#Strongwomen. "I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful – for all of it." Kristin Armstrong
That journey seemed to resonate with young people. Having in a past life seen young people I work with lives torn apart by a series of violent armed holdups I thought deeply about how we could build resilience in our young people
This led to the Young Farming Champions program. As it so happened it was mainly young women who saw value in a commitment to lifelong learning, the importance of being critical and creative thinkers, confident communicators and collaborators.
This has seen me reach the third stage in my 20 year journey where I have been identified as a champion of the advancement of women and girls. I personally believe they are championing themselves. I see my role as the connector providing a space where we can all come together to dream big, reframe the debate, experiment, collect data and signpost ways women and girls can realise their full potential and achieve their aspirations. And ultimately a gender balanced world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive
Shoutout to Avivah Wittenberg-Cox for reframing the debate away from the “Them and Us” to “Shared Responsibility” and inspiring our graphics
Watch this space to learn more about
and a bit of light hearted relief from the National Museum
In my lifetime I have found myself in two life threatening situations. One when I was eight years old and the other in my early forties. In both situations I wish I had made better choices.
The way I have addressed my regrets is to create a national program of initiatives for young people (no matter their age, location, education, socioeconomic status, everything and anything that may prevent a level playing field for equal opportunity ) to support them to have the knowledge, confidence and role models in their lives to make life and career choices they are comfortable with.
This organisation is a charity and it relies on me to source funding. I realised in the last couple of years my biases and baggage were getting in the way of me doing this at the highest level .
I took NO too personally. I saw a NO as some-one telling me, my eight year old self wasnt worthy. I knew for my wellbeing and for the organisation I had to rid myself of this baggage.
What an extraordinary journey it has been. Surrounding myself with beautiful kind people, coaches and mentors and engaging in life long learning
One of the things I have learnt is the importance of compassionate curiosity and the best way to channel it is to think of some-one you know who has it in spades. Today I am sharing a piece written by one of the beautiful people in my life at the moment who does compassionate curiosity better than anyone I have encountered. This piece was written by Dave Stachowiak, the founder and host of Coaching for Leaders.
This is Dave’s personal reflection this week with the podcast found here and the text below
Changed My Mind
When I was 16 years old, I discovered that the police department in the town I grew up in had an explorer program. Since I was interested in a career in law enforcement at the time, I attended a meeting and quickly joined.
I was never a sworn police officer – nor have I ever done any of the difficult work in policing. However, I did spend two years volunteering in uniform at community events, riding along many times with police officers on patrol, and even graduated from a junior police academy. I once witnessed a police officer get assaulted right in front of me.
I had an up-front view of how complex the job of police officer is and, although I concluded that law enforcement wasn’t for me, it shaped a lot of my worldview – especially from the perspective of the police.
If you’ve ever listened to the Coaching for Leaders podcast, you know that I often ask experts at the end of interviews what they’ve changed their minds on. It’s a question I also pose to myself.
It’s relevant to speak on the events of the day, because George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the police has direct implications for how many of us in organizations do better.
In the recent years, and reaffirmed in the last month, I’ve changed my mind on at least three things.
First, I used to believe that, unless there was substantial evidence to the contrary, we should generally give police departments the benefit of the doubt, since excessive use of force seemed rare and isolated.
On this belief, I was wrong.
Thank goodness for smartphones with cameras. They have opened my eyes to what Black folks have been saying for years about police brutality. After seeing hundreds of these videos in recent years, it’s clear that many of these incidents are deeply rooted in systemic racism, not only in our policing, but in American society as a whole.
Yes, of course police work is dangerous, but so is commercial fishing, agriculture work, and construction. Yes, there are police leaders who have taken significant action to address racism in policing, but many also have not. I’m done giving police departments the benefit of the doubt.
Second, I used to believe that, it’s just a reality for us as a society to accept some “bad apples” in our police forces.
Comedian Chris Rock points out that there are some jobs that are too important to allow for bad behavior. Take pilots for example. No airline allows a margin of error for a certain number of crash landings each year. No nuclear power plant allows its engineers an acceptable number of meltdowns. No hospital allows surgeons a quota for ignoring the needs of certain patients.
I’m left with the uncomfortable conclusion that, particularly on this issue, racism is why I haven’t held police officers to the same standard I would expect of any other professional dealing with life-safety issues. As a result, I’ve changed my mind on allowing a different standard in policing – and in my thinking.
But the most important thing I’ve changed my mind on is my own contribution.
If George Floyd’s murder had happened five years ago and you asked me who killed him, I would have said, “Four police officers.”
I’ve changed my mind on that, too.
Today, I know his blood is also on my hands. While my contribution is different than the people who physically killed him, I and others with privilege contributed to his murder by:
Not speaking out against the militarization of America’s police departments.
Not recognizing that we need better options for responding to complex situations in our society other than just sending in armed officers.
Not pushing any of my elected representatives on this issue.
Not having enough empathy for my Black brothers and sisters who have been doing everything imaginable to get attention on this, for years.
I don’t know where this leaves you, but it leaves me with the commitment to do better on what I’m often inviting others to do:
Ask questions instead of assuming, listen for meaning instead of just words, and taking the time to know the stories of others — not just my own.
With the National Farmers Federation about to launch their Telling our Story Initiative, lets not kid ourselves it takes a lot of courage to stand up and share your story. You can listen to other people tell you how to do it until the cows come home, doing it yourself is something else again.
Having spent the last ten years sourcing funding for Picture You in Agriculture to support young people in agriculture tell their story I am always on high alert looking for others leading the way we can partner with.
I get so excited when I read an application for the Young Farming Champions program that tells us they are a Heywire Alumni. Why? Because Heywire has nailed giving young people in rural and regional Australia a voice and wow dont they use their voices powerfully
I am a huge admirer of this program because it undertands the leadership development journey thay young people require that agriculture in the main hasnt quite grasped yet. We have made some well meaning token gestures inviting young people in agriculture to the decision making table but in the main beyond a few shining examples agriculture struggles to hand over the reins and actually give them a voice.
Here is the super simple version of the highly successful Heywire model.
Young people in rural and regional Australia tell their story.
If your story is selected you are invited to a week long summitt in Canberra where you work with ABC producers to have your story heard on the ABC.
You also get to work with other young people who share your passion to develop a project that makes regional Australia a better pleace for young people with over $100,000 up for grabs to implement your project ideas.
A lot of other great stuff happens at the week long summit
But its what happens next that makes this program so special. Remember there is $100,000 up for grabs to put these young people’s ideas into action and it how the grantees are selected that lights my fire.
“I have given my honest opinion on the applications as a Heywire winner, previous grant recipient, but most importantly, as a young person. I can now safely say, that after reading over 100,000 words in applications that I have an insight into the philanthropic side of grants that most 20-year-olds don’t. It was evident that the strongest applications had involved youth in the grant writing process. Key take away: when youth share their ideas and feedback on projects targeting them, and this perspective is valued, the projects are more likely to succeed. Overall, there were many strong applications put forward (some completed solely by youth). Once these projects are implemented, they will serve to create positive change in areas of mental health, racism, safety, employment and ‘adulting’.” says Ashley Eadon
The next step in the process also involves young people with the grant recipients being selected from the short list by a panel of alumni who have come through the program.
It gets better! The grant winners are announced at a ceremony at ABC Melbourne MC’d by Heywire Alumni. What a joy it was to attend the latest annoucement of grants and do a bit of amateur filming of the event. ( next time I will sit a bit closer)
Look what happens when you guve young people a voice – listen to Chanceline sing around 10.50 mins – magnificent
Wait there is more!!! Heywire Alumni also get a role in selecting the story winners for the following year. This is called giving young people agency (see footnote ). BTW I also filmed the speeches by MD of the ABC, CEO of FRRR and Minister McKenzie which were all very impressive. I am very confident, like me, everyone in the room remembered the impact the young people had on them. My gut feeling is if we adopted a similar ethos in agriculture we could change the culture from despair to hope overnight!
Brene Brown is 100% confident you can teach people courage and so am I – lets do it Agriculture
Agency in context – Agency is the power people have to think for themselves and act in ways that shape their experiences and life trajectories. The opposite of agency is Learned Helplessness
I get asked a lot why I blog and do I know who follows me
Why I blog varies from blog to blog and why people are interested in what I say I imagine is just as diverse
I blog when I feel some-one or something has been wronged, I blog when I feel proud of something or some-one, I blog for all the people out their striving to see the bright light in a sea of darkness, I blog for the people who share my vision and look to me to amplify it.
And I blog for history as my blogs are being recorded in the National Archives
My blog started as an experiment. I wanted to know how much time and expertise it took to blog after finding myself at a meeting of agriculture’s Research and Development Corporations senior people.
In late 2011 there was close to 50 people sitting around the room at a presentation being given by Charlie Arnot from the Centre for Integrity There was a consensus in the room that the voices of our farmers should be amplified and a number of people suggested that farmers should start writing blogs. My mouth just dropped open and I just couldn’t help myself and in my blunt manner I said.
Okay if farmers are going to find the time to do this who in the room is going to support them? Just to start with you need a blogging platform and considerable amount of expertise to navigate that blogging platform.
I got a sea of Julie Bishop death stares, so I taught myself to blog.
One of the things that I blog about a lot is the need for building the capacity of our farmers to operate their businesses in a manner that will allow them to consistently and profitably meet or exceed community expectations. I will go so far as to say the fact that to date we haven’t built that capacity is the biggest threat to our food security in this country. And it is under threat. For the first time ever there is the reality we will be importing milk into this country
After 15 years of lobbying for the programs and support networks to build this capacity in our farmers I spend far too much time reminding myself of the few wins and tapping into my support network that helps me get out of bed in the morning.
Some questions we can ask ourselves
What does the community expect from our farmers beyond safe, affordable nutritious food and quality natural fibres?
How do we ensure our farmers have the capacity to meet or exceed community expectations?
Where are the gaps in our training programs?
What support networks do our farmers need?
Having worked outside agriculture for 25 years I know how other industries meet or exceed consumer expectations. It can be done. It starts with a willingness to acknowledge why its important.
83% Of Consumers Rate Transparency & Ethical Behaviour As Greatest Trust Builders
Have you ever looked at the world around you and thought…
Why am I finding things so hard?
Have you ever found your inner voice asking again and again and yet again
Surely there must be something else?
Surely there’s something more in this life for you?
somewhere in all this you guiltily reflect
About all that you do have
You remind yourself how very grateful you should be
And yet your inner voice continues to irritate, and nag and ask
What else is there?
What new journey will you embark upon?
What new worlds will you explore?
Back in 2004 I decided it was time to do more than just ruminate
I decided to act
I decided to move beyond the familiarity and comfort of my little world
I decided that my journey was to improve the world for other people
So…What was my starting point?
My world is a dairy farm on the side of a mountain at Jamberoo
This is the view from my front Verandah
I can see for miles across the Pacific Ocean.
When the sun comes up it looks even better than this
It looks idyllic doesn’t it but as the never-ending drought stories remind us farming can be a tough gig
As I watched the seasons come and go
Watched my family get out of bed every morning at 3am to start another long day’s toil
I developed a burning desire to re-imagine the way the community values our farmers and what they produce
If you want to make a difference you have to shine a spotlight on your cause.
To quote Richard Branson “No-one is successful alone”
Building a network for personal growth in the 21st century hinges on connecting and collaborating with the right people, openly sharing knowledge and insights with individuals who understand at a deeper level our goals and aspirations and who nurture a collective interest in our growth and that of the whole group. Its only when we learn to move together that we start to move faster
Bruce was one of two people on The RAS of NSW Cattle Council who took me under their wing and listened to my big ideas for revamping of the dairy cattle judging and promotion of dairy at the show. He encouraged me to join forces with others, utilise collective skills and experience, to add new connections and insights and communicate the support I needed to step into the future.
Bruce was a big picture thinker who gave his time and expertise freely, because he knew that by doing this the pie gets bigger for everyone.
Thank you Bruce I am very grateful you came into my life.
After an evening of superb food, great company and sleeping under the stars in the riverbed in my swag, albiet with plenty of merino wool to keep me warm and not overthinking how close those dingo howls were it was time for Day Two of my Larapinta Trail experience
The full 223km of the Larapinta Trail spans between the Old Telegraph Station and Mt Sonder. Day 2 took us to the Ormiston Gorge to trek the Ormiston Pound circuit. Regarded as one of the best walks of the Larapinta Trail it offers sensational views of the Chewings Range and Mount Giles. It can be a little challenging with some rock hopping and takes approximately four hours to complete. Setting off, the trail winds around scenic slopes, dropping into the Pound and returning along Ormiston Gorge via the main waterhole. We also took the detour to Ghost Gum Lookout.
Ormiston is also a sacred site for the Western Arrernte people. It’s name in Western Arrernte is Kwartatuma.
First port of call was the snack bar and there in the middle was my ideal weight maintenance nemesis – chocolate bullets. I wish I could say I stayed strong and resisted the temptation but I would be fibbing. You will be pleased to know I did also grab a couple of bananas.
We made it to the top of the Pound Walk savouring the beautiful weather
Our wonderful guide Clare pointed out all the highlights as far as the eye can see
There were plenty of opportunities for me to practice my rock hopping
I’ll bet this young lady regretted doing it in thongs. OMG
Clare leads the way to the Ghost Gum Lookout
Where the view was indeed outstanding – though I must admit I kept away from the overhanging edge
then the girls (sans Lynne) braved the chilly waters and took a dip or two
and at the end of the day I was smiling from ear to ear with a very sunburnt nose tip
Joy is what makes life beautiful. It’s what gets us through challenges and allows light in to illuminate the shadows. Joy heals our wounds, inspires us to greatness, and fills our souls with goodness.
I signed up for the Inner Compass 4 Day Larapinta Trail Trek to help put the joy back in my life. And you know what my ‘Get out in Nature’ with some inspiring people beyond the agriculture sector may just be the smartest thing I have done in recent times.
Our little group of six got to see the views most tourists don’t even know exist. Trek Larapinta ( what an awesome customer service business they are) has built relationships with the traditional land owners who generously provide non-indigenous Australians ( and overseas visitors) with genuine cultural awareness experiences and access to some very special places.
Meet Trek Larapinta Guide and Aboriginal woman Deanella Mack. Dee took us into her world through her storylines and humour that made her people and their culture so real to me. You can find out more about Dee and her business Cultural Connections here
Dee sees that a system that has failed Aboriginal people in Central Australia for generations has also failed non-Indigenous people in how they learn about or appreciate Aboriginal cultures, histories and concepts. She believes cultural misunderstandings, often come with the best intentions and as being “like when you’re driving a car and you feel something’s wrong but you don’t know how to fix it. Others may not even think anything’s wrong.” Those that have had the most positive experiences in her sessions and went on to positively impact communities later were “open-minded and had the willingness to receive new info that may not sit well with their current beliefs and experiences”. Source
With that new appreciation of the landscape our group became earnest learners listening and looking with new eyes
If Priscilla could do it in heels then surely Lynne could do it in her Salomon Hiking Boots. The iconic hike to the top of Kings Canyon is known as the Rim Walk and its located in Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory. A spellbinding 6 kilometre circuit transcending down into the Garden of Eden and back to the top to wonder at the 360 views.
The start of the walk is definitely daunting with 1000 steps that go straight to the sky and if Priscilla did it in heels so there was no excuse for Lynne not to do it in the recommended footwear .
However i would be very wary if I had a knee or hip replacement. After you take in the views from the top of the stairs you continue your journey through Priscilla’s Crack made famous by one of my favourite movies Priscilla Queen of the Desert
From there you will see the domes known as the Lost City due to it resembling an ancient city.
The Ghost Gum is a stand-out against the rich red gorges. It has the tenacity to find a toe-hold and endure life in the most inhospitable crevice of a rock face
Next up is your choice to continue exploring the top or take the stairs down to the picturesque Garden of Eden filled with lush greenery where you can cross a bridge over the sacred watering hole. Special shoutout to all those wonderful people who installed the stairs and bridges to get to this magnificent part of the world.
Once you have captured this iconic moment take the stairs back up to the south side of the canyon. I did the walk just after sunrise as the sun slowly reflects onto the sandstone turning a stunning array of oranges and reds.
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk can be completed in about three to four hours depending on how often you stop to admire the extraordinary scenery. We stopped plenty of times and managed to do it in 3 hours
No matter what you think or imagine you’ll find the views magical. I guarantee they will leave you spellbound. (and these are just the photos from my iPhone – wait till you see what I have on my camera)
In 2016 I decided it was time I experienced more of our magnificent country. At the top of the bucket list was to walk the Larapinta Trail. Getting fit was a must. A hamstring avulsion in February 2017 meant a May 2017 Larapinta Walk was out the of the question. 12 months of rehab and here I am.
Not having been to the Northern Territory before I flew into Alice Springs early. On my first night in town I caught up with local dynamo Donna Digby who introduced me to the world most famous Vanilla Slice which we shared after dinner at Casa Nostra.
The first thing I learnt about Ulura was its a popular place at this time of year and its a must to book accommodation months in advance. not doing my research early enough I found myself unable to find accommodation and got around my naivety by booking an AAT Kings Tour.
Ulura is a cultural experience not to be missed. Everyone I met was inspired by the natural beauty and power of the land. It will open your hearts and minds to the enduring culture of the Anangu people who have inhabited this part of the world for 30,000 plus years
Sunrise at Uluru – The size of the rock let alone its beauty has to be seen to be believed
Kata Tjuta means “many heads” and with mine there were 37 the day I visited. It is a sacred men’s site for the Anangu people under their traditional law
I loved the diversity of the native vegetation – special favourites were the red river gums and the spinifex grass.
The Kuniya Walk is a short track to the Mutitjula Waterhole, home of the Wanampi, an ancestral watersnake. In the special times of rain, you will expereince magical waterfalls
Mutitjulu Waterhole- on my visit is was the awe inspiring colour mix of the rock formation that caught my eye. This truly is a special place
When travelling alone it helps to master the selfie – this is me and Mt Olga
My last night at Ulura was spent under the stars feasting on kangaroo and other delicacies at the Cultural Centre. The evening included a tour of the night sky. The weather didnt disappoint, nor did the Southern Cross and Milky Way
Please don’t climb Uluru – its a heartfelt plea many people ignore
What visitors call ‘the climb’ is of great spiritual significance to the Anangu people. As a guest on their land they ask us to choose to respect their law and culture by not climbing
‘This is a really important sacred thing you are climbing…. You shouldn’t climb. Its not the real thing about this place. The real thing is listening to everything. We hope the tourists will brighten up and say “Oh I see. This is the right way. This is the proper way: no climbing.”
I understand it has been decided for us by the government. NO CLIMBING – will also become Non-indigenous law in 2019.
The Kata Tjuta National Park is one of the great wonders of the world. Next time I will seek out a tour guided by the indigenous people and get a greater understanding of the Anangu people and rejoice that their culture is strong and alive.