The Drought Resilience Leadership Development Program delivered capacity building training in eight different drought sensitive regions across Australia to enhance their ability to respond to and prepare for future climatic challenges.


The Australian Rural Leadership Foundation was successfully awarded the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry’s tender to design and deliver a drought resilience leadership course and a mentoring program to build the capacity of drought-sensitive regions to build their resilience to future hardships. The program’s aim was to particularly develop the skills and capabilities of young and emerging leaders. We did this by facilitating a culture of learning and knowledge sharing throughout the program thereby building national drought resilience leadership capability in Australia via locally calibrated learning.

It was a significant project that aimed to reach over 400 participants across 12-15 regions through locally led delivery arrangements that were designed in conversation with communities.

Throughout 2021 and 2022, Polykala was engaged by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation to design and deliver the Adaptive Leadership component of the residentials for groups of participants from each of the selected regions.


The challenge of COVID surges and impenetrable state borders throughout 2021 and 2022 ensured that the original design of the crew from Polykala flying to each of the remote regions was not possible. However, in place of in-person sessions, we were able to design an online learning experience that was engaging and thought-provoking. We managed Zoom fatigue by encouraging participants to listen to Country and make connections offline with local participants.

All up, Polykala engaged with eight different drought-sensitive regions to deliver full-day Adaptive Leadership training sessions: Central West Queensland, Northern Wheatbelt, (Western Australia), Northwest Slopes & Plains (New South Wales), Western New South Wales, Murraylands (South Australia), Gascoyne-Murchison (Western Australia), Southwest Queensland, and Katherine (Northern Territory).

As with all our programs, we attempted to strike the balance between pithy teaching moments to convey the fundamentals of the Adaptive Leadership framework, while ensuring ample opportunities for participants to digest and apply the concepts to their region’s challenges.

The content of the sessions focussed on cultural change and adaptation, working with loss aversion, distinguishing between leadership and authority, and designing interventions for technical and adaptive challenges and opportunities.


Keeping participants engaged during online learning experiences is something that Polykala prides itself on. We were able to challenge the thinking of the participants and offer alternative ways to observe, understand and approach the significant challenges they face in rural, regional and remote settings. We’re proud to have been involved in this project alongside the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation to make a tangible difference to people who steward an immense proportion of the nation. 

Polykala have been a valuable source of inspiration, wisdom and insight for participants in programs delivered by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF).  As trusted collaborators and co-creators, they were an easy choice to work with when the ARLF set about designing and delivering a massive leadership development project for up to 400 people across rural, regional and remote Australia as part of the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund project.”

Andrea Hogg – Director of Learning, Australian Rural Leadership Foundation


Australian Rural Leadership Foundation


2021 – 2022

Number of participants


Number of sessions