Creating Inspiring Rural Community Leadership & Engagement (CIRCLE)

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The CIRCLE program has been developed by FRRR, with the support of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

CIRCLE seeks to create capacity and enhance community leadership in rural and remote communities, tapping into local ingenuity and resources to reality-test ideas and put them into practice, learning along the way, as well as celebrating and sharing success stories. It aims to create:

  • Stronger leadership skills and enhanced local capacity in communities;
  • More rural, regional and remote community individuals with increased leadership skills and confidence to engage at a local level;
  • Strengthened skills within individuals and community organisations to consider, plan, prepare and respond to future change – challenges and opportunities;
  • Greater sustainability of community organisations due to increased skills and knowledge of how to develop innovative solutions for local issues; and
  • Increased ability to access a wider range of resources and support to implement projects.

The program targets support toward community leadership programs and groups, community foundations and other local non-profit organisations with a role in leading and facilitating change in their communities.

The CIRCLE program has three components:

1.  Training and development materials and resources

We have developed a number of tools (including webinars, animated video and video case studies of real life examples) to increase confidence and skills to take on leadership roles and respond to future change. The tools are based around five themes and feature free webinars and online video case studies so community groups can learn from real life examples. The five themes are:

a.  Good ideas. Good people. Now what?
  • WATCH the recording of webinar 1: In a webinar facilitated by Alexandra Gartmann, Loretta Carroll, Chairman of Into Our Hands Foundation discussed how her group got started. You can also read through the recap and download the presentation and speaking notes.
  • WATCH: The Newstead community in Victoria held a community summit in 2008 to talk about local issues and their future vision for Newstead. Working groups were formed and they have since delivered a raft of community projects that benefit their local area. Read more here.
b.  Seeking Funding – how to access the funding to turn your project into a reality
c. Maintaining Momentum - working with change and planning ahead
  • WATCH the recording of webinar 3: Ian McClelland, Founder, Birchip Cropping Group and Kerry Anderson, Projects Manager at Community Leadership Loddon Murray shared their insights and tactics to help community groups continue to build capacity by focusing on their spheres of influence. You can also read through the recap here.
  • WATCH: The Cummins and District Enterprise Committee was established in 1997 following the closure of a number of local businesses. This CIRCLE video showcases how this organisation is the driving force behind Cummins maintaining its momentum and staying on track. Read more here.
d.  Building the Skilled Leadership Group – utilising local skills
  • WATCH the recording of webinar 4: Andrew Huffer, drew on findings from FRRR’s recent environmental scan and with Katrina Baddeley, Executive Officer, Victorian Regional Community Leadership Programs (VRCLP), discussed how groups can implement lasting positive leadership outcomes. There is also a recap of the webinar and the presentation is available to download. There were also a number of questions asked during the webinar and you can read the answers to the questions here.
  • WATCH The Red Earth Community Leadership program: This video tells the story of how a rural community devastated by drought and two enormous floods created a tailored leadership program. They share the building blocks they used to create an effective local program.
e. Community Foundations 101
  • WATCH the recording of webinar 5: Alexandra Gartmann and Alice Macdougall, Legal Counsel, Herbert Smith Freehills, discussed the role that Community Foundations and Donation Accounts can play in helping rural, regional and remote communities. You can also download the presentation slides.
  • WATCH Community Foundations 101: Seven videos that investigate what a community foundation is, how they are structured, legal considerations and possible funding alternatives, as well as some tips on getting started. Hear from guests Georgie McKay from Stand Like Stone Foundation, Pat Claridge, from Tomorrow:Today Foundation, Dr Gill Sellar from Denmark Community Foundation and Robyn Hill from the Marysville and Triangle Community about their experiences building a successful community foundation.
  • WATCH a series of films about Community Foundations, produced by the Victorian Government. The eight films cover the full range of issues, from formation to structure and legals, fund-raising and granting.

2.  A $350,000 grants program and diversity scholarships

CIRCLE grants

Grants were awarded focused on building leadership skills and increasing capacity within rural, regional and remote Community Foundations and Community Leadership Programs.

Twenty groups, a mix of leadership program providers and community foundations, received grants up to $25,000.

Read the media release for details of the recipients.

CIRCLE Diversity Scholarships - deveoping best practice community leadership opportunities

As well as the grants program, four Victorian Regional Community Leadership Program Diversity Scholarships were made to pilot and demonstrate the impact that diversity scholarships can have. In late 2014, a total of $10,000 in scholarship funds were alllocated and are being administered by the Victorian Regional Community Leadership Program. Two participants in each of the Leadership Great South Coast and Fairley Leadership programs are accessing the funding to undertake leadership training. These scholarships will kick start a state wide drive to produce more diverse regional leaders, strengthen the voice of diverse populations in regional Victoria, and model how increased leadership diversity can be achieved, through best practice case studies.

3.  An environmental scan to assess gaps in leadership training

This survey was undertaken in December 2014. The aim of the research was to ascertain what leadership development support is available across rural, regional and remote Australia and inform future investments. The findings of the survey helped to inform the focus areas of the grants. High level results were shared as part of CIRCLE Webinar 4 in April 2015. The full report has now been released and is available to download.

Further information

If you have any queries, please contact the Program Manager Neriman Kemal on 1800 170 020 or via email.

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