Valedictorian Speech: Folio 2016

28 November 2016 By Natasha Toohey (FCLP 2016), Western Health

Valedictorian Speech: Folio Community Leadership Program 2016
Natasha Toohey (FCLP 2016)                                      

"The Folio Community Leadership Program (FCLP) is described as a ‘deep dive’ experience into all aspects of self-awareness and community leadership. To give you some insight as to what it is like to be a FCLP participant, I have been reflecting on what was the key defining moment in the program for me.

Was it Day 1 of the opening retreat when Richard did a spot quiz of world leaders and I sat there paralysed with fear, terrified that he would flash up a picture and I would have no idea who it was?

Was it Day 2 when we were asked to reflect on our childhood and life experience to date and I was left feeling that someone had come along with a stick of dynamite and all of those ordered boxes of ‘stuff’ that I had nicely packed away within my subconscious had been blown to smithereens and was now very much part of my conscious being?

Was it at our first content day which was focussed on leadership for economic prosperity, when we were all struck that our financial content experts, without any prompting from the group, discussed how inextricably linked were the big issues of climate change and social wellbeing to economics?

Was it the confronting reality of meeting three individuals at the Harvester Centre who were struggling with housing and asking them where they thought  they would be in 5 years’ time, only to be told they didn’t even know where they were going to sleep tonight, and yet we were asking them about 5 years’ time?

Was it meeting with a talented young musician at Multicultural Arts Victoria who sang us a rap song with the haunting lyrics, ‘when I was eight years old, gun on my shoulder, blood at my feet, I didn’t like it but I had no choice’?

Was it having dinner with a group of men at Carrical House, hearing the story of an articulate young man who had attending one of Melbourne’s most elite private schools, who stated, ‘I had no intention of living in a men’s shelter when I grew up, that was not part of my plan, but mental health doesn’t discriminate according to what school you go to’?

Was it the opportunity to work with my peers and explore an issue that was deep to our heart- children in out of home care? To meet with content experts and passionate advocates within the community who were so incredibly generous with their time. Senior individuals- CEOs of peak bodies, Magistrates, Commissioners and learn that you only need to ask; when people are committed to an issue they are incredibly generous.

Or was it hearing the “True Norths”?  The stories that each of us shared about who we are and where we have come from. The stories about the critical life events that have shaped us, that were recounted with such openness and raw emotion that more often than not brought the room to tears.

There was no one defining moment for FCLP 2016, it was a continuous life changing journey and for this, I want to say thank you. Thank you to Leadership Victoria for developing such a remarkable program.  Thank you to our employers who have so generously supported us on this journey. Thank you to our families, friends and extended networks who have supported our absence, but have also listened when we have arrived home, crazed glint in the eye, recounting with fervour our experiences throughout the seven months.  Finally I want to thank my peers- you are the people who have truly made this program the life changing one it was for each of us. Not only are you peers, you are friends; friends who share a passion to make a difference; friends who will make a difference to the world in which we live.

Thank you."

Natasha Toohey (FCLP 2016)
Divisional Director Subacute and Aged Care
Western Health