As I sit here having just completed the Tasmanian Leaders Program, I couldn’t be more grateful to the ATDC for supporting me through the program. Tas Leaders has been a journey beyond expectations for a great many reasons. It is not just a typical leadership program; it has exposed me to things that I would never otherwise have had the opportunity. From seeing innovation firsthand on the North West Coast and understanding that great successes can be achieved anywhere, to speaking directly with a range of politicians and leading economists about the future of our state. Being challenged to speak publicly about ourselves and recognise our privileges and positions of power – even when we may have thought we had none. We were exposed to life in jail through a visit to Risdon Prison and the cycle that often follows through a visit to Bethlehem House. We were required to facilitate full day sessions in small groups on a variety of topics that most of us knew nothing about: Agriculture, Renewable Energy, Inclusion & Connectivity and Tasmania’s First Nations People. We were constantly forced out of our comfort zone through our ideas being challenged, being driven to participate in conversations that we weren’t familiar with or simply weren’t comfortable with. We were made to open our eyes at all the times when we might have wanted to shut them because it got a little uncomfortable.
But more than all of that, Tas Leaders was connection. Through all the challenges we were supported by the constant smiling and sometimes crying faces around us. The three residentials gave us insights as to how we each tick and tick with those around us. They explained why we sometimes react to a situation one way while those around us react in another. We worked through conflict resolution and leadership challenges, we provided advice and had advice provided to us. And each activity built trust amongst the group and deepened the connection.
The experience has provided tools to ensure a broadened perspective, to seek out another person’s point of view and understand their experiences and what they have to offer. And also to sit with vulnerability and discomfort within ourselves to find the amazing underneath it. But it’s subtle. The year long program chips away at the walls we often build around ourselves, first with the group, and then at our deepest desires to be great at what we do, and make a difference to those around us. In the end we welcomed the discomfort like an old friend because we were supported, and we knew there would be so much value on the other side.
Our group project is an ongoing concern focusing on supporting men’s mental health on the North West Coast. Aptly named ‘Give me a break mate’, we are in the process of working with Mindfulness Programs Australasia to increase accessibility to mindfulness programs in male dominated workplaces on the North West Coast. Our hope is to increase the awareness of the benefits of mindfulness and build partnerships that increase the accessibility of the programs in the communities that need it the most. We have deliberately slowed the launch of the program as covid settles down but hope that we will be able to kick it off after Easter this year.
I would 100% recommend the Tas Leaders Program, if you are ready for it! It is a massive commitment being away from family and friends for one weekend a month for the year and completing the additional commitments along the way. But if where you are at right now allows you to make that commitment then I would definitely encourage you to open your mind, allow yourself to be vulnerable and apply to be a part of the program. I walk away with a multitude of experiences I have no doubt I would never have had otherwise, immense gratitude for the large numbers of people who volunteered their time to share their experiences with us and most of all, 24 new friends who are all talented, passionate and amazing at what they do. And I know that I could call on them at any time for any thing and they would be there with open arms to help. They proved that when I gave birth part way through and our daughter instantly gained 24 aunts and uncles who couldn’t have done enough for her or I to ensure my experience wasn’t interrupted – something I never expected but will never forget.
I will forever be grateful to the ATDC for allowing me the opportunity to participate in the Tas Leaders Program. I would not have had the opportunity to participate without their support.
2021 Tasmanian Leaders Program ATDC Scholarship Recipient