A new generation of Australian not-for-profit leaders are on the cusp of gaining fresh skills, networks and credentials after winning a place in the first round of the Future 500 Leaders scholarships.
More than 150 community directors and senior staff were selected in a national campaign for the chance to study for the Diploma of Business (Governance) – targeting not-for-profit needs.
Successful applicants came from groups championing LGBTQI+, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD), indigenous, rural and regional Australians, as well as youth and women.
Each has earnt a $1000 scholarship to study for the Institute of Community Directors Australia (ICDA) course, which is Australia’s only accredited governance diploma.
Our Community’s group managing director, Denis Moriarty, said the unashamed focus on diversity as part of ICDA’s strategy for 2019 had been well rewarded with a strong response.
Mr Moriarty said the scholarships were made possible through the support of the Trawalla Foundation, and aimed at providing an antidote to the governance troubles that had diluted the public’s trust in many institutions.
“We need good leadership to shake up old-fashioned, wrong-headed ways that are putting the brakes on progress. We think the best way to encourage that is by investing in the governance capacity of not-for-profit groups.”
The Trawalla Foundation’s chair, Carol Schwartz (AM), said the Foundation’s support represented money well spent.
“Our investment represents funds aimed at future social impact, where it is needed most, and it has been rewarding to see the response,” Ms Schwartz said.
“The scholarship fits neatly with our focus on helping exceptional individuals and organisations with a vision for the future, especially those with an eye on gender equality, creativity, sustainability and social justice”.
ICDA’s director of leadership and diversity, Kylie Cirak, who is overseeing the scholarships program and faced the tough task of selecting the winners, said she had been mightily impressed by the entries.
“The calibre of applicants was outstanding, and reflected such a great variety of experiences, skills, and aspirations,” Ms Cirak said.
“There are some incredible stories behind many of these applications. A common theme from applicants – and especially the women who applied – is that they hope the diploma will ‘legitimise’ their voices on boards.
“While these kinds of challenges can be frustrating, it’s refreshing to know that doing this course will make the difference they are hoping for.”
She said significant numbers of applicants from non-English-speaking backgrounds had demonstrated “incredible determination and commitment to their cause”.
Applications also came from the young and the old, with the youngest applicant still in her teens and already wanting to represent Australia on the international stage.
Many applicants from Indigenous circles have already got runs on the board and hope the study will help them raise their own standards and those of their organisations.
There was also strong representation from rural and regional directors and sector workers across the country, from Broome to Tasmania, who aim to do better in bringing services and advocacy to areas outside the big cities.
And there was a passionate response from many in the LGBTIQ+ community, who realised greater professional development will make a big difference to the people they're aiming to help via not-for-profit organisations on the frontline of progressive thinking.
The Diploma of Business (Governance) is the premier diploma-level governance qualification in Australia, and it provides specialised training in not-for-profit governance. The course is delivered by the Institute of Community Directors Australia, in alliance with Federation Training.