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Regional areas have something special that is often lost in Australia’s key cities: community. Yet growth of regional centres doesn’t need to come at the cost of cohesion and community involvement. Working closely with Dattner Grant Be.Bendigo ran a landmark regional leadership program.

The Greater City of Bendigo has been home to significant growth in recent years, fueled by the investment from the State Government in the new Health Precinct and the refurbishment of Bendigo Hospital (now set up as a major regional surgical and clinical hub).

 

This has affected all parts of the community, from real estate to private business, from larger regional commercial business hubs to broader community resources.

Leah Sertori, the CEO of Be.Bendigo has, from the start of her appointment as CEO, been a major advocate for lifting the benchmark on regional leadership as a central means to increasing business, government and broad community collaboration. Leah has worked with Dattner Grant, and Fabian Dattner in particular, for many years in various regional leadership roles and so approached Fabian to design a bespoke program for an entity known as Be.Bendigo.

 

Be.Bendigo is the latest evolution of the Bendigo Business Council. It represents all people and organisations who want to invest in their capability and networks, grow their business and maintain Bendigo’s relevance on the national and international stage. Their name was changed to reflect their ambition: to engage individuals, businesses and organisations wanting to play a role in elevating business excellence in Bendigo. Now Be.Bendigo is a platform for visionary organisations to help shape the business climate and conditions of Victoria’s third-largest city.

In its first iteration, Fabian’s contribution to this initiative was the first module of a broader program called The Rob Hunt Leadership Program. In this first piece, Fabian framed up the broader ‘why’ for leadership engagement, and provided a means by which a diverse group of leaders was able to build a strong sense of common intent and a deep level of personal insight into their individual contributions. A number of other contributors did key pieces, including Rob Hunt himself (one of Australia’s great social entrepreneurs and community leaders).

In the second iteration of this program, Leah decided to increase Dattner Grant’s role to help hold the program together, and to ensure the linking was clear around key parts and the actual practice of leadership in the community.

 

The program received exceptionally positive feedback, with CEO Leah Sertori delighted by the outcome. Although the context of the broader community impact is not easily measured at this stage, it would be fair to say that everyone who participated got major personal outcomes from the journey, and now the broader group will be exploring how they can keep this collaboration going as part of the growth of the Greater City of Bendigo. Community change of this kind takes time, but everyone was surprised at the extent of change they experienced in the program, and the sense of possibility that everyone shared.

 Author, Fabian Dattner, Founding Partner Dattner Grant, Co Founder Homeward Bound