Remote learning a bonus for students in the bush

Posted on 16 Jun 2020

By Matthew Schulz

New Diploma of Governance students include Eloise Page, corporate services manager at the Garnduwa Amboorny Wirnan Aboriginal Corporation, based in Broome in Western Australia’s remote Kimberley region.

Eloise Page
Eloise Page of Garnduwa, Broome

Her organisation services a vast area of the country where a trip to visit a satellite office in Kununurra involves a 12-hour drive.

It is the first time students from such far-flung corners of Australia have been able to study with ICDA without travelling to a big centre, and Ms Page couldn’t be happier.

Winning a $1000 part-scholarship targeting rural and regional participants was the icing on the cake.

“I am really excited about starting the Governance Diploma, because it’s something I have wanted to do for a long time,” said Ms Page.

She has been an avid user of Our Community’s online resources “for several years”, which made the decision to study with the Institute an easier one.

Having already participated in workshops and taken on unpaid board roles to shore up her management skills, “I really wanted to extend that, and formalise my knowledge and experience”.

“I was actually attending a governance workshop in Darwin when I came across the information about the scholarships, so I was really in the right headspace to write my application.

“I really feel passionate about having the skills and knowledge to ensure good governance at the local level here in the Kimberley.

00 1978 Western Australia Great Northern Hwy Sandfire Roadhouse
Even those in remote locations can now study the Diploma of Governance with the course now fully online. Picture W. Bulach/Wikimedia Commons

“But of course one of the big challenges out this way has been governance training that’s really accessible. That’s where this diploma is so welcome.”

Ms Page said Garnduwa channels the power of sports and recreation to build community, culture and leadership, empowering Kimberley residents to live healthier lives.

The organisation’s commitment to women leaders in the Kimberley is reflected in its decision to support Ms Page’s studies, even though she had been prepared to pay for the course herself.

Ms Page will manage the diploma while also parenting four children and studying for a degree in dementia care.

“Some people said I was mad, but it’s something I’m really passionate about. I really want to do this. Now’s the time. I’m going to make it work.”

She hopes the diploma will mean a better-run organisation, as she plans to share her newfound wisdom with a CEO and board “deeply committed to quality governance”.

“Without good governance, an organisation is destined for difficulty.

“Good governance keeps an organisation on track with strategic directions, compliance and financial obligations (and) is the difference between a non-profit thriving and failing.

“The strong governance structures already in place at Garnduwa have been so important during COVID-19 and helped us to keep the organisation strong and safe.”

Ms Page said she hoped to use her studies to mentor future Indigenous leaders to take her place at the helm of Garnduwa.

“That’s the ultimate goal for anyone in a not-for-profit, don’t you think? We should all be working toward not being needed.”

Diploma is a big step up out west

Amanda Wallam
Amanda Wallam is among the first to undertake the revamped diploma

Based at Brunswick, a beautiful coastal region a two-hour drive south of Perth, Amanda Wallam is another new student doing the governance diploma as a step up to greater responsibility.

An executive assistant at the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) run by the Noongar people for that vast corner of Western Australia, Ms Wallam’s study will help reach her goal of becoming the organisation’s corporate secretary.

It’s an important gig for an Indigenous service that caters for more than 4000 clients through its main Bunbury clinic, six outreach centres, a large team of doctors and nurses, and teams working with chronic health conditions, maternal health, mental health and health promotion.

“I need to have the qualifications to do this vital role,” Ms Wallam says.

ICDA’s course “was the only accredited training that suited my needs”, which included being able to study while working full time, while offering training that’s “tailored for not-for-profits”.

Ms Wallam hopes to help her organisation, but also other not-for-profits she works with that find governance “daunting and complex”.

It was one of Ms Wallam’s colleagues who alerted her to the scholarship, which has meant the difference in being able to do the study.

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