Taking the lead on challenges in the outback

05 July 2012


Grad2Frontier Services’ Davida Melksham says her participation in the Queensland Leadership Program (QLP) has given her fresh inspiration and new skills to tackle emerging challenges in rural and remote communities.

Davida, who coordinates the Outback Links volunteer program, graduated last night from the highly-regarded program, an initiative of The Benevolent Society’s Social Leadership Australia.

With several retreats, including a rural retreat and monthly program days, the experience has taken Davida all over the state and into some interesting environments including a youth detention centre, Marsden School and a major road works project. They explored issues such as water management in the Murray-Darling Basin and mental health in Mt Isa.

Davida was one of 24 business, government and non-profit leaders selected to take part in the program which this year had its biggest representation from regional participants.

“With such diverse participants seeking direction and skills, the rural participants like me will be able to use those skills as we work with isolated communities that are dealing with challenges such as a skills shortages, a lack of access to services and mental health,” she said.

“If people like us in leadership roles do not continue to seek new skills then communities will continue to struggle with those challenges.”

 Davida she enjoyed the way the program combined theory and academic reading with the development of practical skills which can be applied to all sorts of challenges.

“They were not things that had a technical solution - they were adaptive challenges. It was great to hear from people at the coal face of those situations. I gained new tools just by learning how they went about it, what they did, why they did it and how they measure their success.”

It is Davida's hope that her participation in the course and the connections she has made with other leaders from different sectors will lead to new initiatives in her own community.

“I have discussed the possibilities of working together particularly to make some inroads with young people in the bush and I’m quite confident there will be a spinoff for my community.”

“One of the really exciting things I gained from QLP is that other participants have now become advocates for the work that I do, and I myself have the renewed belief that we need to continue to provide a mantle of safety for the people living in remote Australia.”