Leadership for our Regions was designed to challenge participants to think reflectively and critically about themselves as initiators, to explore the factors affecting the economic fabric of their region, and to establish viable initiatives to support the future growth of the region.


Leadership for Our Regions is a collaborative project between the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) and Regional Australia Institute (RAI), and funded by Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development. The program was held at two locations: Bundaberg in the Wide Bay Burnett region in Queensland and Burekup in the South West of Western Australia.

Polykala were engaged to design and deliver the leadership and collaboration aspects of the eight-day, two-session residential programs. Each participant was given the opportunity to partake in an immersive development opportunity alongside 25 key stakeholders from across the region to connect, explore and catalyse change. The aim of the program was to combine economic insights from RAI, challenge-based learning from ARLF and would be stitched together with Adaptive Leadership development and experiential learning from Poykala.

Regional Australia is a key driver of Australia’s economic growth and a bastion of its environmental and social heritage. At the same time, some Australian regions are dealing with fundamental adaptive challenges associated with industry decline and population change. Confronting this multi-faceted adaptive challenge takes a region-specific approach. This program was geared at empowering community stakeholders make lasting, positive change happen in their region.


The program was custom-designed to fit the needs of the experienced cohort of participants. Throughout the two days, we focussed on the core theory of adaptive leadership, including distinguishing between leadership and authority, diagnosing and approaching adaptive and technical challenges, and creating a holding environment for crucial conversations. We used the ideas of Adaptive Leadership to challenge participants to find ways of seeing shared interests and aspirations for the mutual benefit of their regions. The sessions were dynamic and showed how the Adaptive framework could help shape constructive action in both regions.

Throughout the program, we used the case-in-point methodology to explore the key adaptive challenges within the cohort that existed more broadly within each region. By pushing into these difficult but necessary conversations, we introduced a framework for authentic collaboration and an approach to exploring region-wide adaptive challenges. Finally, we used the Harvard peer-consultation methodology to bring new perspectives and approaches to the individual adaptive challenges of the participants. The process also gave participants an insight into the challenges of their peers spurring deeper collaboration, post-program.


Polykala is proud to have contributed meaningfully to the conversations in these regions. We’re confident the participants from each group will continue to mobilise their communities to face the challenges and make the most of the opportunities in their context. 

“Polykala are professional, creative and masterful in their craft of bringing the concepts of Adaptive Leadership to life and, most importantly, making the ideas accessible and applicable for anyone who is part of their immersive workshops. Participants long remember the salient moment when they became fully aware of the useful concepts presented to them that they knew they would be consolidating in their leadership practice and in their interactions with others.”

Andrea Hogg – Director of Learning, Australian Rural Leadership Foundation


Australian Rural Leadership Foundation


2019 – 2020

Number of participants


Number of sessions



Bundaberg (QLD) / Burekup (WA)