Leadership Victoria’s COVID-19 Update

We’d like to update you on the changes Leadership Victoria is putting in place to help keep our participants, clients, staff and broader community safe as we face COVID-19.

While we are all dealing with the immediate disruption at the moment, LV is positive about the future. We will get through this as a community and we will learn more about our leadership and what we are capable of.

Like all Australians, we are closely monitoring the unfolding impacts of COVID-19 and are following advice and government directions as they evolve so that we do all we can to keep our community safe.

We are all having to adapt to a rapidly changing situation, and in order to protect the health and safety of our community, LV is changing its program delivery model to minimise face to face interactions over the next three months until 30 June 2020. With the situation evolving rapidly, please be assured that we will keep you updated of any changes.

This as an opportunity for us all to develop and refine the leadership skills required to meet very real life challenge of leading virtual, dispersed teams!

Programs currently in progress: face to face facilitation and events will be suspended until 30 June 2020 at least, to comply with government guidelines and to keep us all safe. We are working closely with our clients to ensure continued delivery of our leadership development programs through a combination of the following:

  • Rescheduling experiential components to a later date
  • Delivering programs in a virtual format over the next three months at least, and possibly longer depending on advice and how the situation evolves.

The Williamson Leadership Program is continuing in a virtual format until at least 30 June 2020 with experiential components being rescheduled to the latter half of this year. All participants have been provided details of the revised arrangements. Last Friday we were delighted to successfully deliver the belonging theme day virtually to the 2020 Williamson cohort where we heard from an array of wonderful guest speakers. Thank you everyone for your flexibility, pulling together and showing the strength of our connectivity.

Open enrolment programs: We are working to enable virtual delivery of our open enrolment programs scheduled to take place in April, May and June. We are aiming, as far as possible, to retain the scheduled dates and will notify all registered participants in the following programs, should this change:

  • LeaderEvolution Series 1 scheduled dates 28 April – 5 May 2020
  • Developing Self, Leading Others Series 1 scheduled dates 4 May – 17 June
  • Igniting Leadership Program Series 1 scheduled dates 7 May – 4 June 2020

Please note these programs, and the programs scheduled for later in the year, remain open for expressions of interest and we will continue to provide updates on scheduling and delivery format as the situation progresses. To enquire about LV programs, contact info@leadershipvictoria.org

LV team operating virtually:  Team members will continue to be available via their individual email and mobile phone numbers, and for teleconference meetings.

Looking towards the future: We intend to keep the conversation going with you – especially as we face new challenges of social distancing and working in different ways. This is a time to support each other and to truly lead anytime and anywhere. We will keep in touch with you via our social media channels, newsletter and website.

Williamson Welcome Immersive

The LV team put together this storytelling piece from the 2020 Williamson Welcome Immersive. Following this, the 2020 Williamson peer groups will take over the storytelling duties and we will be sharing these reflections from the program from time to time over the year. This storytelling piece is accompanied by a Spotify playlist – a ha moments from Williamson 2020. 


“Belonging is an integral part of life,” says Taungurung man and LV alumnus, Anthony Cavanagh (WCLP’15) as the group stands in a wide circle with the land beneath our feet and the cockatoos screeching their own welcome from the majestic gums above.

You are at this moment on the cusp of belonging to something new.

Something that, as Anthony tells us, is not just for the next 12 months, it is for the rest of your life.

Welcome indeed.

How does belonging happen? It starts like this.

A generous welcome that helps us all belong to the ancient land and the cultures that have shaped it.

A pair of socks – you will see a few of these – that symbolise your new belonging. Continuing (alumni, the Leadership Victoria community) and new (you lot) joined by a small gift, a symbol of all the things that will come to link you.

Let me introduce myself. I’m your narrator for this first part of the journey. Unreliable. Biased. Selective. Not of you, but observing you. None of you will have the benefit of my distance as you undertake this storytelling task over coming months – although you will be expected to climb up to the balcony. I will not have the benefit of your belonging in this special group – although I love a good session on the dancefloor.

Belonging and not belonging. Let’s talk about the monsters that lurk in the room on this first morning. Imposter syndrome. And for some of you perhaps, its opposite. What shall we call it? Ego? Hubris? Privilege?

Or maybe it is one of these monsters masking itself as another. Or a mix of both. We are complex beasts, us and our monsters.

Let’s call them and then let them go – for now.

You are here. You are here through an honest, fair (well, as fair as our world is) and trustworthy process. So you deserve to be here. So does everyone around you.

Think back to that question in your interview – why you when someone else will miss out? I could add, when some people in our world, our communities, will never even be in a position to take control of their own lives, let alone lead others.

Use that.

Use it to make the most of this opportunity. You are not here just for you. Leadership, by its very nature is about yourself and others.

So step up and in. Make the space for this in your life. Really live every moment of it. You will never have this again. Most people will never have it.

But don’t waste time thinking you are the odd one out in exalted company. Or, alternatively, that you are the exalted one in odd company.

You are here. So really, be here.

Maybe this expectation of presence is not what you were expecting. Even when the people who had come before you down this path shook their heads and with that mix of pride, ruefulness and knowing said, ‘You should do this. But it’ll be hard. It will test you.’

What might you need to give up, for a time, to be truly present? How might you need to recalibrate – the way you see the world, the way you move in it, the assumptions you make, how you use your time and the value you place on it?

What might you give up, set aside … but what richness will you gain?

So much to take in on these first few days. So many points where presence is required, already, that the head spins and aches with it all.

But let me settle on one point: Questions. Specifically, the questions you ask of the people who give their time and that little part of themselves that is their story.

What are they, these questions? A way to extract information. Sure. But so much more – they can be vehicles of your curiosity, your imagination, your empathy, your anger, your desire for change. Your learning.

Williamson is such a big program, all those days, all those trips and experiences and speakers … and yet, already here we are on Day One and it feels like there isn’t enough time.

It’s fleeting. And all of a sudden, that person who could hold the key to a revelation that could change you, change your world, is heading for the door, a pair of socks in hand.

So your presence is not just a sort of mindfulness on the day. It is practical and preparatory and reflective. It is before and after. I’m talking about research and pondering and careful, thoughtful selection.

These questions, they are about you as much as they are about the one being questioned and the wider world.

So here on Day One, as an example, some of you have before you a journalist who:

(a) asks questions for a living – hmm, might have some insights for your own question posing, especially as a Williamson alumnus.

(b) has lived through (is living through) the most massive disruption to public engagement with news and information in at least a hundred years – gosh I wonder what he sees as the future of media; I wonder how that transformation has affected him and his colleagues – what does his experience tell us about people and change?

(c) specialises in business and finance – gee, he’d have some insights into changes in corporate culture and leadership and the state of the economy and why, despite things like the banking royal commission, corporate leaders seem to be showing more direction on big issues than politicians.

But you only have – what, half an hour to ask questions? And there’s 30 of you. So it means team work and compromise too. Choice. Decision. Depth or breadth. What is the best use of our limited time and access?

This is starting to look a lot like leadership.

What do you really want to know from and about this person? Don’t waste your, their and everyone else’s time by not knowing about them beforehand; their experiences, what they might have said in the past, what they can speak knowledgeably about.

Don’t refrain from asking them the burning questions. Don’t be ignorant of what those questions might be.

And don’t take what they say at face value – respectfully, but still, with purpose and a curious mind. I was upfront with you, back up there at the start. I told you I was a biased and unreliable narrator. Everyone is of their own story. But most won’t tell you – or to be fair, they don’t realise it.

Real insights are rarely handed to us on a platter. We must earn them. Deserve them. Ponder them awhile.

Remember. You are here and so many others are not. Belonging is a privilege and a commitment.

Be thoughtful. Be present. Belong.

Welcome to Williamson.

2019 Graduation and Celebration Dinner

On Wednesday 20 November, we held the 2019 Graduation at State Library Victoria to celebrate Williamson and Folio graduates alongside their partners and supporters, and the wider LV team. Elaine Montegriffo, LV CEO and Chris Kotur, LV Leader in Residence, opened the event by extending their congratulations to the 2019 cohort and reflecting on the year that was.

In the evening we held the Leadership Victoria 2019 Celebration December at Zinc, Federation Square. Our 2019 Williamson and Folio Community Leadership Program Graduates came together with friends, family, LV partners and supporters in celebration of their completion of the programs. The energy in the room was palpable as our MC Kylie Belling (WCLP’17) led us through the evening of speakers including Keynote speaker Chin Tan (WCLP’98), Race Discrimination Commissioner and Jacinda Richards, 2019 Igniting Leadership Program Scholarship Recipient and L2R Dance Founder followed by the announcement of the 2020 Williamson cohort and 2020 scholarship recipients. Thank you to all those who made it to the event and to those who couldn’t.

To see highlights of the evening, check out this great video.

We’ve put lots of photos on our Facebook page, so feel free to tag yourself and share.

You can also read about our 2019 graduates in our 2019 Yearbook – Leading with Purpose, which is now available on our website.

Interested in taking your leadership to the next level in 2020? Check out our new 2020 Leadership Programs brochure here.


Together we CLAN

Williamson participants, LV alumni and guests showed their “CLAN-do” attitude on Wednesday 30 October at our first ever #togetherweCLAN event which was a huge success. Around 120 people came along to hear the 2019 Williamson Leadership Program CLAN groups pitch their big challenges and offer their unique points of view through a group consultation process.

CLANs – community leadership action networks – are a feature of the Williamson and other LV programs and challenge participants to take a deep dive into complex issues that need smart, purposeful and collaborative leadership to address.

Popular pitches on the night asked ‘how might we …’ address issues including women’s financial disadvantage, Indigenous recognition, consumption and waste, trauma and access to housing. The room was abuzz with lively conversation as the audience joined the consultation process to explore the underlying challenges of these issues.

For LV alumni and friends, and anyone interested in sharing discussion on society’s big challenges, keep an eye out for our next CLAN event which will be taking place in March 2020…Watch this space!

2019 Greater Dandenong Young and Emerging Community Leaders Program Set to Have Positive Impact on the Community

If anyone else wanted to do this course, I’d say ‘just go for it’. Don’t hold back. You’ll meet a lot of great people, it’s a safe environment and you’ll make friends for life. If you’re not sure, just ask people who’ve been involved, it’s really great!”

This is Mehri Vijdani speaking of the 2019 Greater Dandenong Young and Emerging Community Leaders Program. Mehri pushed herself “out of her comfort zone” to undertake the program.

“I’m a bit shy. I want to work on my public speaking. I’m a bit nervous speaking in front of a crowd. The course has helped me talk directly…”

Mehri, a 24-year-old university student, is a community volunteer with an Iranian and Pakistani background. She’s studying psychology, family studies and health promotion at university, and is particularly interested in domestic violence. She’s the English speaker in her household and has overcome bullying and racism to become a community youth leader. The skills she hones in the program are immediately put to use. Daunted community members come to Mehri with everything from employment to parking tickets. Mehri, all about breaking stereotypes, is enjoying working with young police officers during the course. One day, she hopes to join the police force.

So is Sudanese community leader Khalid Katikang. Which is not surprising, because the youth worker is keen to become a policeman himself.

“It’s one part of why I joined the program. I’ll be asking the young officers about how to join. You get a good view of what it’s like to work for the police. I’d like to work as a liaison officer. Victoria Police is growing, and it needs a diverse group of people.”

Khalid has lived in the Greater Dandenong area for 13 years. He won a community award in 2016 after years engaging at-risk young people in after-school programs and sport. He was a key participant in a state government-funded Say No To Crime campaign. The Program is directly relevant for him.

“I hope to learn skills to take back to my community and up-skill other people and teach them what I learnt. Dandenong is potentially a very successful area. It’s a very diverse area with a lot of needs. I want to empower young people and be a voice for them.”

Rohingya refugee Amina Khatun received an Outstanding Service to the Community citation at the annual Refugee and Asylum Seeker Recognition Awards, hosted by Friends of Refugees.

The Morwell mother-of-two is also keen to join the police force.

“I’d like to become a police officer at some stage and work in family violence in the Muslim community helping women who are not comfortable talking with police.”

This ambition arose from Amina’s work as an interpreter and translator in her community. She has been the voice of her people as an advocate for women too frightened to speak out and the link between refugees and vital support services.

“There’s not much awareness of support services, there’s not much connection with them. I’ve talked to lots of organisations and I have an awareness of family violence, so I can help give the women with abusive husbands the self-confidence to seek help.”

Amina is excited by the opportunity to “educate” young police officers about what young migrants face. She’s been encouraged by the very friendly police she’s met in the course.

Amina’s activism lends urgency to her desire to build her leadership skills. “The main thing is knowing more so I can help someone. With these skills, you can save someone’s life.”

Program participant Ajulo Omot does volunteer work with South Sudanese people in Greater Dandenong.

“The main challenge I face educating my community is getting the attention of community members to the problem I want to address.”

Convening an information session about sexual assault, she had to be crafty.

“It was very difficult for us to promote the program exactly as what is was… Instead we promoted it as about women’s health because we knew if we said what the program was about people may not have attended.”

Confronting this taboo subject has been Ajulo’s greatest leadership test and triumph. “I’ve had the greatest impact as a leader I think by being able to talk about the issue of sexual violence openly and to involve the community on the discussion.”

Ajulo is another participant looking to hone her public speaking skills.

“I hope to gain the skill of good and confident public speaking. I was invited to participate in the leadership program because someone thought that I have the potential and characteristics of a leader and I also think the same, so I accepted the offer.” She wants to see police, young or old trained to consider the “big picture” of a situation or issue. She finds the involvement of young police officers important “so that maybe the young police might relate to us young people and have a bit more understanding of our issues.”


About Greater Dandenong Young and Emerging Community Leaders Program

The Greater Dandenong Young and Emerging Community Leaders Program develops young people from diverse cultural backgrounds and young police officers with a passion for community leadership who want to work together to make a difference in the local community. The program is a rich development experience that builds participant’s leadership capabilities and communication engagement skills to identify and seek solutions to community safety issues for young people. This will have long-lasting benefits for participants and strengthen social cohesion within the local community.

Leadership Victoria – A Certified Social Enterprise

Leadership Victoria is proud to announce we have recently achieved Social Traders Re-Certification, joining a community of Australian businesses that are driven by a social purpose.

Social Traders exists to create jobs for disadvantaged Australians by linking business and government buyers with social enterprises.

Social Traders certification confirms a social enterprise has been verified by Social Traders and meets the definition of a social enterprise in that it:

  • has a defined primary social purpose, environmental or other public benefit
  • derives a substantial portion of its income from trade
  • and reinvests 50% or more of annual profits towards achieving the social purpose

Leadership Victoria is an innovative, independent social enterprise. Our vision is for a better world, where everyone is able to exercise purposeful leadership and contribute to an inclusive and sustainable future. We exist to inspire, connect and mobilise exceptional leaders, and our rich transformative learning experiences enable people to find their leadership purpose.

For 30 years, we have been connecting and empowering leaders across business, government and community sectors, enabling them to exercise the leadership required to address today’s complex challenges and contribute to positive economic, social and environmental outcomes. We purposefully connect leaders with diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives to enable fresh thinking on complex challenges. We facilitate powerful networks that endure beyond our programs, enabling leaders to amplify their leadership impact in their organisations, sectors and communities. We focus on purpose, ethics and values, developing adaptive leaders who are inquisitive and reflective. Leaders who want to make a difference and have the skills and mindset to do so.

Our social impact is further strengthened through the LV Foundation. The Foundation develops community leaders through scholarship programs, supports transformational community projects, and harnesses an extensive network of LV Alumni and partners to tackle issues of disadvantage. LV Foundation scholarships enable people from underrepresented communities to participate in Leadership Victoria’s programs, developing leadership capability across Victoria’s richly diverse communities.

Our goal in joining the Social Traders network is to connect with like-minded organisations, share best practice, opportunities, and challenges with other social enterprise leaders, and use the power of the social enterprise marketplace to solve the most pressing societal problems.

We look forward to the rewards this membership will bring, and the ways we can work with a community of organisations who share our values to achieve a wonderful outcome for all involved.

Visit the Social Traders website to read more about their fantastic work.

Leadership and The Big Idea

Inequality and exclusion costs Australia more than $45 billion a year and an alliance brought together by an LV alumna is doing something about it.

On 31 July, 2019 Williamson and Folio Leadership Program participants joined LV Alumni and guests to explore the Inclusive Australia story. The conversation was hosted by Andrea Pearman (WCLP’05), General Manager, Community and Philatelic, Australia Post, Justin Homer, Partner, PwC, and moderated by Mark Fuller (WCLP’12), Deputy Editor (Print) and Editor, The Saturday Age. The event was a great opportunity for Williamson and Folio participants to explore the role of leadership in social change, ask some challenging questions and network with the LV community.

Inclusive Australia is an alliance of passionate organisations and individuals working together to drive social inclusion and influence change. Their purpose is to improve societal attitudes and behaviours towards people from different backgrounds, perspectives and circumstances. Andrea spoke of the research Inclusive Australia has compiled over the past two years and their plan to launch a public awareness and activation campaign. They aim to reawaken audiences, normalise inclusive behaviour, spark respectful discussion into the issue of social inclusion and create an Australia where everyone does get a ‘fair go’. Inclusive Australia hopes to achieve long-term behavioural change that will decrease the social and economic cost of exclusion and allow our nation to thrive.

Message from the LV Board

The LV Board wishes to advise LV alumni of some recent Board and Executive changes at LV.

Amanda Brook has been appointed as Chair of Leadership Victoria following the planned retirement of Geoff Cosgriff (WCLP’90) as Chair of Leadership Victoria (LV) and as a Director of the Leadership Victoria Foundation.

The Board and staff of LV wish to acknowledge and thank Geoff for his significant contribution to our organisation over the past 19 years and wish him well in his future.

Amanda has had a diverse executive career with leadership roles in the Services, Technology, Retail and Education sectors. Amanda has been a Board member of Leadership Victoria for the past 18 months.  She is also a Director of the Box Hill Institute and CAE, Director of The Victorian TAFE Association and an owner and Director of Abbeys Auctions and Classic Moves.

After seven years leading significant growth and transformation as LV’s CEO, Richard Dent (WCLP’04) has also advised of his intention to resign his role in early July. The LV Board and staff acknowledge and thank Richard for his contribution.

Richard will be working with Amanda and the team in the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition.

LV looks forward to continuing to build on our proud 30-year history of fostering leadership and progress for all Victorians.

The LV Board


1999 Williamson Cohort 20th Anniversary Celebrations, Joan Hegedus (WCLP’99)

The Williamson Community Leadership Program 1999 alumni are celebrating the 20th anniversary of our program year, with two reunion gatherings held so far and more planned.  The reunions have allowed us to revisit and rekindle the memories of our program year and to discuss its ongoing influence.

In February, 1999, the 32 new program inductees headed to the opening retreat at Marysville to discuss the issues to be addressed over the coming year.  Some of our major concerns included the environment, social justice, the future of the working environment, the economy, science and technology and Australia’s role in the world.

Our chosen topics often found their way regularly into the headlines of the day during that year.  We witnessed East Timor gain independence, the unsuccessful attempt via a referendum for both Australia to become a republic and the inclusion of a preamble in the Constitution to recognise Aboriginals as Australia’s first people.  The GST bill was passed in the Upper House in Canberra for introduction 12 months later. Telstra shares reached a high of $7.60, billions of dollars were spent in preparation for Y2K and Albert Einstein was named Time magazine’s Person of the Century.

At this year’s catch ups, we looked back at the year and then discussed the impact of some of the major events that have affected us both professionally and personally since and how we managed the consequences.  At each of the events we had a key note speaker from within the group.  From Bunty Avieson, editor of New Idea in 1999, and then Mary Waldron, a partner at Arthur Anderson that year, we heard of their challenges and accomplishments including 3 successful career changes for Bunty and Mary’s journey to her current role as PricewaterhouseCooper’s Global Chief Risk Officer.

Then, in true Williamson style, everybody had a timed opportunity to share many extraordinary experiences since our graduation. Whilst everyone had some very positive news either in a professional or personal sense, it was the challenges or how they were handled that had us sitting on the edge of our seats.

The difficult professional situations included dealing with redundancy – both as the recipient and the initiator, having the courage to review and adapt core business practices to deal with the ever-increasing speed of change and keeping abreast of new technologies – all whilst attempting to maintain a healthy work/life balance.

The key strengths that most of us embraced that seemed to be constant in many of these situations were resilience, an ability to seek guidance, and maintaining courage in our convictions once they were established. Interestingly, all these attributes were continually exhibited by speakers in our 1999 program year including Greg Bourne, then MD of BP Australia, Michael Carr-Gregg, Rob Hunt, then GM Bendigo Bank, Janet Holmes a Court, and Doug Shears, Executive Chairman ICM Australia.

The flame that led us to apply to be part of the Williamson program all those years ago still burns brightly.  Many of the group continue to lend their skills to not-for-profit organisation.  Pro bono work remains an accepted responsibility.

On the lighter side, the group were invited to provide a significant photo of an event in their life since 1999.  The photos were displayed at both events.  Tony Bartlett sent a photo of him meeting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony to launch the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, which fosters collaboration on forest restoration and collaboration, for supporting an Australian forestry project in Papua New Guinea.  David Ali provided one with him meeting HRH the Princess Royal, Princess Anne at a function in Glasgow in his role as a Director of the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations.  The rest of us were content to provide images with the likes of Nic Cave, Julia Gillard, Linda Dessau and Martin Sheen, with one of the group (who wishes to remain anonymous) producing a pic with Donald Trump.

Overall, the coming together in the group’s 20th anniversary year has been a wonderfully uplifting experience.  The opportunity to revive and relive the camaraderie and trust developed long ago has been appreciated by everyone who attended and contributed. As a group we will be forever grateful for initially the foresight and generosity of Hugh Williamson and subsequently the contribution of the Leadership Victoria team.  Their efforts have provided us with the guidance to make a positive impact through the leadership roles we have embraced in both our professional lives and within our communities.

Leadership and International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day particularly shines the spotlight on the need for leadership on gender equity. And Leadership Victoria proudly works in partnership with a range of organisations to support and deliver initiatives to raise the profile of gender equity; and to develop leadership capability to tackle gender issues.

Since International Women’s Day this time last year, hundreds of people have attended events we’ve run in partnership with Not In My Workplace and The 100Percent Project.

We’ve run the LV Women’s Leadership Program, and provided scholarships to enable multiple women from diverse backgrounds and life circumstances to participate.

We’ve partnered with the Islamic Council of Victoria in the Muslim Women’s Leadership Initiative, developing and empowering Muslim women to exercise leadership in their organisations and the community.  We’ve delivered leadership and governance programs to young and emerging women leaders from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds; and matched many of them with senior women leaders as  mentors from the LV network to help build their networks, role models and leadership capability to advance gender equity.

Building on the earlier work of Ruth McGowan and others, we’ve supported the Honour a Woman initiative and the Recognition Matters campaign which aim to increase gender equity in the Australian Honours.  A number of women LV alumni have been recognised in the Australian Honours List, including Bronwyn King AO and Stephanie Woollard OAM, and a number of LV alumni have been recognised as extraordinary women leaders and role models in the Victorian Women’s Honour Roll.

In addition, the majority of participants in LV’s senior flagship programs (the Williamson and Folio Community Leadership Programs) are women: a trend which has continued for many years and which – along with many other LV activities – is helping shape leadership by women in the world.

IWD 2019 is a time to both celebrate the progress that has been made on gender equity, while continuing to acknowledge that so much more needs to be done.

Let’s keep working hard together to show leadership and build a gender-balanced world. #BalanceforBetter

Leadership Victoria