Conference to challenge leaders

SEVERAL Western Australians are among 200 representatives from 40 Commonwealth countries, all earmarked as future leaders, who are meeting at a conference to look at the relationship between industry and the community around it.

The ninth Commonwealth Study Conference – an initiative founded by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has been co-held in Australia and New Zealand from October 15 to 29 with the theme of People First in the Global Community.

While the study conference gives participants an opportunity to find solutions to problems, its primary aim is to develop future leaders.

Prince Philip has said the representatives were to be “people who appeared likely to be in the next generations of leaders so that when the time came for them to take important decisions they would have the benefit of what they had discovered on the study conference to help them”.

WA’s seven representatives to the conference were Smithson Planning managing director Neil Smithson, State School Teachers Union of WA teacher union official Mary Franklyn, Curtin University School of Occupational Therapy lecturer Trevor Goddard, Alcoa Alumina Australia sustainability manager Vanessa Guthrie, Centrelink area manager WA Gavin McCairns, CSIRO Australia research program manager Claus Otto and ACIL Tasman executive director WA and NT Ian Satchwell.

The objectives of the conference are to:

Provide a unique educational experience to broaden the understanding and decision making ability of individuals who are likely to raise to positions of leadership;

Challenge and explore the ideas and assumptions of participants through a process of enquiry and discussion in study groups;

Ensure conference membership is broadly representative of management, trade unions, government, community and academia with a balance of gender; and

Organise the conference in a manner that demonstrates high quality professional delivery in every way.

The conference involved participants being split into 14 study groups with 11 of those groups visiting Australian locations and three going to New Zealand locations.

The study tours were designed to give members exposure to a range of commercial and industrial enterprises, educational institutions, community projects and local governments.

Members were given an opportunity to question the rationale of established practises.

Each group has to try and reach a consensual view of what they had seen to present to their fellow members at the closing sessions.

It is said the consensus reaching is where the real work of the conference takes place.

The first Commonwealth Study Conference was held in the UK in 1956.

Its purpose was not to produce high sounding resolutions but to challenge the participants’ assumptions and prejudices.


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