THIS year’s cohort of LBWR, the annual leadership program conducted by Leadership Ballarat and Western Region, are four sessions into the year-long experiential learning program for emerging community leaders.
Michelle Whyte, Executive Officer at LBWR said the program does not intend to become just an education provider.
“We are sticking to our community roots by using the actual issues we have in our community as a way of teaching and practicing those leadership skills,” she said.
“The common purpose of LBWR is having the participants continually questioning how to make their community better.”
Using local organisations as the testing ground for the program enables the group to open and broaden their perceptions in particular from a community-based perspective.
The purpose of visiting Yuille Park P-8 Community College was to explore the regional issues and the community’s response to education, young people and pathways to engagement and employment Ms Whyte said often people have pictures in their minds about what Wendouree West is like and make judgements.
“Taking the group to the school actually shows them how much can be done by a community as people often think, ‘give them more money and that will fix it,’ and that’s not how it works,” she said.
Sadiki Mukasa, participant in the program, said visiting Yuille Park showed him how the school community was effectively working to meet the needs of students who may have experienced trauma.
“They worked out that an individual method of teaching the kids that had special needs was going to get the best out comes,” Mr Mukasa said.
“The community was looking after itself.
“The school community was empowering. Two mums who spoke to our group, one of whom was involved in driving her kids and other students to sports while the second mum cooked breakfast at the school so the kids could start the day on a full stomach.”
Ms Whyte said the LBWR program is designed to show how individuals can make things happen every day and that’s where the leadership is.
“There is a lot of value and strength in those communities and seeing it first-hand removes labels and the group start to see people as real,” she said.
Olivia Lorkin, another member of the program said she was honoured to hear from Yuille Park’s Assistant Principal Brett Shillito and Student Engagement Officer Simone Gilbert.
“You can see just how much dedication they have to their students and community, through a school that approaches learning with heart and understanding,” Ms Lorkin said.
“Without Leadership Ballarat I might not have ever had the opportunity to learn from them, to see how they shape their student’s education and create a space that includes its community, and to hear from parents who passionately spoke about their commitment from the school, to their students but also to themselves.”