The Honourable Linda Dessau, Governor of Victoria

“The pay-offs of this program are enormous. Not for profits need access to ready-made board members. They, like every organisation, need diversity around their tables. Within that, they need wise younger heads alongside wise older heads. The sector will prosper. The beneficiaries of this training and experience will profit. And the skills that they acquire will be taken into their careers, further board appointments and volunteering, as a win for the broader community.”
The Honourable Linda Dessau, Governor of Victoria

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The Honourable Linda Dessau, Governor of Victoria

“I have long held the view that we must nurture our next generation of young board members. It first occurred to me when I was one myself! I had early and welcome opportunities to contribute to not-for-profit boards and committees of management. Unfortunately, the supports that this Program provides were simply not available to me…. I have no doubt that my experience would have been enriched – and safer – with the scaffold of this sort of Program wrapped around me.”
The Honourable Linda Dessau, Governor of Victoria

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Alvaro Rodas Fernandez, 2019 Observer

The Observership Program is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the role and responsibilities of a NFP Board member, plus an excellent training course and chances to network with extremely interesting and well-connected people.”

Alvaro joined the Media Diversity Australia board following his Observership year.

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Blayne Welsh, 2018 Observer

As an Wailwan and Kamilaroi man concerned about the need for Indigenous representation in the board room of our organisations, the Observership program gave me the foundational knowledge I need to be comfortable stepping up into these much needed roles. It’s been as beneficial to me as it has been to our organisations. I implore our future leaders and community organisations to use this valuable program and secure the future of Indigenous organisations run by our communities, for our communities.:

Blayne joined The Ilbijerri Theatre Board following his Observership year.

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David Pumphrey, Director, Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife

This is our third year as a participating board, and we continue to reap the benefits of being involved. We recognise the importance of selecting an observer with the right experience relevant to our strategy, operations and focus at that time. We involve the observers as much as we can in the organisation, encouraging contribution at each board meeting and through seeking their input in areas where their skills lie.”

Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife – Participating Not-For-Profit in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020.

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Dr Sarah Wenham, 2017 Observer

What I valued most was that the program provides a supported introduction to what it means to be a board member. The combination of quality boards from which to gain firsthand experience and training from the highly respected AICD is a winning one.”

Sarah joined the Diabetes Victoria board following her Observership year.

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Emily Crews, 2019 Observer

I feel that the knowledge and experience gained throughout the Observership Program is already being put to good use at work as well as in my new role as a Board Director. In general, my understanding of the role of Directors is now a lot clearer as well as the role and responsibility of ARIA and the way its run as an organisation.”

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Emma MCarroll, 2020 Observer

It’s been such a privilege to be part of the Observership Program so far this year and an incredible experience to observe a board over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to benefit from the wealth of experience of board members, and to be able to witness and participate in their response at this unprecedented time. I’ve already learnt so much and am looking forward to the remaining seven months.”

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Evelyn Du Mont, 2018 Observer

The training program was fantastic, and I have been highly recommending it to friends and colleagues. The content was relevant and timely and enhanced the board observation. The training has also been relevant for my day job and provided me with new perspective and approaches to consider my work.”

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George Downing, 2016 Observer

AICD’s training throughout the year teaches Observers core governance principles you can apply immediately. It’s a crucial part of the overall experience, giving you both practical skills and a kind of best-practice framework to compare and contrast with your real life board experience.”

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Jane Hutchinson, Executive Director, Strategy and Innovation, The Nature Conservancy Australia Program

The Observership Program continues to provide significant value and support to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and our work in Australia. We were very grateful this year to have Laura Parr, Strategy and Insights Manager at Google, join our Board of Trustees as part of the Program.  Not being content to just “observe”, Laura was instrumental in assisting The Nature Conservancy Australia Program team to take a deep dive into one of the key barriers for the career progression of women.  Through Laura’s leadership, a women’s empowerment workshop was facilitated at the Google Headquarters in Melbourne in late June 2019.  A group of 15 women attended the workshop and were coached in self-promotion techniques based on illuminating research, carefully crafted for the Australian context. As a consequence of Laura’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives, we now have regular meetings to support our TNC Australia women to make their maximum contribution and have started to discuss broadening the conversation out for greater diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives within the team, beyond gender. We are enormously grateful to Laura for her diligent support in the advancement of TNC Australia’s women and for her curiosity in exploring the world of nature conservation.  Thank you to Google for supporting Laura on that journey and to the Observership Program for making it all happen.”

The Nature Conservancy Australia Program – Participating Not-For-Profit in 2019 and 2020.

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Kate Stewart, 2018 Observer

The Observership Program is a wonderful opportunity for personal development.  Participation on the program exposes you to a diverse community of NFP leaders who are regularly making decisions that have a broader impact on society and the people that are often left behind.  The knowledge and skills that you pick up from being an observer are skills that can’t be taught in a classroom.  By observing boards in action, you will learn how to be a better leader, a better listener and have a broader array of skills through which to apply when making decisions, whether they be in the NFP or for profit sector.  The formal program component including the AICD content is a bonus and its comprehensive nature, when applied in action via The Observership Program, is the perfect catalyst for a person to want to contribute and make a difference in whatever role they are pursuing.:

Kate joined the FareShare Board following her Observership year.

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Lisa Chung, Chair, The Benevolent Society

The Benevolent Society is delighted to be participating for the second year in the Board Observership program. Applicants to the program are high calibre and well matched to the organisation, such that it was very difficult to select from those we interviewed.  The program delivers great benefit to us as an organisation in identifying candidates who offer great energy, fresh perspectives and a range of expertise to apply to specific projects and our activities generally. In return, The Benevolent Society aims to provide the board observer with a rich and engaging board experience sitting at the table with seasoned directors who have a wide range of experience and expertise and in-depth learning about our sector and its challenges. In this way, we are helping to develop board directors of the future.”

The Benevolent Society – Participating Not-For-Profit in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

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Mark Valerio, 2015 Observer

The Observership Program his has been a fantastic experience. A big part of why I’m at PwC is the opportunity to have a larger impact on the community and being offered the opportunity to participate in The Observership Program provided me with the launch pad into future director roles within the not-for-profit sector to not only provide a contribution to the community in an area I’m passionate about but also to broaden my professional network. Being on the board has given me a different perspective on leading a company and allowed me to put myself in the shoes of a director to understand what they are thinking. This has made conversations with clients more interesting and valuable for both sides.”

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Mathew Stewart, 2019 Observer

My experience was one of, if not the most rewarding professional experiences I have had.  I was welcomed whole-heartedly by the board and asked not to think of myself as an observer but as a member of the board, often being prompted for my thoughts on significant matters and decisions.  I could not have had a better experience.”

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Matthew Taylor, 2018 Observer

The Observership Program is an unparalleled opportunity for mutually-beneficial exchange between young leaders and the not-for-profit sector. By providing structured training and a seat at the table, it empowers young people to contribute a unique perspective and valuable skills and experience to the boardroom. When embraced by both sides, the program showcases the benefits of inclusion and diversity for all involved.”

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Michael Ullmer, Chair, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO)

I am really impressed with the philosophy of the Observership Program to encourage young professionals to get a deep understanding of governance practices in the not for profit sector. This is an area of real need and one where they can make a great contribution. What has surprised me though is the quality of the candidates offered to the MSO – highly motivated individuals, each with strong credentials and importantly, in our case, a passion for music! The Observers receive a comprehensive, structured training program facilitated by the AICD, so they come to the table well prepared to broaden their understanding with practical experience. Our Observer is a young partner in a major law firm, and is already adding value. I encourage all not for profits to seriously consider participating in the program.”

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) – Participating Not-For-Profit in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

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Paul Devlin, 2020 Observer

The program is a great integrated learning experience – mixing theory, lecture and hands on experience. The last component is the spark that brings the lessons to life. The experience of observing a board ‘in action’ and seeing the dynamics and discussions play out is invaluable. At Abbotsford Convent, the Chair and board have been gracious with their time, even in the challenging times our society finds itself. Rather than impacting the Observership experience, if anything the crisis has enhanced it. Professionally, it has been amazing to see board and management pivot and pressure test plans.

And personally, it is fulfilling to see that my experience and efforts can – in some small ways – assist the convent navigate through the crisis.”

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Professor Andrea Hull AO, Chair, Melbourne Recital Centre

The Board of Melbourne Recital Centre welcomes the contributions made by talented members of The Observership Program. We commend this initiative to other organisations committed to good governance and increasing the diverse voices represented in boardrooms.”

Melbourne Recital Centre – Participating Not-For-Profit in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

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Tara Prowse, 2019 Observer

My time as an Observer was one of the most productive professional development experiences I have ever had. The ability to gain an insight into a Board operation and to be so well looked after and mentored by the Chair will absolutely stay with me as I progress professionally.”

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Victoria Marles, Chair, Abbotsford Convent Foundation

The support and professional development the observers receive over the course of the program is invaluable and cannot be accessed anywhere else. The selection process is very strategic: it ensures organisational fit. The Convent Observers have demonstrated real diligence and commitment to their role: they have brought valuable experience and expertise to the board table, including during the current Covid-19 crisis.”

Abbotsford Convent Foundation – Participating Not-For-Profit in 2018, 2019, 2020.

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Barbara Horn, Director, Footscray Community Arts Centre

Footscray Community Arts Centre Board has participated in the Observership Program since 2018. Over this period, the Board has welcomed a diverse, highly engaged cohort of Observers, each of whom has made a significant contribution to its deliberations and activities. Observers have brought significant skills and fresh perspectives to our work, and we have benefited greatly from their energy, commitment and intelligence. The Program team provides excellent support to participants and we see their governance confidence and competence blossom during their time as Observers. In addition, recruitment and monitoring of Observers and the program is expertly managed so it does not present an undue burden for the participating Board – this is undoubtedly a very worthwhile investment in future Directors for the not-for-profit sector.”

Footscray Community Arts Centre – Participating Not-For-Profit in 2018, 2019, 2020

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The Observership Program acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past, present and emerging. We also accept the invitation in the Uluru Statement from the Heart to walk together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.