Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 07, 2024


Regional Development Leadership Development Program

The Hon. T.T. NGO (15:18): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Can the minister inform the chamber about how the government is supporting leadership development in regional South Australia, including by expanding training opportunities to a wider cohort of emerging leaders?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:18): I thank the honourable member for his question. Over the past two years, the Regional Development Australia network has successfully managed a state government funded Regional Leadership Development Program.

The success of this program is immediately apparent. Contracted to provide training for 420 participants, the program reached three times this number, training more than 1,300 regional leaders. The success of the program has been built on its regional design and regional delivery. Each RDA contracted their own course providers and designed their own leadership program to fill the identified training gaps in their own communities.

Where the program has been most successful has been in providing flexible, family-friendly hours for training and delivering the programs in-region, in 72 regional towns where emerging leaders actually live. This accessibility has meant that previously under-represented leadership cohorts were able to fill many of the training places and take up that opportunity.

Overall, 68 per cent of participants in the program were female, peaking at 88 per cent of those receiving training in the Yorke and Mid North region. This provides the opportunity for regional businesses, industry bodies and community organisations to attract and appoint a greater diversity of board and committee members in the future.

Preparing them for these positions, the program courses variously feature training in governance, financial accounting, strategic and project planning, marketing, managing volunteers, wellbeing and resilience, empowering leadership, harnessing diversity and inclusion, and cross-sector collaboration.

My own experience when attending a number of sessions across different regions is that the courses attracted a range of participants, from experienced community, business or public sector leaders through to younger or early career people with an interest in civic service. Based on the strong performance of the first two years of the program, I am very pleased that we have been able to extend as a government the annual $1 million investment for a further two years.

I am advised by the RDA network that they are confident the program's strong demand will continue as referrals from current participants flow through to potential new applicants. I also encourage regional community members who wish to learn new skills and empower themselves to better contribute to their community to reach out to their local RDA and register their interest in the Regional Leadership Development Program.

Participants don't need to be particularly well qualified in a particular stream or even think of themselves as a conventional leader. The most important thing is that they have a willingness to learn and the willingness and desire to serve their community. I congratulate the RDA network and their course providers for administering such a successful program over the past two years and, once again, I encourage regional South Australians to consider registering for this program.