19-21 February 2014
I had a fantastic time in Wellington with eleven inspiring, friendly and hard working Rural Women.
Nicola and I arrived at the same time, so while sharing a taxi, we began bonding and over lunch you would have thought we were life long friends! That’s how it felt with all the women, we all had very different lives, but something in common, a passion for our community, Rural Women, and learning and enhancing our leadership skills.
We had a very inspiring and focused workshop with Lindy Nelson, founder of Agri-Women’s Development Trust. She is passionate about the strengths and skills of women within agriculture and the role they play in businesses and community. The group had pre-work to do, and presenting this, at this stage of the course, gave insight, encouragement and had everyone thinking about leadership. Why it is important to us, and how we already do a great deal within our lives professionally and personally. With her many pointers we learnt ways to strengthen and hone our skills..
Vanisa Dhiru, is the CoE of Volunteering New Zealand. When we surround ourselves with like minded people great things can be achieved, as long as everyone is happy working for the common goal, unpaid, on their own free will. This was the message I took home, and thought about HOW I will ensure everyone is happy with the organisations I lead or am part of. There are many organisations already established and groups need to remember the don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just utilise what already is established.
This was a message also highlighted when David Farrar, Kiwiblog founder spoke, on social media. There is so much information at our finger tips 24/7, it is about accessing and networking it to a positive and constructive manner..
Rural Women backed “It’s not ok campaign” and the speakers from Family Violence, spoke about the letterbox stickers and how important it is to get this safety message out into the rural sector. It is a simple and safe way to inform many people who may be quietly suffering, as violence occurs in many horrid forms in our communities.
Access Homehealth, (owned by Rural Women) General Manager, David Chrisp spoke of the challenges this company faces, and how it will serve the rural community in an ageing population.
The group also spoke with the leaders of Rural Women, Wendy McGowan, Noeline Holt, Jackie Edkins, and course co-ordination Keira Jacobson, who gave us information in regards to Rural Women, and how it works at national level, procedures and policies, and a direction into the future.
Although a great deal of the course was hosted at the Rural Women office, the group enjoyed time at Parliament, meeting with both the Labour and National Women’s Caucus and having open discussion with both groups on issues which are relevant to many in our rural communities.
It was an eye-opener to watch a sitting of Parliament and how educated leaders participate in these sessions!
With all these inspiring leaders talking to us, lead us to taking a step up, and we presented Landcorp, a major sponsor for the three day course, with a power-point presentation which the group produced. The main focus of this was Mental Wellbeing, all members spoke during the presentation, and many points were noted by Landcorp’s executives. It was a very inspiring and empowering way to conclude the course.
The women have all gone back into their communities, and we have had many updates of how we are moving our leadership forward.
Since my return, I have lead a self review as Chairperson of Hampden School and as a result, changes are now in discussion and the school charter is under review. I feel more confident when I have to deal with issues, and can separate the person from the profession more. This is sometimes hard when there is a small number of volunteers, and often I am socially involved with these people as well.
While at the North Otago A&P show, manning the Rural Women site I networked with local Policemen and the Safer Community Officer form Oamaru. I have requested for more “It is ok to ask for help stickers”, so the local police can also issue them out.
I have been asked to speak to a neighbouring School BOT, about leadership and governing at grass root level and can hopefully produce a PowerPoint presentation of relevant information to help this BOT govern positively.
I am very grateful to the sponsors Landcorp, Agri-Women’s Development Trust and Rural Women New Zealand for the insight, strength, friendship and knowledge I gained while attending this course.