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Milparanga Established Leadership Program open for aspiring First Nations leaders to apply

Giovanni Torre -

The upcoming Milparanga Established Leadership Program has called for First Nations leaders "looking to build on their leadership practices and influence positive change" to apply.

Open to those aged 21 years and older, the program is "informed by First Nations knowledge, narratives and culture". Organisers say participants are supported in culturally safe learning environments to "engage, collaborate and develop their leadership".

Designed and delivered by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF), the program will offer development opportunity for 23 First Nations people "committed to leadership in rural, regional and remote Australia".

Over 10 days on Country, participants will engage with the democratic political process in Australia in order to enable progress for First Nations Peoples; learn to lead adaptively to make progress on the opportunities and challenges in rural, regional and remote Australia; explore cultural frameworks and their application in leadership; learn how to strengthen belonging, connection, safety, trust and collective action; establish leadership purpose, vision, network and strategy; and engage in acknowledging cultural wisdom and knowledge and the emerging narratives for First Nations peoples.

Walman Yawuru woman, ARLF Board Director and Milparanga alum Mena Waller said she has witnessed participants graduating from the program with "increased self-awareness, confidence, and a robust network committed to driving change in communities and industry sectors".

As the Queensland Director of Australia's leading child rights organisation, 54 Reasons, she welcomes the "sense of collaboration" among the program's alumni on issues in these areas.

"Milparanga means 'watching over Country and its people' and the program for established leaders derives its methodology from this unique framework, drawing on connection, collaboration and building a formidable network to amplify the impact and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in this country," she said.

ARLF Board Director and Milparanga alum Mena Waller. Image: supplied.

"The Milparanga model is a powerful one, with almost 350 graduates. We are already seeing alumni utilise their experience and networks from the program to have positive influence in their respective spaces.

"Each graduate builds the skills, confidence and mindset to take what they've gained back into their communities and industries to influence change. The impact each person has when linked to a network across rural, regional and remote Australia is unique and powerful."

Fellow Milparanga graduate, Banyjima-Ngarluma man and West Australian Aboriginal Justice Adviser, Henry Lockyer, experienced how the program provides opportunities for First Nations leaders to discuss issues and to workshop methods for deeper change.

"When we're talking about our communities or families or mob, there's almost an expectation to educate people and it creates a huge cultural load. Through Milparanga, none of us had to hold space for that. It was really liberating to be fully immersed and have some safe conversation without fear or worry about being really honest," he said.

"I'd definitely encourage anyone to take the opportunity to prioritise yourself to not only see the benefit for you, but the people around you who also get to grow and benefit from your self investment."

The opportunity to participate in the Milparanga Established Leadership Program through fully funded scholarships is made possible thanks to ongoing support from the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

The 2024 program will run from 22 April to 1 May with applications closing at midnight on January 31. More information and applications are available online.

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