19 January 2018 By Richard Dent OAM, CEO, Leadership Victoria

Catherine Walsh’s well-intentioned article in The Age (5/1) asked Australians to volunteer less. She gave sausage-sizzle examples and trots out the old saw that volunteering undercuts paid work.

Tell that to the volunteers who lead ICAN, the Australian organisation which has just won a Nobel Peace Prize for nuclear disarmament. Tell that to Dr Bronwyn King – the oncologist who voluntarily leads Tobacco Free Investments and has shaped a $6B industry shift. Tell that to the thousands of highly skilled professionals who lead countless boards of NFP organisations of all sizes and focuses.

Tell it to the thousands of mentors who share their wisdom and lived experience with younger Australians, recently arrived Australians, and under-resourced Australians. Tell it to the CFA. In fact, tell it to political party members!

Volunteers are central to Australian life.

But in one aspect though, Walsh is largely right: volunteering is undervalued. That’s because volunteering has a brand problem: in fact the very brand problem that Walsh’s own argument embodies. Volunteering is seen as narrow, local, and largely unskilled. That was probably false even in the 20th or previous centuries, but unfortunately it’s still a broadly held misperception. It’s a misperception that leads us to watch more Netflix and to forego voluntary civic engagement.

The truth is that contributions of volunteers are absolutely essential to our national identity and our national progress. And in future, volunteering will become even more important: as global wealth and productivity rises, Australians will have more opportunity to voluntarily lead progress in their fields of passion and expertise. This increase in activity will lead to strengthened social capital, increased innovation, increased health and wellbeing, and a better nation and world.

What we need is a national discussion on 21st century volunteering: we need Governments who recognise the highly leveraged investment which volunteers can comprise, we need a national strategy to unlock the amazing potential hidden in our communities, we need businesses and nonprofits who are thinking strategically about their connection to corporate and community purpose.

I accept the notion that perhaps sausage sizzles are economically inefficient: so volunteer less at them if you wish. But think carefully about your own contribution: be a leader and use your skills to do something good for someone. No matter how good your sausage-sizzle skills are, remember that Winston Churchill was an excellent bricklayer. If he’d spent the 1940’s bricklaying, history could be very different.

Government, business and community members need to support community contribution more strategically: civic engagement through volunteering is essential and will make Australia and the world a better place.

We shouldn’t should be doing less volunteering, we should be doing more and better.


Read Full Article

19 January 2018 By Richard Dent OAM, CEO, Leadership Victoria

Peter Dutton’s recent comments about a “gang problem” with “Africans” in Melbourne are very unhelpful to the demographic he’s targeting and to Victoria as a whole. Scapegoating a group is not unusual leadership (think Trump and the Mexicans), but it’s also not good leadership.

Perhaps he’s backpedalled somewhat in his subsequent comments, highlighting – completely appropriately – that a tiny minority of young men in a few locations do not represent an entire demographic. But nevertheless his statements are causing very public damage, allowing racists in the community to latch on to his comments to scapegoat an identifiable group, and causing fear and concern in that population and in Victoria more broadly.

But – perhaps perversely – his comments have helped good leadership emerge.

Leadership Victoria is proud of working with African-focused organisations such as the African Think Tank for almost a decade, and many members of the African Australian community have been actively building their leadership capability for years.

One of LV’s key messages is that “anyone can exercise leadership, anywhere, anytime”, and that’s exactly what’s been happening.

Over the course of the past week, time and again African Australians have been on the nightly news and in our papers and online (notably in the delightfully ironic #africangangs movement). We are seeing individuals like Haileluel Gebre-selassie, Kot Monoah, Zione Walker-Nthenda and many others with a direct or indirect LV connection exercising community leadership in the best possible sense.

The message of these leaders is clear: they are proud to be part of the diverse tapestry of the Australian community and they are proud to exercise leadership and to contribute to a modern, inclusive, increasingly safe Australia.

Criminal behaviours should not be excused, no matter who they are: people who break the law should be legally apprehended, tried, and if guilty punished and rehabilitated. We should support Victoria Police in both their excellent community liaison work and their crime-fighting work. And we should support every organisation whose purpose is to address issues that lead to criminality as well as those who support victims.

If we want swifter, better progress for Australia, then more Australians (regardless of background, ethnicity, ability, gender or religion) will need to engage in civic processes, exercise community leadership at all levels and work to create a diverse and inclusive Australia.

In Victoria all mainstream political parties support our very successful multiculturalism, and we should celebrate the diversity of everyone who helps create a better world through good leadership. At the upcoming Premier’s Gala Dinner in Cultural Diversity Week, the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition will walk together in excellent symbolism of our state’s shared commitment to diversity and inclusion: we should be proud of their leadership in this.

Negative comments by high-profile people who don’t really understand our Victorian multicultural successes are unhelpful, but with good community leadership excellent positive progress can emerge.

After all, anyone can exercise leadership, anywhere, anytime.


Richard Dent is CEO of Leadership Victoria, an independent nonpartisan nonprofit organisation which fosters leadership for swifter, better progress on complex social, economic and environmental issues.

Read Full Article

20 December 2017 By Folio 2017 alumni

The Folio Community Leadership Program 2017 (FCLP'17) Alumni are raising funds to support a community leader to participate in FCLP 2018.

Through the experience and exposure of Folio, FCLP'17 would like to support the community organisations who so generously allowed immersion into their wonderful work, through creating a scholarship fund.

The scholarship will support one community leader to participate in the 2018 Folio program, covering the program fees, providing the recipient the opportunity to build their networks and enhance their leadership skills. You can help give the gift of learning by donating funds now


Are donations tax deductible?


Will I receive a receipt for my donation?

Yes, as soon as your donation is processed.

Read Full Article

21 November 2017 By

Leadership Victoria is delighted to welcome the following participants to the 2018 Williamson Leadership Program:

Aaron Gay Department of Environment and Water Alys Boase Ermha Ltd Amy McKimm Alfred Health Andreea Georgiana Spoiala-Lagocki Forest and Wood Products Australia Andrew Parsons Department of Premier and Cabinet (Victoria) Anthony Privitelli DuluxGroup (Parchem) Bernadene Voss City of Port Phillip Bernadette Comitti Monash Health Carolyn Nikoloski beyondblue Daniel Stubbs Inner Melbourne Community Legal Danny Childs Environmental Protection Authority Dr Evan Newnham Eastern Health Elias Lebbos Travellers Aid, Australia  Emma Olivier Lochard Energy Gemma Meagher Environment Protection Authority, Victoria Guy Pritchard Sustainability Victoria Heather Walker Cancer Council Victoria Jacqueline Hanna Department of Health and Human Services Jane Young North East Catchment Management Authority Jerome Carslake ARRB Group John Mina SG Group / JBWere Justine Tiller ANZ Bank Kate Broun Cancer Council Victoria Kate Dundas City of Melbourne Laura Thompson Victorian Aboriginal Health Service Laurelle Atkinson Law Library of Victoria Linda Timothy WorkSafe Victoria Lisa Jones Emergency Management Victoria Mariela Diaz Department of Health and Human Services Mark Langhorn Victoria Police  Mary Sayers Victorian Council of Social Service Matthew Low ARUP  Melissa Barnes Medibank Michael Georgiou Ambulance Victoria Mikaela Stafrace Kidney Health Australia Mithra Villanelo KPMG Narelle Capp Ambulance Victoria Nathalie Webb Monash Health Nicholas Gray Goulburn Murray Water Nicole Batagol Non-Executive Director, Various Nicole Brady Department of Health and Human Services Niloo Amendra Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust Peter Peterson Tennis Australia Peter Quigley Westernport Water Phoebe Dunn Amy Gillett Foundation Rajiv Singh Honeywell Robert Considine Melbourne Water Sarah McPherson VMIA Sarah Thomson Goulburn Valley Water Skye Haldane City of Melbourne Stephanie Woollard Seven Women Stewart MacLeod State Trustees Sudeep Saraf Alfred Health Suzy Redston Austin Health Tessa Dehring Nous Group Tom Moloney HESTA Tom Stewart Victorian Funds Management Corporation Vildana Praljak Vision Australia  Wayne Box William Angliss Institute Zeynep Sertel Islamic Council of Victoria
Read Full Article

3 October 2017 By Will Brodie

Richmond’s remarkable 2017 AFL premiership offers a fascinating insight into modern leadership.

This time last year, the Tigers were enduring a shambolic board challenge after a disastrous 13th-placed season, which concluded with several massive losses. They went into 2017 having not won a final in 17 years, and 37 years removed from their previous title. Few predicted they would make the final eight, let alone contend for the premiership.

Richmond’s leaders, President Peggy O’Neal and CEO Brendon Gale, held firm as their positions were challenged. But they were not sitting on their hands. They conducted an extensive review, overhauled the football department, and appointed renowned football manager Neil Balme.

Their steady-as-she-goes approach was a godsend for a large, sometimes volatile club haunted by former instability.

Read Full Article

26 September 2017 By Will Brodie

You are what you read, and the smart leader always seeks inspiration from the best new books. We surveyed which tomes leadership experts recommend and these five publications consistently topped the best reading lists.

Read Full Article

14 September 2017 By Will Brodie

Michael Dowling was recently honoured with an Order of Australia  for “…significant service to the community of Geelong through leadership with a range of social welfare, business and education organisations.”

Modest Michael makes it sound like he was simply in the right place at the right time. On his first day with chartered accountants Day Nielson, in 1976, the Art Gallery of Geelong rang, seeking a replacement secretary.

Michael didn’t know there was a gallery in Geelong. He’d been in town for less than a week. But he became secretary for eight years, then President. 

“People who have a board or organisation who are thinking of setting something up, they need someone with a legal background, someone with a financial background… So often you would get asked ‘can you do this?’.”

Michael answered ‘yes’ more often than not.

Read Full Article

14 September 2017 By Will Brodie

Resilience is a leadership cornerstone as the modern workplace become more volatile.

As author Rosabeth Moss Kanter puts it: “When surprises are the new normal, resilience is the new skill.”

Leadership academic Will Sparks defines resilience as “the ability to respond effectively to disruptive events”.

He's inspired by philosopher, psychoanalyst and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, who said that “choosing our response – our attitude – to any situation is the only true freedom we possess.”.

Here are some ploys experts offer to help foster resilience.

Read Full Article

11 September 2017 By Christopher Lee

After an eventful past few days in the Igniting Leadership Program and ample discussions on the meaning of leadership, we progressed onto Day 4 of the program where we focused on the use emotional intelligence and the impact of “culture” within the workplace. There was a variety of discussion which challenged common preconceptions that our group had, especially on the true meaning of “culture” and how we can demonstrate and improve in our leadership styles.

Read Full Article

10 September 2017 By Anne Mukankusi-Otyek

Leadership without Authority

This last week was our half-way point through the African Leadership Development Program. Today we discussed the theme of leadership without authority, how we affect others and how others have impacted us.

We watched a beautiful YouTube clip on Everyday leadership by Drew Dudley, wherein a small act of kindness gave someone (who was seconds away from quitting) courage to stay at university.

Read Full Article