Linking Leaders Newsletter - Issue 2

Welcome to the Linking Leaders newsletter

Photo of Kerrie Tim

Hi folks

Welcome to our second edition of Linking Leaders newsletter. It’s that time of year again… the end of this year’s national program. The 2009/10 program has seen over 700 participants attend the national program with almost another 700 attending a regional or targeted program. These latest participants join you and thousands of others in a life-long leadership journey aimed at building good lives – for individuals, families and communities. Throughout the year we have heard inspiring stories from many participants. We have heard of change, challenge and achievement at the personal level as well as more broadly as you developed activities and delivered them in your communities.

In this edition, two of our participants share their stories of how they are making an impact in their communities. We also hear from four of our participants who have continued their journeys through Advanced Leadership Opportunities. These examples show just some of the range of leadership development opportunities that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are seizing in their leadership journey.

This edition of Linking Leaders also provides information on the newly established National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples which was launched in May 2010. The Congress is seeking the involvement of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to strengthen their voice to government and others.

As we look forward to the 2010/11 program and a new group of participants from across urban, regional and remote Australia, let me leave you with one of our key themes for this next year – mentoring. Having the support of people you respect, people who will help you develop your mind, heart and body and who will delight in your efforts and will inspire you to greatness. If you have not got yourself a mentor, find one; if you can’t find one, be one to someone else and model the behaviours you want to see.

Ghandi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Enjoy your journey.

Kerrie Tim
Group Manager
Indigenous Leadership and Engagement Group
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

"What lies ahead of you and what lies behind you is nothing compared to what lies within you."

Ralph Waldo Emerson


FaHCSIA Indigenous Leadership Program Update

Registrations have now closed for the 2010-11 National Leadership Program. We have received applications from Indigenous men, women and youth in urban, regional and remote communities across Australia and the Torres Strait.

The first of many workshops will begin in July. By the end of the year, we anticipate that over 2500 people will have completed the national program, making positive changes in their lives to strengthen themselves, their families and communities.

Participants announced for Healing Our Spirit Worldwide – Sixth Gathering

Four past participants have been selected through an intensive submission process to attend the Healing Our Spirit Worldwide – Sixth Gathering.

Healing Our Spirit Worldwide is an Indigenous cultural celebration which focuses on the successes, wise practices and common issues in health, healing and addictions within Indigenous communities.

Jeremy Heathcote, Che Stow, Charlene Lui and Laurence West will be travelling to Hawaii for seven days in September, where they will have the opportunity to learn, share stories, strengthen international networks and share best practices with Indigenous peoples of the world.

We wish them all the best as they take the next step on their leadership journey and look forward to hearing about their learning upon their return.

Individuals can still register to attend this event which will be held from 3rd - 10th September in Honolulu.

For more information please visit

Indigenous Economic Development Strategy – have your say

On the 24th May, the Australian Government released a draft of its long-term strategy to increase participation of Indigenous Australians in the economy.

The Indigenous Economic Development Strategy is a national framework which will be used to guide and inform future policy decisions in Indigenous economic development.

The strategy focuses on five key action areas:

  • increasing individual capabilities and resources to participate in the economy through a strong focus on education and motivation
  • increasing participation in the economy through sustainable jobs
  • supporting Indigenous business and entrepreneurship
  • assisting individuals and communities to achieve financial security and economic independence, and
  • strengthening foundations for economic development by creating the right incentives for participation and investing in the underpinnings of economic activity.

Interested individuals and organisations are invited to provide comment on the draft and help increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders participating in the economy.

So have your say on the Indigenous Economic Development Strategy by putting in a submission - available for download at

The closing date for submissions is 1st November 2010. The final strategy is expected by the end of the year.

Future Indigenous leaders in the visual arts: Wesfarmers Arts Indigenous Fellowship

The National Gallery of Australia invites Indigenous Australians to apply for the Wesfarmers Arts Indigenous Fellowship and the Indigenous Arts Leadership Program to encourage Indigenous leadership and professional development in the visual arts.

Wesfarmers Limited and the National Gallery of Australia have partnered together to develop an Indigenous Fellowship to support Indigenous leadership within the visual arts sector. The fellowship aims to create opportunities for the exchange of knowledge between individuals, communities and cultural institutions.

The Wesfarmers Arts Indigenous Fellowship will initially run over four years as a professional program for long-term development, networking, exchange and mentorship. During this time, four participants will undertake a high-level, project-based fellowship program for up to two years in their field of interest. A shorter accredited Indigenous Arts Leadership program has also been established and will have a strong focus on the visual arts sector and leadership skills.

For further information please visit: or call 1800 666 766. Applications close in August 2010.  

National Stolen Generation’s Leadership Workshop

The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs invites members of the Stolen Generations to nominate for a four day leadership workshop in Adelaide.

The workshop will run from the 11-14 October 2010.

The leadership workshop will:

  • increase your leadership skills
  • promote leadership and empowerment
  • strengthen community connection, and
  • support you to take up leadership roles.

The workshop offers the opportunity for you to understand and develop your own leadership style and skills in a supportive and confidential environment. You may come away with a greater vision for your life and pathways for achieving this. There is the opportunity to leave with greater clarity around what is next for you personally.  The inclusion of the ‘walking in two worlds’ module will assist you to understand your journey and your place in whichever community you choose to engage with.

The Department will cover your travel, accommodation and food costs for the duration of the workshop.

If you would like to be part of this opportunity, complete the attached registration form and submit it by Friday 3 September by fax (02)6204 4777or email

For more information phone the Building Sector Capacity Section on 1800 081 549.


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Leadership Profile

So far in 2009-10 we have had over 700 men and women attend the National Indigenous Leadership Program run by FaHCSIA. Since its inception in 2004, thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have experienced positive changes in their lives through participating in our programs.

Meet Jolleen Hicks, Young WA Women Lawyer of the Year

Jolleen Hicks
 08-09 Indigenous Women’s Leadership Program

Jolleen Hicks is a Ngarluma woman from Roebourne in WA who currently works as a Native Title Claims lawyer with the Kimberley Land Council based in Broome. She is working on five native title claims and is loving her new role. She says the best part of the job is “being on country and learning from the traditional owners of the Kimberley”. She is proud to be working in an area of the law that is about recognising the first people of this country and their special connection to land and waters.

She is also the youngest Board member of the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation, a not for profit organisation which focuses on education programs for Indigenous students across Australia.

Since completing the Indigenous Leadership Program in 2009, Jolleen has travelled to British Columbia and Washington State as part of an Indigenous Rotary Group Study Exchange, moved from Perth to Broome (2400kms) to pursue a career in native title, and received the award for ‘Young WA Woman Lawyer of the Year 2010’.

Jolleen has three passions: family, education and Indigenous rights. She believes that education is the key to addressing many of the issues that affect our Indigenous people. Jolleen hopes to use her experience and journey to inspire other young Indigenous people to pursue their goals and aspirations because dreams do come true. She says if you want something bad enough and you’re willing to work hard, you can make it happen.

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Leadership Activities

Participant leadership activities showcase people working with community at the local and regional level to share skills and build a stronger leadership base.

Leader: Karl Briscoe, 2007 Indigenous Men’s Leadership Program
Activity name: Men’s Consultation Meeting

Men's Group

For his leadership activity, Karl Briscoe held a consultation meeting with men from his community (Mossman Gorge, QLD) to identify whether there was interest in forming a Men’s support group. The response was positive, resulting in a closely knit support group of eight men who met weekly and shared a common goal of improving their lives for the betterment of themselves, their families and their community. The group is still running and discusses issues such as domestic violence, social and emotional issues, health, economic reforms, culture and any other issues the group identifies as having an impact on themselves and their community.

One of the challenges Karl faced was finding someone in his community with the same vision to help formulate the Men’s Support Group and enable it to be sustainable. Karl overcame this challenge by not rushing into formulating the group but planning and consulting with the community to ensure the group addressed its needs. In the initial meeting the group determined that the coordinator of the Douglas Shire Indigenous Family Support Service would co-facilitate with Karl so that if either of them was away the group would still be able to meet.

Karl says that appropriate consultation needs to form the basis for your activity, planning should be culturally sensitive and you need to identify how your activity can become sustainable. Allowing everyone to contribute gives participants a sense of ownership and you also need to be non-judgemental and not force your values and beliefs onto the group.

Leader: Cindy Lesley and Raylene Ballangarry, 2008/09 Indigenous Women’s Leadership Program
Activity name: Linking to Identity

Painting clap sticks

Cindy and Raylene designed an educational program targeted at young people in custody aged 14-20 years old. Their activity reconnected young offenders to their culture and heritage through activities such as learning about bush tucker, technology and traditional Aboriginal ceremony.

Cindy and Raylene envisioned their program as a tool that the youth could use to increase their self respect and to one day become leaders in their communities.

They now deliver ‘Linking to Identity’ and 'Who’s me mob' programs in communities and Juvenile Justice on the north coast and are working with a group of people to develop a Youth Transitional Residence program where youth can re-integrate into the community post custody.

Cindy also works with communities by looking at ways to build capacity, sustainability through education and leadership courses designed to build leadership skills in her people working in mainstream agencies.

Raylene is the Chairperson of the Bowraville Local Aboriginal Land Council, attending meetings on behalf of the Board and is currently studying at TAFE.

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Advanced Leadership Opportunities (ALOs)

Teela Reid and Josh Hollingsworth attended the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York

Teela Reid and Josh Hollingsworth in the General Assembly Hall.

As an Advanced Leadership Opportunity (ALO), FaHCSIA sponsored Teela Reid and Josh Hollingsworth to attend the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and to actively participate in the Indigenous Youth Caucus.

At the Youth Caucus they were given the opportunity to discuss Indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, environment, education, health and human rights with Indigenous youth from around the world.

We asked Teela and Josh to reflect on their experience.

Teela: “Participating in the UNPFII has inevitably broadened my horizons and enriched my outlook on life. Knowing what lies beyond Australian shores gives me greater perspective on how to approach issues we face domestically. As a government youth delegate participating in the forum, my experience was uniquely transparent. Venturing to the depths of politics and exploring the government domain, in contrast to observing my mob advocating for our inherent rights, was a daunting and compelling learning curve.”

Josh: “The chance to attend the UNPFII was a great opportunity. The trip greatly broadened my horizons and perspectives on the greater world situation. At home we are only concerned with our own issues, so hearing about other Indigenous people’s struggles from all over the world was very overwhelming. I was told in a workshop before the trip that if you close your eyes and listen to the interpreter, a lot of the issues are similar. This is so true because we, as Indigenous people, all face the same issues, it’s just that some are further along the development path than others and this was really interesting to notice.”

Matthew Nagas tells us how completing his Certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership has helped him continue to grow as a strong leader.

Matthew Nagas 2007/08 Indigenous Men’s Leadership Program

During my working life journey, I have been very fortunate to have had great guidance from my parents who laid the foundation for the early growing stages of my life. They taught me good work ethics, family values and the history of my ancestry which has helped me identify who I am and how my community can move forward as one people.

My working life started when I was 13 years old in the cane fields of Bundaberg with my dad. He learnt the art of traditional boomerang making around the campsite at night from the Traibelang and Waki-Waki Elders, and passed those skills on to me. In 1990, I started my own business manufacturing Boomerangs and Aboriginal Artefacts.

Since then I have moved on to complete certificates in IT and Business. I have been a committee member of our first Aboriginal housing organisation, have held all positions from President to board member on the Local Indigenous Bundaberg Eels Football club and have been involved in youth programs with the Munjoorum Education Council.

Over the past seven years while working as an Indigenous Employment Trainee Support Officer (IETSO), I have gained a Certificate IV in Government through a Registered Training Organisation and certificates II and IV in Indigenous Leadership through the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre (AILC) and FaHCSIA.

I have grown so much and have been able to move forward within my community. The training has given me self confidence and greater knowledge in dealing with our youth, the everyday obstacles of running a community and the politics that can bog us down. My leadership has enabled me to assist my family and community to start to make a difference.

I encourage all those I come in contact with to participate in the Indigenous Leadership Program. It is because of these programs, the great people I have met and networks I have made along the way, that I am well on my way to achieving my goals.

Regina Bennet tells us about travelling with Australian Volunteers International to Papua New Guinea

Women’s group outside of Papua New Guinea’s Parliament House.

My name is Regina Bennett. I participated in the first National Indigenous Women’s Leadership Program in 2004. Since then I have attended numerous meetings, workshops and travelled overseas to Canada to attend the Healing Our Spirit Worldwide Conference in 2006. Most recently I travelled with seven other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to Papua New Guinea (PNG) in November 2009.

I have travelled to a few different countries in my lifetime, however this trip to PNG was exceptional. It is very impressive that the country is self governed by the PNG people, though major improvements need to happen to improve their lives. The women I met are strong and educated but they are not treated equal to the men. This is the result of past and present government not recognising women’s issues and their needs.

In Port Moresby, we visited the home of a wonderful woman who supports women and children from rural and remote villages who are homeless and victims of violence. It was very sad and inspiring to see that despite their struggles, they support each other and use their craft (sewing and bilim making) to survive and make ends meet. It was very emotional meeting with the women and listening to their stories.

During our visit to Parliament House, we met with approximately thirty PNG women and spoke about what we do in our communities. We met Minister Dame Carol Kidu, the Women’s Issues Minister and the only woman in Parliament who gave us a tour of Parliament House and told us about its history. She explained that she has been working hard to create at least twelve seats in Parliament for PNG women and will find out by mid 2010 if these positions will be accepted.

We then flew to Mt Hagen to visit the Susu Mamas Organisation workers where we exchanged information about the types of services we have access to in Australia and how they benefit our communities. In the short time we spent there we met some wonderful people who work very hard to survive each day.

PNG is lucky that they own their own land and manage their own affairs; however they still lack a range of services such as public transport, employment and training opportunities, infrastructure and a range of health programs. The number of people with HIV is quite concerning and I wonder whether Australia could do more to find solutions to the problem.

It makes you realise how lucky we are in Australia and appreciate the number of support services we have access to.

I have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Royal Darwin Hospital’s Accident and Emergency (A&E) area. I work with the Aboriginal Liaison Officers to provide support and accommodation for women who present at A&E with injuries relating to domestic and family violence. This is similar to a project that the women of PNG are doing on a voluntary basis and I am grateful that I can use this experience to follow in their lead.

Teela, Josh, Matthew and Regina are all past participants of the Indigenous Leadership Program and applied to attend these events as an Advanced Leadership Opportunity (ALO). ALOs aim to extend the capacity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community individuals showing leadership potential and past participants of the FaHCSIA Indigenous Leadership programs. FaHCSIA partners with other organisations such as Australian Volunteers International, to provide these opportunities. As opportunities arise we will let you know how you can apply.

"I want to be a strong leader. I strive for excellence for my community and I want to be a woman who stands up for my community."

Louise Manas, 2004/05 Indigenous Women’s Leadership Program

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FaHCSIA’s Indigenous Leadership & Engagement Group Update

The Indigenous Leadership & Engagement Group within FaHCSIA works across many areas not only strengthening Indigenous leadership. We have responsibility for some major initiatives nationwide.

Resetting the Relationship

Following the historic Apology of 13 February 2008 and in progressing closing the gap reforms, the Government has prioritised resetting the relationship with Indigenous Australians.

Closing the Gap in Indigenous disadvantage means improving wellbeing, economic and social participation and the ability to manage life-transitions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders so all Indigenous people can have access to the same choices and opportunities as other Australians.

The Leadership Delivery Branch in the Indigenous Leadership and Engagement Group (ILEG) has conducted five workshops in the Northern Territory between February and June this year. These workshops held in Alice Springs and Darwin, were attended by 123 community members and provided participants with tools for their leadership journey and their involvement in the present challenges facing NT communities. Modules including values, vision and goal setting, community consultation and community development formed the core of the programs for the workshops.

Remote Service Delivery workshops

Under the Australian Government’s policy of Resetting the Relationship with Indigenous Australians, the Remote Service Delivery (RSD) National Partnership Agreement provides for capacity building and leadership training in communities as well as cultural awareness training for government staff.

ILEG’s role in this process is to work closely with the Regional Operation Centres (ROCs) to develop and deliver leadership workshops to meet the needs identified in communities towards enhancing the leadership capacity of community people to engage more effectively with government.

ROCs are where the Commonwealth and State / Northern Territory staff work together to support the 29 RSD communities. The ROCs responsibilities include developing and implementing Local Implementation Plans with the RSD communities, coordination of all government services in each priority community and reporting on progress and issues within the region.

The Leadership Delivery Branch within ILEG has delivered 11 of these RSD workshops to a total of 264 community members in the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales.

The workshops were designed in consultation and focussed on individual and community development including values, vision and goal setting, democratic governance and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agenda.

Indigenous Engagement Officers

In mid 2007 the Commonwealth Government introduced Government Business Managers (GBMs) and Indigenous Engagement Officers (IEOs) as part of a suite of measures in the Northern Territory directed towards Closing the Gap. These two measures were extended to other areas across the country under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Service Delivery.

The Australian Government has implemented a national program under which local IEOs are employed to provide a critical coordination and communication role within their community to more effectively link community and Government and build greater trust and understanding between community and Government.

The IEOs have been working closely with local GBMs and have created vital links between their community and the Government. The IEOs have increased their Community’s knowledge and understanding of Government business, and have developed partnership arrangements with other Government representatives and agencies working in the community, for example, Centrelink, State/Territory Housing, Mission Australia and Local Councils/Corporations.

They have been able to do this by:

  • meeting and talking with individuals, families, clans and community groups about how they want the community to develop
  • talking with people about how to become more involved in Government decision making, and
  • providing feedback to community and governments about key Government activity, in particular the Remote Service Delivery or other National Partnerships.

As a result of their work they have increased the Government’s knowledge and understanding of community.

Meet Delivery team members!

L-R back row: Adrian Beaumont, Geoffrey Sentence, Carly Nugent, Lois Roulston, Michael Zitha and Simone Mitchell. Front row: T.J Oberleuter, Charlotte Collins, Jim Ramsay and Pippa Johnstone. Absent: Lee-Anne Barnes, Chris Simpson, Dianne Collins, Gail Ah Kit and Phavanni Skinner.

The National Indigenous Leadership Delivery team work in the Indigenous Leadership and Engagement Group.

This section is responsible for the delivery of workshops to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants through the national program, regional and targeted programs, including the Remote Service Delivery priority communities and three WA communities identified under the FaHCSIA Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

These programs are in support of the Government’s major initiative to Close the Gap in Indigenous Disadvantage.

The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples is underway …

Ethics Council members Lester-Irabinna Rigney and Tom Calma,  Executive Committee co-chairs Kerry Arabena and Sam Jeffries, members Colleen Hayward, Daphne Yarram, Josephine Bourne, Klynton Wanganeen. Absent: Ned David.
Photo:  Alex Wisser

The new national voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (NCAFP) is now a reality with approval of funding and the launch of the body in Sydney on 2 May.

The organisation’s primary roles and functions will be to:

  • formulate policy and advice to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people contribute to and lead policy development on issues that affect them
  • advocate and lobby act as a conduit between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the government, corporate and non-government sectors, and
  • play an active role in monitoring and evaluating government performance.

So, how can you be a part of this important and exciting organisation?

The National Executive will spend the remainder of 2010 developing policies and procedures for the new body, establishing its membership base and putting the necessary structures in place for the elections for the first annual meeting of the delegates to the 120 person National Congress (expected to be held in November 2010).

The election of the National Executive will take place following the establishment of the National Congress.

With the election only six months away it’s time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, wherever they live, to get involved.

Becoming a member of the NCAFP is the first and the most critical step. It is the members who will drive the organisation and shape its policy platform. A strong and diverse membership is needed to ensure that the NCAFP has legitimacy with communities, governments and the business and community sectors.

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of eighteen can apply to become an individual member and will be able seek election or appointment to the National Congress. You can exercise your democratic right by informing yourself about the NCAFP and its role by becoming a member and by encouraging your family and friends to participate.

There are other ways of getting involved. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, companies, peak bodies and national representative bodies can also apply to become members of the NCAFP. If you are a member of any incorporated Indigenous organisation, you can take the initiative and encourage the board to take out membership of the National Congress.

The announcement of the incorporation of the National Congress and the National Executive membership was made at the historic Australian Hall in Sydney, the site of the landmark 1938 Aborigines Conference led by Aboriginal rights campaigner Jack Paton.

“More than 70 years ago the Aborigines Conference was held here and Jack Paton as its president said in this very space, ‘We have decided to make our voice heard,’”
Co-Chair Sam Jeffries told the press conference.

If you would like to be one of those with a strong voice why not find out more by visiting

You can also keep up to date with what is happening by regularly checking the Australian Government’s Indigenous portal at, where there is a direct link to information on the NCAFP and the National Executive.

"The ultimate measure of us is not where we stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where we stand at times of challenge and controversy."

Martin Luther King Jr

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Get involved

Places are still available on the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme for past participants of Indigenous Leadership programs aged between 18 – 23 years.

You will learn about teamwork, leadership and communication skills, work with disadvantaged youth and meet people from around the country. The Royal Australian Navy crew will teach you the technical skills required to sail a square-rigged vessel including helming, navigation, rope handling, working aloft and even command. Not to mention you will be challenged and have heaps of fun.

9th World Indigenous Women and Wellness Conference 22 – 25 August

We received over 90 submissions for the 9th World Indigenous Women and Wellness Conference in Darwin. The standard of applications was extremely high and we had a hard time narrowing down the list to select 20 successful participants. The conference will be held at the end of August and is an opportunity for international communities to share research and best practices on Family Violence, Language, Health & Wellness, Leadership and Cultural Identity.

Individuals can still register to attend this event. For more information please visit


Jobs Australia Foundation – Indigenous Youth Leadership Program

FaHCSIA in partnership with Jobs Australia Foundation is sponsoring five past participants of its Indigenous Leadership Program to participate at this event.

The program provides 15 Indigenous young people and nine Indigenous mentors with the opportunity to participate in a range of leadership training and development activities over a 10 month period. It aims to encourage and motivate participants to become positive leaders and role models within their communities. Participants get the opportunity to complete the 96km trek of the Kokoda Trail, visit local communities and meet young people from Papua New Guinea. They also attain accredited training from the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre (AILC) in the Certificate II in Indigenous Leadership. Overall it is physically, emotionally and intellectually challenging and stimulating for everyone involved.

Youth Challenge Australia – Indigenous Youth Leadership Program – Vanuatu Volunteers

The second leg of this joint venture with Youth Challenge Australia is currently underway which will see five participants departing for their six week stint as volunteers in Vanuatu on the 24th June. We would like to congratulate Bev Seiver (past participant of FaHCSIA’s Leadership Program) who was successful with her application to participate at this event as a field staff member.

If you see something that you feel would enhance your leadership journey, please send in a submission outlining the event details, the kind of support you require and how you believe it will benefit yourself, family and community.

For more information on Advanced Leadership Opportunities, contact Angelo Napolitano on 1800 724 185 or email

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Remember to keep in touch

Keeping in touch with other participants is a great way to network, share experiences and learn what each other is doing. Have you been in contact lately?

We are listening to YOU

We appreciate your feedback on our leadership development workshops, and use the information you provide to improve what we do.

Level 5, 16 Bowes Street, Woden ACT 2617
PO Box 7576 Canberra Business Centre ACT 2610
Leadership FREECALL: 1800 249 873

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