Indigenous Leadership Network Victoria (ILNV)

Helen Kennedy

In 2010, Helen Kennedy was one of five individuals supported by an Office of the Community Sector scholarship to participate in Igniting Leadership, LV’s program for emerging leaders. She came to the program facing considerable leadership-related challenges in her own professional role managing the Family Counseling Service of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS). Helen supervises approximately 30 staff, and 10 different programs, in an area of VAHS that focuses on acute mental health. Not only was she the sixth manager in her position in a three-year period, but also her role was complicated by a rapid expansion of services, new resources and increased expectations.

Helen hoped that Igniting Leadership would help her in the areas of change management, leadership style and tackling challenges in staff relations – and it did. Having now completed the program, she described it as practical and concrete, with a theoretical base, and “very relevant, in terms of where I’m at especially.” Igniting Leadership provided her with frameworks with which to build her leadership practice; frameworks that offered her direction and boosted her confidence.

She said as well as being inspired by “fantastic” speakers, she benefited from sharing leadership-related challenges in a safe environment with emerging leaders from across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Upon completion of the program, Helen returned to VAHS armed with new resources and insights, many of these practical and tangible. Through the program, she acquired written materials that she felt she would refer back to throughout her career. She was also quick to share various leadership-related strategies from the program with her broader management team – strategies that VAHS have gone on to adopt as an organisation.

As well as providing VAHS with immediate benefits, Igniting Leadership has inspired Helen to start something bigger – working with LV to foster emerging leaders in the Indigenous community.