ELGP 2019 Launch

We were excited to have a packed room to help launch the 2019 Emerging Leaders in Governance program (ELGP) on the 30th January.  The participants got an opportunity to meet and share about themselves in front of the Community Partners and guests.  We were also privileged to have Ruah CEO and President of WACOSS, Debra Zanella speak on behalf of the Community Partners.  Below you’ll find her inspiring address which she has given permission for us to share:


Emerging Leaders in Governance Launch Speech, 30th January 2019

Why support the program

The rise of populism, whether it be Brexit in the UK, Trumps Make America Great Again, Duerte’s campaign against illegal drugs in the Philippines or closer to home with the Make Australia Great campaign, “Its ok to be white” banner at the cricket in WA last week or moves to drug test centerlink payments recipients – calls upon our leaders and emerging leaders to be people of courage; to think differently, to see the world through a different lens – a lens that values all citizens equally and a lens that says that the status quo is not ok- things need to change.

This is one of the reasons I value the Emerging Leaders in Governance Program- the program at its inception, saw a need that was unmet and imagined a solution.  The courage and tenacity to believe in what you are doing and to go after it, to make it happen is characteristic of how this program has emerged since its inception.  

The second reason I support this program is because of the leaders who had the courage to both imagine it into being and whose continued courage, imagination and belief in what they were doing.  Whilst one must always be wary of blindly and duly following leaders, Alicia and Nicky have demonstrated over the years, in this program and the other initiatives that they have developed (their book, the leadership coaching and development and 100 Women philanthropy) that they are testament to authentic leadership, not some passing fad or self-promotion but rather a leadership that puts at its heart the common good. They have created collaboratively something that has begun to change, shape and influence the way we imagine who leads and governs in this space.

Importance of governance and directorship in the NFP sector

You would probably be living as a rock if you were not aware of or have not read the myriad of examples of failed governance across all sectors in our society.  Good governance is not something that the only the NFP sector should do well; all sectors should.  Governance comprises all the processes of governing whether undertaken by governments and boards (the more formal) to governance overs social systems (family, tribe etc). It is as you know the way rules, norms and actions are structured, sustained, regulated and held accountable. 

The word governance ultimately derives from the Greek verb kunernaein (kubernao) – meaning to STEER and was first used by Plato.  It was not until the 1990’s that governance acquired general currency to encompass the broader activities of a wide range of public and private institutions – in some sense our understanding of governance is relatively new and emerging- which is why the founders of this program displayed such vision. 

Even though it is an emerging area we are all acutely aware (through the evidence but also what it feels like) when governance flourishes and when it fails.  We have recently seen, all to horrendously the failure of governance in the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, the Banking Royal Commission and currently the Royal Commission into Aged Care.  These tells us that what we do when charged with the responsibility of governance matters- they matter at the broadest level to ensure systemic anomalies, abuses are identified and rectified and they matter most importantly at the individual level- failed governance hurts people, at times irrevocably (as we see time and time again in the impacts of child sexual abuse on adults being able to live a good life; or people whose life savings , whose mortgages were lost in the global financial crisis-) a clear failure of governance and I would say the failure to live by a moral compass hurts us all.  

This is why I think governance matters and why I take seriously the responsibility and privilege that governance roles offer. In particular the skills, life experience, views, thinking and passion that this group of young emerging leaders offers is critically needed if we are to continue to uphold and value the important role that governance plays in our democratic process.  Let us never take for granted the immense freedom we have as a democratic society – let us protect and nurture it – through good governance.

– Debra Zanella

Our next Unconvention is on Tuesday, 19th March at Jackson MacDonald on the topic of Navigating the Digital Transformation in the Community Sector.  This event is for board directors keen to harness the power of technology in their organisation.


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