Tyson that shone through on the day was the strong and proud military history of the “fighting Gunditjmara”. Despite the atrocities and persecution suffered by the Gunditjmara people since European settlement, they have served Australia in all major military campaigns from the Boer War to Afghanistan. As the nation prepares to remember the 100th anniversary of the Australian Light Horse charge on Beersheba on October 31, Denise, Tyson and their family will have their own ceremony to remember the event and the role their descendent, Private Frederick Amos Lovett, played in it.
The day closed with an emotional thank you to Denise and Tyson delivered by program participant Leon Carey. “I saw the emotion in your eyes Denise when telling your journey. I saw frustration, pain, trauma in the sharing of your stories. But I also saw passion, joy, drive and compassion” Leon said. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Leon finished and this was a fitting close to a day that inspired, enlightened, challenged, surprised, upset, frustrated, and forever changed all LGSC participants.
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Leadership Great South Coast 2017 participants had an amazing opportunity to visit the home of Victoria’s democratic institutions.
The group made their way back up Spring Street and entered Parliament House, once inside the opulent and historic building Leadership Great South Coast Participants were met by Simon and Andres, who gave them a whirlwind Tour of the building, pointing out numerous interesting features along the way. It was excellent timing on Simon’s behalf which saw the group ushered into the Legislative Assembly in time to see the ceremonial aspects of the opening of the day’s business.
It was a lively, volatile and somewhat rancorous Question Time which followed later in the day, as the Opposition sought the greatest political advantage out of a breaking media story earlier which saw certain members of the Government accused of improper conduct. Numerous members of the group questioned the value of such aggressive theatrics, and pondered if it was good for the future of democracy as a whole, and set a good example for future generations.
Questions such as this were somewhat tempered by the speakers we had the honour engage with throughout the day, and included valuable sessions with Richard Willis, Usher of the Black Rod, Bruce Atkinson, the President of the Legislative Council, and Colin Brooks, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. A discussion with Tanya Waterson, Chief of Staff to MP James Purcell was also very valuable and gave the Participants an insight into the behind the scenes workings of a small political party which held the balance of power.
The Participants were very fortunate to also take place in a networking lunch, and had the honour to meet and lobby various Members of Parliament from a variety of parties, including Roma Brittnell, Geoff Howard, James Purcell, Richard Reardon, Steph Ryan, and Josh Morris. This opportunity to discuss real issues with these politicians and gain some exposure to that sometimes mystifying world will be of great value to the group as they go on to develop their careers and connections.
Culture, Influence and Smiles for Great South Coast Leaders
Leadership Great South Coast (LGSC) participants were treated to an opportunity to broaden their knowledge of the unique Melbourne culture and be inspired by some interesting ‘makers of Melbourne’ as they were treated to a guided walk through the CBD. From China City through the Greek quarter into a ‘coffee shop speakeasy’ the participants learned about some of the city’s secret spaces, sparking their curiosity to learn more about the capital.
Making their way to the Australian Institute of Company Directors Business lounge, the aspiring community leaders were challenged to consider their ability to influence their local community through governance roles and the importance of strong leadership in these positions.
To round off the inspiring day, LGSC participants had the opportunity to hear from 2013 Telstra Business Woman of the Year, Sadhana Smiles, who presented the challenges and opportunities for Women in leadership. Sadhana’s powerful presentation challenged every single one of the participants to aim high, smash their goals and achieve whatever they wanted.
Thank you to our guest speakers and to our host the Australian Institute of Company Directors.