I’ve always pictured myself as a marine biologist until the realisation that not everyone gets to swim with the Dolphins, thus leading me into the field of the health industry. After travelling and living/working/volunteering abroad, love brought me back to the country where I currently work as the acting speech pathology manager and clinically on the rehabilitation ward within Goulburn Valley Health. I possess a passion for working with adults with neurological impairments and doing so through a strong multi-disciplinary team approach.
Along with improving access to healthcare, my other interests include education and health and well-being; which are areas that I am hoping to join positions of leadership post the Fairley Leadership Program. Furthermore, from a recreational perspective you will find me walking my West Highland white terrier puppy, booking my next international holiday or attending a regular class at the gym. My motivation for applying to become a participant of the 2016 Fairley Leadership program was to partake in community capacity building in the City of Greater Shepparton. I wish to strengthen my skills and confidence to develop a community project and to motivate and encourage others to assume leadership roles in my community. I am excited to have the opportunity to be part of a strong and committed group that can divide the load whilst simultaneously forming partnerships with other organizations in the community.
The last 8 months of the Fairley Leadership journey have been the most memorable moments of my life. Not only has the program provided benefits from a professional and personal perspective, but the program has exceeded my expectations in terms of the variety of speakers encountered, field trips experienced, sharing personal stories and the depth of skills/knowledge drawn from the broader issues experienced by the Greater Shepparton area. In particular I have enjoyed sessions focusing on particular aspects of regional activity that I had limited knowledge and skills in, such as “The Power of Art” and “Business and Tourism Development”. One particular seminar that resonated with me was the “Cultural Diversity” seminar. This seminar underpinned the importance of cultural integration, selflessness and learning to ‘love one another’. Through the syndicate groups and the cohort as a whole, I have truly benefitted from collaborating and learning from like-minded individuals, who are extremely passionate about not only the community but their desired career pathways. I am anticipating further personal and professional growth through continuation of the Fairley Leadership program and acquired learning’s and skills that will stay with me for life.
In terms of the impact and benefits of the Fairley Leadership program from an organizational perspective, I have been appointed recently as a permanent Grade 2 Speech Pathology clinician and am currently acting Speech Pathology Manager within my organization. Specific leadership skills that have been refined and embedded into my clinical and managerial practice include improvements in and more exposure to public speaking- in terms of introducing and summarizing speakers key points and through the ‘About Me’ presentation; project management; conflict resolution- negotiating, collaborating, respect for others and working with the media. My leadership style has changed somewhat in terms of moving from a leader that expects and models excellence and self-direction to more of a coaching leader whom focuses on developing people for the future. This style has allowed my work colleagues to build lasting personal strengths making them successful overall, however it can be challenging with older employees who are resistant to change. I feel that all of these learnings have had a significant impact on my employer, for the better of the organization.
During my time as a participant in the program, I have been successful in obtaining a permanent senior position and appointed as acting Speech Pathology Manager within Goulburn Valley Health, working with community members to manage their communication and swallowing impairments. I have been actively involved in supporting Kialla West Primary school in regards to charity events and working bee events. I have since applied to be a member of the Emerging Leaders Clinical Advisory Committee and am currently an active member of the National Standards 5, 6 and 12 committees at Goulburn Valley Health, to ensure that healthcare is delivered safely and effectively. Likewise, our Fairley cohort is currently completing a community project to engage youth with the environment and the arts in the form of delivering and rolling out a ‘Saving the Brolgas’ children’s book, as part of the Bug Blitz grant.
Throughout the Fairley Leadership journey, I can now see volunteer opportunities unfolding within the Rotary sector to provide community service both locally and internationally and actively being involved in being party of any community projects that are sustainable and bring about change for the better within Greater Shepparton. These are all similar to my previous volunteer aspirations; however I feel that I now have developed/strengthened networks in these areas and a sense of how to work towards actively being involved in these areas and the role that I may take as a community leader.
In terms of personal development, the Fairley Leadership year thus far has certainly provided me with the awareness of my own leadership skills and has provided me with the skills and knowledge to take the next step in terms of my career and personal growth. The program has been empowering in terms of maintaining a lifelong commitment to community leadership and has provided me with an array of networks and contacts of which do so.
In conclusion, I would like to show thanks to not only the Goulburn Murray Community Leadership Inc. and Goulburn Valley Health for providing me with the opportunity to be a participant in the Fairley Leadership Program in 2016, however most importantly to the Williamson Foundation for financially supporting me in my leadership journey thus far. Without the support to participate in the Fairley Leadership program, I would not have been able to have a better understanding of all aspects of the Greater Shepparton’s regional activities, work together with fantastic leaders to positively influence change and work towards being a ‘catalyst for that positive change in the Goulburn Murray Community’- and for that I am ever so grateful.
Goulburn Murray Community Leadership is now taking applications for the 2017 Fairley Leadership Program.