Getting Ready for a Governace Role
The 2018 LGSC group began their three-day Melbourne trip with a visit to the Melbourne HQ of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Against a backdrop of sweeping city views from level 26, Director and AICD Fellow Bruce Anderson encouraged participants to seek opportunities to contribute to leadership within their community and urged participants be selective, and to contribute in areas they’re passionate about and where their skills can be best utilised.
Continuing our leadership journey the group had the opportunity to explore the upper and lower houses of Victorian Parliament before meeting with former Victorian Premier, Dr. Denis Napthine. The former Premier offered some practical tips on lobbying politicians, and an overview of the inner workings of State Government.
Tanya Waterson, Chief of Staff for James Purcell MLC provided a generous and candid insight into the day-to-day functions of state government. The group explored opportunities for community leadership when lobbying local members, as well as how various factors might affect the degree of influence that a member has when representing their region and in particular the current unique position that James Purcell holes within the upper house.
Keeping the Community Safe
A day at the courts, not your typical destination, but a day well spent. While most law abiding, citizens will never see the inside of the court. We got the privilege to visit the courts and see Magistrate Holzer’s court in session. This provided an insight into how the criminal justice system works. Magistrate Holzer also presented to our group and his knowledge and wisdom around the key areas affecting the court system was undeniable. We walked away more informed and knowledgeable about the challenges magistrates face.
A key theme touched on by all the presenters was the challenge of domestic violence against women and children. Gender inequality and/ or rigid gender norms perpetuate domestic violence through the mistreatment of women. The responsibility of preventing and/or stopping domestic violence is for everyone in the community. We were challenged to think of how we are raising our children and whether we are doing enough to encourage them to respect women and to treat women as equals. We were encouraged to be active bystanders who ask the people around us whether they are ok. On avearage it takes over 13 attempts before a woman leaves a violent relationship and you never know whether your concern/support might be the catalyst that saves a life
A widely known fact is the impact of drugs and alcohol abuse in our society. You only need to turn on the news to hear of another report of a death and/or crime spree committed by a drug abuser. Jodie encouraged us to move away from the bias we have against drug users as drug and alcohol addiction affects everyone. For alcohol addiction, the challenge is that it is widely available and socially acceptable hence it is almost impossible to attend any function without alcohol. This means that the harmful effects of alcohol consumption are generally ignored.
Finally, the role of keeping our community safe is everyone’s responsibility so we all need to step up and do our part.
Art is for Everyone
If you had to describe Warrnambool as though we were speaking to someone who’d never been – what would you say? Would you mention the quality roads, the waste services and adequate infrastructure? No, you’d tell them about its picturesque beauty, the natural wonders, the whales and the penguins, the cafes and the great family adventures to be had.
In posing this question Wishart gallery Curator and Artist, Gareth Colliton demonstrated a wonderful point about why people travel. Not for the roads or the health services, but for the art, the culture, the architecture. He reasoned that experiences with art and culture are what we as humans live for, and that governments on the whole have seemingly lost sight of this. In a perfect world, there would be artists in all tiers of Government, having input into decision-making across the board. Unlikely, given the tight fiscal environment facing local government in particular, however there is certainly merit in having public art as an underlining consideration in infrastructure projects and town planning.
Who knew that Warrnambool had such a wealth of hidden art gems! Take a tour through the laneways of the CBD and you’ll find not only large commissioned works adorning the walls, look and you’ll find all the guerrilla artworks and sculptures. It’s a constantly changing landscape and one which artist-run initiative, the F project, www.thefproject.org.au is very proud of www.warrnamboolstreetart.com
The F Project aim to encourage and support community artists and contemporary arts practice, while promoting social change and exploring creative engagement opportunities. Their contemporary gallery has a retail shop, a workshop space, and an artist-in-residence studio available to foster the production and exhibition of local art. More promotion of this studio space and residence is paramount to ensure its ongoing viability, and would also serve to celebrate the wonderful work from the local volunteer group.
Thanks to our presenters Vanessa Gerrans – Director Warrnambool Art Gallery www.thewag.com.au, Gareth Colliton – Curator, Wishart Gallery www.wishartgallery.com.au and Jill Rivers – Arts for Wellness Advocate.
Taking an Industry Perspective
Thought provoking presentations highlighted the influence of industry on communities’ triple bottom line (economic, social and environment outcomes) and the interplay of government; programs, departmental support and policy in strengthening the viability and sustainability of local industry. Unique examples of this at the local level (Entrepreneur program), at state level (The Victorian Gas Program) and federal level (The National Energy Guarantee).
As with all our program days, one can’t help feeling a sense hope and pride in our employed government representatives like; Brenda, John and Grant for the work they are achieving individually and departmentally to improve our communities triple bottom line. Not to mention the role of industry leaders like Dion (Alcoa) and Kara (Port of Portland) and the value they add.
I usually come away with a sense of frustration from our Program Days. The frustration emanates from how government political agendas at all levels are getting in the way of community informed evidence-based debate.
The Victorian Gas Programme as Grant described sounds like a great process using science and research to inform and influence community engagement and debate to create greater understanding and alignment of decision making for future decision making by government on gas exploration in Victoria.
The National Energy Guarantee on the other hand appears to be an example of what not to do to in seeking independent advice (Finkel review) and then ignoring it with no informed community debate.
The challenge is getting our energy mix right in terms of cost, security and sustainability – where is Alcoa in this future mix, and what effect will this debate have on the Great South Coast (GSC) regions triple bottom line?
As leaders of the GSC region we need to advocate for better evidence informed debate aligned with community engagement and local solution generation to inform government decision making.
We have seen the same issues occur within the health sector, the education sector, the dairy industry etc. We can do better and it starts with us as leaders asking for more evidence based data to inform local debate and consultation at the GSC level.
Mark Brennan, Program partcipant
Thanks to our speakers, Dion Gallagher, Portland Aluminium, Metals Manager, the Port of Portland CFO, Kara King, John Krbaleski from the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEJTR), Grant Clarke also from DEJTR, Victorian Gas Program and Brenda Callahan, Business Adviser for the federal government’s Entrepreneur Program.