Fairley Leadership Program graduation

By Laura Briggs

Community members have joined in celebration and recognition of this year’s Fairley Leadership Program graduates.

A dinner at the GV Hotel in Shepparton on Thursday had 130 people come together to support the 25 graduates.

Guests heard from speakers, including some of the graduates and special guest speaker Monga Mukasa, while enjoying a meal.

Program facilitator Fiona Smolenaars announced the graduates, speaking about a specific project they had chosen to complete as part of the program.

‘‘Fairley is about understanding the strategic issues and opportunities of the Goulburn Valley region, building networks wider than your existing situation and understanding yourself as a leader,’’ she said.

‘‘So to put this all in context, we encouraged everyone to undertake a project in the year to either be delivered during the year or shortly after.’’

The 25 projects covered a wide range of issues from engaging people in active lifestyles and helping others in various life aspects, to developing community facilities and running various programs and fundraising events.

Ms Smolenaars was pleased to see the leaders progress during the program.

‘‘I can’t wait to see how they shine and their contribution to the community in coming years,’’ she said.

Fairley Leadership Program chief executive Michelle Luscombe congratulated the graduates and encouraged them in the future endeavours.

‘‘It gives me great comfort to know that they are our future leaders,’’ Ms Luscombe said.

Also there to offer congratulations and share his story was Monga Mukasa.

Ms Smolenaars said with one in three people in the Shepparton region younger than 24, it was only fitting to have a young person — who shared the same passion for the community — to speak at the event.

Mr Mukasa, 22, shared a glimpse of his life while incorporating a strong focus on the young people of the Goulburn Valley and how the graduates could play a major role in building a better future for young ones in the area.

‘‘Issues affecting young people are becoming more and more complex to tackle, but I strongly believe that as a community we achieve solving these complex issues by first giving the young people a voice and second walk in solidarity with them,’’ he said.

‘‘To my dear Fairley Leadership Program participants of 2018; as you graduate here tonight, I encourage you to go forth into the wider community using your knowledge, gifts and talents in service to others while bringing positive change.

‘‘Just remember that somebody once believed in you and supported you to be the person you are here today, therefore I ask that you also believe in someone, especially our young people in the Greater Shepparton area that need somebody to believe in them.

‘‘Because when you believe in them, they will flourish and become significant assets in community.’’

The night finished with a summary of the year’s program by graduates Jessica Daniel and Zane Foott.

For more Rodney Braithwaite pictures of Thursday’s Fairley Graduation dinner, see our Around Town section next week.