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Champions of Education


In the sleepy hollows of Glenormiston, Sean Fitzpatrick and his dedicated staff are changing the way students are engaging in education.

The Gnurad-Gundidj Campus of School for Student Leadership is a life changing experience for year nine students from across Victoria and Sean and his team are building confident self learners with strong community connections.

Bringing education back to accountable learning, teaching life skills and open learning are some of the ways they are building future leaders. Decision making and problem solving skills are giving students the skills and guidance in making better choices going forward.

There are many layers that impact on education, including poverty, mental health and the ability to learn. We had insights into the cycles of poverty, the challenges faced and how hard it is to break the cycle. Poverty comes in many different forms, sometimes you may not be aware that someone was struggling and living in poverty. They are very resourceful and often there is a connection with mental health and poverty.

There are now options available for disengaged students to become engaged again, it’s about taking a student centered approach. Schools are Teachers are putting the students in the centre and building education around them, to suit the student, not what the Teacher or a traditional School system dictates. This is a great success.

We learnt that there are options out there for those disengaged from mainstream schooling. There are teachers who are reengaging students, building trust and teaching life skills that change lives. Damian from WAVES is just one example of a school that is doing a great job with students and making a difference in the their lives. We are lucky to have teachers like him in the great south coast.

Overall the day bought new understanding and a positive vibe that there is change in education and options for more personal pathways of learning. There are different ways of educating others and the Teachers we met today are leading the change. They have the students best interest foremost and their passion shines through.

Bradley Collins, 2019 Program Participant

With thanks to Sean Fitzpatrick and staff at the Gnurad-Gundidj Campus, School for Student Leadership for hosting Leadership Great South Coast.

Thanks to our speakers Jon Clegg, Consultant, Damien Farley, WAVE Reengagement School and Simon Perry, Principal Woolsthorpe Primary School


Understanding our Place Climate Mitigation and Adaptation


How better to understand Climate Mitigation and Adaption than heading out on a field trip. Climate change is happening, its complex in nature and driven by human factors. We explored our current understanding and need to move forward with ambitious action for our region.

Hosted at Jigsaws Farms north of Hamilton our speakers shared their passion, experiences and learnings of managing risks and identifying the opportunities resulting from variable climate change in agriculture.

With over 25% of Jigsaw Farms now planted with forests or developed as wetlands. Jigsaws Farms is a fantastic example of sustainable farming practices, proving that carbon capture and biodiversity strategies do not have to be at the expense to their prime lamb operation.

Armed with rubber gloves and tongs we discussed our regions Waste Story; the group was shocked by the fact annually 760,000 Tn of waste in our region ends up in landfill and is increasing faster than our population. The group experienced firsthand by sorting through bins the importance of separation and opportunity and impact this would have on reducing landfill waste. Group discussions included, better bin labels, community education of bin streams and the need to drive a recycle economy, providing incentives to recycle and purchase recycled products. With the key message to Refuse and Reduce.

The group was privileges to visit an 8-star house in Hamilton that operates carbon neutral and are focused on providing for all their family needs without outside resources. As we sat overlooking their flood plain land now transformed into a productive “garden of Eden”. You could only be impressed our hosts spirit of independence, motivation, knowledge and skills of self-sufficient living.

We challenged how can we “do better” TODAY to live more sustainable and reduce, in our homes, workplaces and lead community sustainable conversations.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” Gandhi

Rachael James, 2019 Program Participant

The participants were challenged to understand their personal ecological footprint. Take time to assess yours.

Thanks to Mark Wootton and Eve Kantor at Jigsaw Farms for hosing us, Graeme Andersson, Climate Senior Specialist, Agriculture, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport & Resources, Kylie McIntyre, Sustainability Coordinator, Southern Grampians Shire Council.

Special thanks to LGSC Alumni Belinda Bennett, Manager Government Relations and Engagement, Barwon South West Waste and Resource Recovery Group and Jason Thomas, Owner Builder 8 Star/Solar Passive Home.


How the Great South Coast Influences the World


It was amazing to learn how our little nook – the great south coast – makes a significant impact on the world economy. From wool to milk, wood to manufacturing, the region excels, despite lacking the infrastructure and population growth seen in the capital and regional cities.

Sarah Brebner, the manager of regional economic policy at Regional Development Victoria, explained the trends and events that shaped the global economy and how it influences life at a regional, state and federal level. It was interesting to learn how globalisation and the rise of the Asian middle class can affect business at a local level. Some believe the Chinese middle class could grow to 550 million by 2022, meaning a lot of people can travel to Australia and inject money into the economy. However, how we capitalise on that influx is still unknown.

It is believed that technology could contribute around $140-$250 billion to the GDP, but a lack of infrastructure and investment means the Great South Coast could miss on a slice of the pie. We learned that digital connectivity is integral to regional growth, and Western Victoria ranks lower than Regional Victoria.

Not surprisingly, Great South Coast is also seeing an uneven distribution of population growth. Fortunately, our aging population could prop up the population growth in the short time, given that the amount of 80-year-olds and above will triple by 2050. With an aging population, the economy is moving to a service focus, with healthcare, construction and manufacturing earmarked for growth, and in the past five years, the Great South Coast added more jobs than the statewide trend.

Food production will need to increase globally by 60% by 2030, so our food and fibre businesses will see a significant boom in the next decade. With labour market challenges, such as new technologies, and increase in globalisation and a demographic change, industries and cities will need to evolve or fall behind in the global economic battle.

Fortunately, our diary industry is showing plenty of fortitude when it comes to global pressure. Dairy Australia senior industry analyst John Droppert didn’t bring any milk to share, but he did show us some cold, hard facts.
More than two billion litres of milk is produces in western Victoria, worth $192 billion. Global trends, climate changes and the Japanese’s love of cheese on their pizza all influence the exportation of milk products, giving dairy producers plenty to think about. Locally, artesian products and the elimination of the dollar-milk market are stabilising markets domestically.

The learning left the classroom in the afternoon to take in a tour of Solaris Farms in Allansford, thanks to farm manager Brendan Rea and Rowan Ault, a field service manager at Saputo. What better way to learn than from a fifth-generation dairy producer? Brendan took the participants through the dairy to see how an 800-head farm produces milk on a large scale. Despite the cold weather, there were plenty of smiles on display thanks to the hands-on learning experience.

Ben Fraser – 2019 LGSC Participant

Thank you to our Speakers, Sarah Brebner, John Droppert, Lauren Peterson, Brendan Rae and Rowan Ault


The Silent Struggles


It is difficult to know where to begin and virtually impossible to fit everything in, the common theme that resonated on our Building an Inclusive Community Program Day was the silent struggles that each of our presenters face. It can be so easy to put on your game face and show up, but to reveal what is hidden beneath the surface takes true strength.

Alma Besserdin’s self – awareness and emotional intelligence was very apparent, every example she gave highlighted the importance of understanding your own behaviour and how other might perceive you.
Alma has learnt something from every uncomfortable interaction. If we do not put ourselves forward and make ourselves accountable, why should we expect others to?

The bravery and vulnerability shown by our afternoon speakers saw a few watery eyes around the room. Ishmael Musiliza’s raw and open account of what is was like to flee Congo with his older brother and finally land safely in Australia was captivating, he did not ask for pity. It was humbling to see just how grateful Ishmael is to be here in the Western Districts and how appreciative he is of the things that most take for granted. His positivity and enthusiasm for life is infectious.

Jason Smith was equally as vulnerable and his story took a direction no one saw coming. Breaking the ice by talking about his own leadership journey and winning Young Farmer of the Year led into the challenges of coming out as gay in the agricultural community. He is a vibrant and energetic young farmer and despite being very busy with his business Jason takes time to help others battle the stigma associated with being LGBTI and working in agriculture. Ongoing seasonal challenges and unpredictable markets are challenging in themselves; the agricultural community should lead by example and support each other irrelevant of race, gender or sexual orientation.

The day was full of emotion and certainly opened up my eyes to the importance of remaining inquisitive and welcoming; everybody is fighting a battle we know nothing about, we are all the same in different ways.

Kelly Barnes, 2019 Program Partcipant

Thank you to our Speakers Alma Besserdin; Ishmael Musiliza; Jason Smith and Carly Jordan

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