Passing the baton in Ouyen
The systems and procedures that make community organisations tick can be confusing terrain to those new to it, while for “old hands” it is second nature.
The New Ventures Regional Group in the small town of Ouyen in rural Victoria took advantage of the years of absorbed knowledge in more mature members of the district’s community organisations and developed an opportunity for them to pass it on. Ouyen is located 105 km south of Mildura and 441 km north-west of Melbourne. With a population of just a little more than 1000, ushering fresh faces into the districts’ community leadership roles and Boards of Directors is bound to be a challenge.
New Ventures Regional Group not only recognises the importance of not-for-profit groups in the region, but they realise that for the successful growth of an area, the young population need to be educated accordingly so that they are fit to be the future leaders of small communities like Ouyen.
It’s not unusual for Boards to be dominated by long-serving members, and while these types know their stuff, it is also important to nurture potential future members so, as older members retire, there is someone to pass the baton on to.
The group was awarded an ANZ Seeds of Renewal grant of $5,573 to cover the costs involved in developing and seeing through a two-day leadership course and continued mentoring opportunities for a number of youngsters in the area. Members of not-for-profit organisations in the district were acquired through information sessions and seven participants, 4 females and 3 males, aged between 18 and 27 years, were selected for the program.
On March 14th and 15th the course took place and covered most everything that one needs to know about management and leadership skills, corporate governance, regional development and managing self-esteem.
Through workshops, group exercises, presentations and discussions they covered duties, responsibilities, roles and rights of Directors and of the Board, as well as organisational structures, regulatory frameworks, governance relations, ASX corporate principles and recommendation, issues of conflict of interest and more.
Following the course, the seven young participants were matched with directors in not-for-profit boards for mentoring, confidence building and potential succession planning. The mentors provided two hours of their time on four occasions. Ms Lin Baddock, New Ventures Regional Group member, said that choosing who would attend and matching them up with a suitable mentor was one of the biggest challenges.
However the organisation’s match-making skills are nothing to be sneered at, with five of the seven participants continuing to attend Board meeting as invited guests, to hopefully progress to fully-fledged Board members in the future. Ms Baddock said the training and mentoring has had a considerable effect.
“The outcomes were that the mystery of corporate governance and how boards, shareholders, members and CEO’s interact was clarified and no longer a daunting thought.” By participating in the program, seven young community members have taken a great leap forward in their knowledge and preparation to become involved in the broader community and are on the road to becoming one of Ouyen’s future leaders.