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The Arts – an underappreciated and undeniable commodity


I’ve read and heard the comment “I’m not really into art” quite a bit over the past few months. The commentary stems from a current review of the Warrnambool Art Gallery and its need for an update. What does it mean for the health and prosperity of our community when people seemingly don’t recognise the role art plays?

The contribution of the Arts to local and global economies is undeniable. At our Volunteering and Creativity Program Day Gareth Colliton, a local artist and advocate for the arts, provided a stunning comparison of the relative contribution of art to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), compared to that of sports. Gareth said, “the Arts contribute about 6% of GDP compared to 3% for sport”. Beyond just the financials, art is also a vital point for community reflection and growth, it is the foundation of our culture and shapes our collective identity. The retention of knowledge in song and stories by First Nations people, the iconic western Victorian landscape paintings of Von-Guerard, Streeton and Chevalier and the relatively unknown fact that Australia’s first ever sound recording was captured in Warrnambool, all point to the Great South Coast being no exception as a region defined by art.

Despite some people thinking they are not into in art, the contemporary presence and passion of the Arts in Warrnambool is on full display, through the various laneways and streetscapes around town and in the volunteer run F-Project Arts hub. The Warrnambool Art Gallery (WAG), given the right opportunity, has an impressive collection around which to grow a world class cultural institution. We only need to look at MONA (Hobart) or the Bendigo Art Gallery to see the potential opportunities this offers in terms of tourism. Investment in the Arts also motivates and attracts creative thinkers, the very people we need to keep evolving socially, and economically. The fact that some people think they are not into art makes this necessity even greater.

The program day also offered a unique insight into the workings of the SES with Bernadette Northeast, a chat with Jaimee Millar, a lunchtime chat with Dan Tehan MP, a tour of One Day Studios with Gareth and a tour of the F Project gallery and workspaces with Helen Bunyon. Thank you to all these speakers for sharing your stories and inspiring our civic participation.

Lachie Farrington, 2022 LGSC Participant.




Regimented regimes, lack of flexibility, poor insight into individualised learning needs and a ‘one size fits all’ approach to education is creating barriers to learning in Australia.   The Warrnambool WAVE School (WAVE) breaks down those barriers for young people aged 15-19 years, creating an inviting, comfortable learning environment where students are supported to access education and achieve successful outcomes in VCAL and their future goals.

The classroom at WAVE where our Reskilling the Region for the Future program day was held, at first glance, was not unlike any regular classroom.  However, a closer look revealed swinging egg chairs located around the room, a flexible layout and a flexible timetable allowing an individualised approach to learning for each student.

WAVE School Coordinator and Teacher Damien Farley spoke of the WAVE’s ability to reengage disengaged students in education.  Teachers at WAVE take time to get to know each student’s personal interests and support students to set goals relevant to each individual’s circumstances, interests and needs.  The teachers at WAVE school advocate for their students and work to facilitate work experience, education and employment opportunities.  The ultimate aim of each student at WAVE is to complete a VCAL program and find meaningful employment guided by the school’s support and flexible learning arrangements.

Students at WAVE often face significant barriers to accessing education.  These barriers are different for each student and include not feeling supported at ‘mainstream’ school, financial and social barriers.  Students at WAVE school are supported to feel safe, happy and cared about.   The school offers flexible hours to enable students to work, gain valuable work experience as well as attending school to complete VCAL.  The school also offers assistance with work experience and choosing subjects and a career pathway to suit each individual’s interests.

WAVE is unique in its approach to creating a flexible and welcoming learning environment which facilitates individualised learning programs and breaks down barriers to accessing education. WAVE school teachers are in touch with their students and well ahead in terms of enabling equitable access to education and being student focussed.

Sarah Irving

LGSC Participant 2022



Diversity in the board room


At our Leadership Great South Coast program day “Governance in Community”, we heard about the importance of boards being more adaptive, responsive and diverse to ensure strong community representation.

Morgana Ryan, Facilitator, Author and Business Leader and Karen Foster, Moyne Shire Councillor and Chair of Leadership Great South Coast, spoke about governance structures in our community. We heard about the important role boards play in the strategic direction of organisations.

The discussion throughout the day raised some interesting questions including are our current board members representative of the community?

Ad hoc evidence suggests most board members in our community are men in their late forties or older.

The challenge for our current boards is to consider diversity.  How can boards attract younger community members to participate more? How can we encourage additional First Nations people to participate on boards? Females make up half our community, what can we do to promote females as board members? We also need to consider ways to incorporate representation from minority groups such as LGBTQIA+, migrant and disability communities.

With diversity comes broad perspectives and opinion, which can lead to healthy debate and improved decision making.

As a community, what are some proactive steps we can take to change the makeup of our boards?

Our speakers revealed the appetite of boards to be more diverse. They spoke about the “Observership Program”, which facilitates the involvement of young, talented, and energetic individuals in a structured experience on non-profit Boards. In this instance, an ‘Observer’ (a non-voting member) is paired with an organisation for a 12-month period, where they can observe the board, its processes and structures. By exposing young people to boards, it is hoped they will apply to be a voting board member at the end of their tenure.

Board selection base on quota is another option. In this method the specific percentage of board members are selected based on their gender, age or community.

It also comes down to the individual. If you are passionate about an area of a board and you can add your values and diversity to the board and its community, please do not hesitate to apply.

Thank you to all our speakers, Morgana Ryan, Karen Foster and David Sprigg from Infoxchange for their flexibility and quick response to our changing circumstances

For more information about joining the boards you can use the below links

Matine Tondkar, 2022 LGSC Participant


It works! I want to! I can! – “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”


At our Leadership Great South Coast program day “Understanding our Place in Climate Mitigation and Adaption” our speakers Mark Wootton and Eve Kantor from Jigsaw Farms, Graeme Anderson from Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions and Jason Thomas, LGSC Alumni encouraged us to explore how to live more sustainably and as community leaders challenge the status quo on carbon neutrality. As noted by Graeme, “We need to build communities that we want to work and live in and make decisions today that leave us better off in the future.”

Sounds simple, but is it?

It should be – we should be able to waste less, buy less, recycle, reuse, refit and regenerate, although how does this fit with Australian consumerism?

Consumerism is the theory that individuals who consume goods and services in large quantities will be better off. Some economists believe consumer spending stimulates production and economic growth. Our speakers discussed how consumerism is destroying our environment. As the demand for goods increases, the need to produce these goods also increases. This leads to more pollutant emissions, increased land-use and deforestation, and accelerated climate change. Rather than thinking bigger is better or that you must spend money to make money – why not focus on making your little patch the best it can be?

The cheap t-shirts that you need to replace every 6 months compared to the expensive merino wool ones that will last you for 10 years – what is the better option?

As community leaders we can make small steps to influence how we spend our money – which effects supply and demand – as well as spread awareness and educate how the actions of every individual impacts our environment. Our goal should be to make small changes today so in the future we can help others to make small changes. Theory states we all change our behaviour when ‘it works’ (proven difference), ‘I want to’ (better off) and ‘I can’ (easy and nothing is holding me back). “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Thank you to our hosts Mark Wootton and Eve Kantor from Jigsaw Farms for welcoming us to your farm and sharing your journey with Leadership Great South Coast for the past 11 years and allowing us to plant 601 trees to reduce a little bit of our carbon footprint; Graeme Anderson for sharing your passion and knowledge and the self-confessed lazy gardener with a spreadsheet Jason Thomas for inviting us to your home and encouraging us to live more sustainably by making small gradual changes.

Anna Sanderson 2022 LGSC Participant

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