Passion: the one word to rule them all

One ring to rule them all.

It’s that catchy tagline from the Lord of the Rings movies but when I visited Paroo Shire recently, I came away with one word to rule them all: PASSION.

I’m proud to report that the Whole of Community Change program is well on its way in the Paroo Shire. I know what you’re thinking… where is that? Located in South West, Queensland, the wonderful people of Paroo Shire treated me to a fabulous week filled with great ideas shared among all. The Shire is filled with so many diverse people who each have their own views on enabling economic opportunity, social change and community growth well into the long-term.

All the way back in May this year (hasn’t 2015 just flown by?), I began meeting with hundreds of people right across the Shire. Yowah, Eulo, Wyandra and Cunnamulla… each historical town is filled with people keen to have their say.

Our engagement sessions over the past few months have seen us gathering what I call hope. Hope in the form of feedback and aspirations from each community and from literally everyone. Students, youth, elders… from the unemployed to the members of the Chamber of Commerce, Councillors, farmers, service providers and strategic partners, Whole of Community Change involves literally everyone.

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Oh, did I mention? I’ve met some truly wonderful people while visiting amazing places along the way.

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If I had to pick a highlight here, it’d have to be what I call the engagement phase which was the delivery of a youth motivational session last month. Over 60 year 7 to 12 students from Cunnamulla State School gathered for a full day session of ‘Your Voice Matters’. Together, they created wishlists and set goals for the future of their community. This is the kind of stuff that gives me goosebumps – it’s incredibly inspiring!

Here’s a fantastic quote from one of the students that I just love!

“I learnt to have no shame… To have a plan… To take action… To be a leader!”

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the Paroo Shire took the next big step in the Whole of Community Change process. In total, 45 delegates gathered to identify the community’s core values, a community owned vision and a blueprint for the future development of the Shire. I’ll be honest: it was a great privilege to facilitate this stage of the program (and I really will hold these memories with me forever).

And how’s this for the new vision for the region? With vision and unity, we grow together.

How chuffed am I? Really chuffed! The feedback has been awesome and everyone joined in with a great ‘give it a go’ spirit that united us all. Ideas were sparked and priorities set. Elders and others placed their wishes on the Visionary Board that will serve as a constant reminder about what we’re trying to build.

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To date, this program has already engaged thousands of women from all walks of life and from over 50 countries across the globe.

The WOW program is a 3-day experience where women come together in a unique and very personal journey of self-discovery and healing.  Already, women in Cunnamulla are signing up for our October intake. I believe all women have the capacity to shift humanity in a positive way. Here is my message of hope to all women everywhere (I call it Playing Big for Social Change).

My massive week ended in a great radio session recorded live with Trevor Tim from AICA (Australian Indigenous Communications Australia). It was a real buzz to be interviewed alongside community member, Mandy Fox, and CEO Chris Cowley. Have a listen to this message of hope and please Share this.

Finally, read this fantastic media release by the Mayor Chairperson of the Paroo Shire Council Cunnamulla Aboriginal Community Health.

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