Regional Leadership Programs

Victorian Regional Community Leadership Programs

The Victorian Regional Community Leadership Programs (VRCLPs) are designed to assist individuals to develop their leadership capacity and prepare them to transition into leadership roles.

The Gardiner Dairy Foundation provides scholarships for up to 10 emerging dairy leaders (one dairy farmer and one service provider) each year, across the five key dairy regions of Victoria. The scholarships are available for programs offered by the Gippsland Community Leadership Program, Fairley Leadership Program (Goulburn Murray), Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Program, Community Leadership Loddon Murray and Leadership Great South Coast.

This Community Development initiative forms part of the Gardiner Dairy Foundations commitment to investing in emerging leaders and practices. It aims to build the capability of dairy industry people so the industry has the required leadership, knowledge and skills for success.

The Gardiner Dairy Foundation has been supporting VRCLP participants since 2004 and has funded over 60 people across the five programs over that period. Graduates often go on to join community groups or boards in managerial positions, and become involved in strategic planning for their regions. They serve as role models and mentors within their communities and make a substantial contribution to the growth and fabric of the dairy community and their wider regional communities.

Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Program

The Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Program aims to foster the development of a vibrant network of community and business leaders across Northeast Victoria and its border regions; and beyond. Each year Gardiner Dairy Foundation supports two places in the Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Program for regionally based people working on Victorian dairy farms, in dairy processing or as service providers.

AVCLP provides potential and emerging leaders with a unique experiential learning “learning by doing” program that develops the participant’s personal leadership skills, their knowledge of the region and their network of professional and community contacts.

The program is delivered annually with up to 25 participants who live in the Northeast Victoria and border regions and who represent a diverse range of ages, professions, backgrounds and leadership experience are recruited for the program through a competitive selection process.

Participants meet fortnightly at locations across the region, to work with the region’s most outstanding leaders whilst visiting a range of locations of significance to the region. The course also includes three retreats, where the personal leadership skills of the participants are developed and study tours to Melbourne and Canberra, where participants are able to meet State and Federal leaders.

The Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Program covers Northeast Victoria and the New South Wales border regions, comprising the Local Government Areas of Alpine Shire, Albury City, Benalla Rural City, Indigo Shire, Mansfield Shire, Moira Shire, Rural City of Wangaratta, Towong Shire and the City of Wodonga.

View the 2028 AVCLP yearbook.

Applications are now open and will close 11 September.

Fairley (Goulburn Murray) Community Leadership Program

Each year, a selection of the Goulburn Murray region’s most promising leaders become Fellows of the Fairley Leadership Program. They participate in an intensive 11 month program to study key challenges facing the Goulburn Murray region. Gardiner Dairy Foundation supports two places in the Fairley Community Leadership Program for regionally based people working on Victorian dairy farms, in dairy processing or as service providers.

The Fairley Leadership Program offers an unparalleled opportunity for in-depth learning about complex regional issues, and the partnerships and leadership skills needed to address them. Fairley Graduates (Fairley Fellows) make lifelong connections with diverse leaders – connections that help them advance professionally and in community leadership roles.

Over the 11 months of the annual program, participants attend a launch and graduation, two weekend retreats, 15 seminar days, several dinners and study tours to Canberra and Melbourne. Participants are exposed to more than 120 leaders from all sectors including politics, business, industry, sport, not-for-profit and community. In doing so, they explore issues and opportunities for the region and consider leadership styles, attributes, ethics and values.

The seminars are theme-based and include topics such as health, education, water, regional development, Aboriginal issues, small towns, the arts and agriculture. Program activities include field trips, case studies, panel discussions and presentations. Participants are also given some training in competencies such as board governance, public speaking and media skills.

The program primarily covers the Shires of Campaspe, Mitchell, Moira, Murrindindi and Strathbogie, the Rural City of Benalla and Greater Shepparton but has accepted participants from Kerang, Wangaratta, Deniliquin, Tocumwal, Berrigan and Finley.

Applications invite people who want to:

  • improve skills and confidence
  • increase effectiveness to further enrich the community
  • explore the major issues and opportunities for the Goulburn Murray region
  • learn from existing local, State and National Leaders
  • connect with other emerging leaders from the business, government, cultural, community and agricultural sectors.

Applications will be assessed and shortlisted on the following criteria:

  • hold a decision-making role in employment or extensive community experience;
  • have more than five years work or community experience with a still-developing career;
  • demonstrate a strong interest in community affairs and a commitment to the community; and
  • be ready to accept the time commitment and challenges of the program year and ongoing community involvement.

Applications are now open and will close 4 November 2022.

Leadership Great South Coast Program

Leadership Great South Coast (LGSC) provides an annual community leadership program for aspiring and emerging leaders drawn from all sectors of the Great South Coast region. Each year Gardiner Dairy Foundation supports two places in the LGSC Program for regionally based people working on Victorian dairy farms, in dairy processing or as service providers.

The LGSC Program builds relationships and networks between the business, community and government sectors. This allows participants to benefit from a variety of perspectives when considering the nature of leadership and the future of our community and its economic prosperity.


As part of the LGSC Program participants form project teams to complete community projects. All projects have direct benefit to the Great South Coast region and must align to the Great South Coast Strategic Plan priorities.

Please visit here to see past projects.

Selection Criteria:

  • Proven leadership record or aspirations with potential for further growth
  • Potential to contribute significantly to the Great South Coast community
  • Potential to progress to senior positions in industry, business, community organisations, academia or government
  • Ability to commit the required time and energy to the program and to engage as an active learner

Applications are now open and will close 24 October 2022.

Gippsland Community Leadership Program

Each year Gardiner Dairy Foundation offers two places in the Gippsland Community Leadership Program to people living and working in Victorian dairy regions – on dairy farms, in dairy processing, as service providers or in community organisations.

GCLP embraces the diversity of the Gippsland region and its people, reflecting it in the learning spaces the program utilises and the subject matter that contributes to learning. The program is structured to deliver enhanced understanding of the:

  • power and impact of leadership
  • workings of government and political environments and the role of advocacy
  • value of community connections
  • diversity of Gippsland and its challenges and opportunities
  • your qualities as a leader now and the leader you can become

Selection Criteria:

  • Live in Gippsland
  • Willingness to commit to time/travel requirements of the program *
  • Ability to meet the financial commitment
  • Demonstrated evidence of your employers’ support for you to undertake the program
  • Evidence of commitment to community
  • Understanding of the future challenges and opportunities in Gippsland
  • Evidence of leadership achievement and/or demonstrated potential to fulfil leadership roles at the completion of GCLP

Applications are now open and will close 15 October 2022.

Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program

Each year Gardiner Dairy Foundation supports two places in the Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program for regionally based people working on Victorian dairy farms, in dairy processing or as service providers.

LEAD Loddon Murray provides communities with the confidence and knowledge to be clear about what they want to achieve, to find strength within the community and to lead themselves. We understand the tremendous work that community leaders do to build vibrant and sustainable regional communities.  LMCLP prepares people to respond adaptively to their community’s needs by

  • Creating, courageous, capable community leaders.
  • Mobilising effective leaders to be catalysts for positive change in our region.
  • Amplifying the voice of local leaders in decision making process.
  • Teaching leaders how to effectively use influence in advocating for change.
  • Constructing powerful regional networks and providing access to resources to mobilise projects, services and connections, meeting local needs.

The program runs between February and November each year and accepts up to 25 participants annually with the aim of reflecting the diversity of the communities living and working within our region.

Each of the 22 program days is held in a different part of the region, showcasing rural communities, towns and major regional centres, as well as a study tour to Canberra.

LMCLP is designed to assist anyone involved in their local community, industry or region to improve their effectiveness in current roles and/or take on a leadership role. LMCLP:

  • Develops creative, courageous, confident community leaders.
  • Builds on existing personal and community leadership skills.
  • Increases awareness and understanding of regional issues, resources and networks.
  • Establishes a regional ‘leadership network’.
  • Raises awareness of participants understanding of themselves and others in a leadership context.
  • Challenges, inspire and upskill participants to make positive contributions in their community.
  • Learn how to work in uncertainty and to adapt and thrive in rapidly changing environments.
  • Makes positive contributions to community through high impact projects.

Expressions of interest for this program can now be submitted by filling out THIS FORM.

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