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Fairley Leadership Program

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The Program - one year that can change your life...

Each year, a selection of the Goulburn Murray region's most promising leaders become Fellows of the Fairley Leadership Program. They participate in an intensive 11 month program to study key challenges facing the Goulburn Murray region.

The Fairley Leadership Program offers an unparalleled opportunity for in-depth learning about complex regional issues, and the partnerships and leadership skills needed to address them. Fairley Graduates (Fairley Fellows) make lifelong connections with diverse leaders – connections that help them advance professionally and in community leadership roles.

Over the 11 months of the annual program, participants attend a launch and graduation, two weekend retreats, 15 seminar days, several dinners and study tours to Canberra and Melbourne. Participants are exposed to more than 120 leaders from all sectors including politics, business, industry, sport, not-for-profit and community. In doing so, they explore issues and opportunities for the region and consider leadership styles, attributes, ethics and values.

The seminars are theme-based and include topics such as health, education, water, regional development, Aboriginal issues, small towns, the arts and agriculture. Program activities include field trips, case studies, panel discussions and presentations. Participants are also given some training in competencies such as board governance, public speaking and media skills.

The program primarily covers the Shires of Campaspe, Mitchell, Moira, Murrindindi and Strathbogie, the Rural City of Benalla and Greater Shepparton but has accepted participants from Kerang, Wangaratta, Deniliquin, Tocumwal, Berrigan and Finley.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

John Quincy Adams


To see positive change in Goulburn Murray regional communities driven by local community leaders.


The Fairley Leadership Program encourages the development of a vigorous network of community leaders by:

  • offering emerging leaders an intensive annual program that explores the major issues and opportunities for the Goulburn Murray region;
  • providing an environment where emerging leaders from the business, government, cultural, community and agricultural sectors can develop links and understanding;
  • enabling emerging leaders to meet and learn from existing leaders; and
  • combining emerging and existing leaders as a continuing resource of skills and influence to further enrich the community.


Fairley Leadership began in 1997 as a result of a local businessman’s (Ross McPherson, Managing Director of the McPherson Media Group) participation in the Williamson Community Leadership Program based in Melbourne. On his return he gathered together a group of local business and community people interested in addressing the need for leadership across the region.

A community based not-for-profit board continues to steer Goulburn Murray Community Leadership. The program now has more than 600 graduates across the Goulburn Murray region and beyond.

The program provides an opportunity for people to develop leadership skills across the Goulburn Murray region and to explore the major issues facing the region and assist positive change.


The Fairley Leadership Program brings together diverse men and women with multiple perspectives, and builds relationships based on trust and understanding.

Since 1997, Fairley Leadership has competitively selected more than 600 men and women from many different sectors, backgrounds and ethnicities from throughout the Goulburn Murray region. They include, among others, corporate executives, government officials, entrepreneurs, community organizers and directors of not-for-profit organisations.

Fairley Leadership participants connect not only with each other but also with the over 120 community, business and government leaders they meet during their Fairley Leadership Program year.

Fairley Map


Participants are selected according to a comprehensive list of criteria including a demonstrated capacity for leadership, broad ranging interests and the potential to sustain positions of substantial responsibility in the community. Candidates should:

  • hold a decision-making role in employment or extensive community experience;
  • have more than five years work or community experience with a still-developing career;
  • demonstrate a strong interest in community affairs and a commitment to the community; and
  • be ready to accept the time commitment and challenges of the program year and ongoing community involvement.

People from rural and isolated communities, disadvantaged backgrounds, Aboriginal and ethnically diverse communities are actively encouraged to apply.

Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.

Warren Bennis


Fairley Leadership participants do more than learn about the region’s challenges – they become part of a network of leaders from throughout the Goulburn Murray region who are working for change. At the end of the Fairley Leadership Program year, they join over 550 Fairley Leadership Fellows – and have access to continuing educational and networking opportunities to help them advance their community leadership goals.

2020 Calendar


Goulburn Murray Community Leadership

is proudly supported by the following partners:

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