Creating courageous leaders
19 January 2021

Creating courageous leaders

The City of Onkaparinga is building active citizenship and the capacity of the community in a range of leadership programs.

The collective values of people in the local area are being harnessed in a suite of masterclasses and short and long-format programs delivered by Leadership Onkaparinga.

“Our programs partner with leading thinkers, research bodies and industry to create broader awareness about social issues, support social capital and increase community connection. Together, the facilitators nurture courageous leaders who are unafraid to try something new to make their communities stronger,” says Leadership Onkaparinga Program Officer Joanna Giannes.

Recent programs include Leadership for Social Change (2020) and Women of Courage (2019). Both programs helped participants to gain a deeper understanding of the machinery of government, which is critical in progressing their issues.

Leadership for Social Change had core learning in social entrepreneurship and its capacity to deal with the social issues of active citizenship and food security.

Participants Sharon McGann and Brett Manuel brought unique skills and intentions to the program. Sharon is the volunteer chair of the steering group for the Onkaparinga Food Security Collaborative and a committee member for Healthy Cities Onkaparinga. Brett works in communications engagement in state government and has a passion for active citizenship and building community capacity.

As an avid reader and self-led student, Sharon says the program reinforced a lot of the concepts about food security she had learned.

“I have a new level of understanding about complex social problems and how to be an adaptive leader in securing healthy food for our community. For the first time, I have something real to put into practise in my work rather than abstract concepts,” Sharon says.

Brett arrived at the program with an active citizenship perspective, wanting to consider how he could lend his skills to projects already under way within the community. Since completing the program, Brett has been giving his time to supporting the work of a local organisation alleviating homelessness.

“A key impact of Leadership for Social Change is that I feel more connected to the community. I have a greater awareness of the projects being developed in Onkaparinga and every reason to be enthused about the good things that are happening in the area,” Brett says.

Women of Courage was a cross-cultural civic community leadership program that focussed on learning about nation building, political systems and leadership practices and principles. The program looked through the lens of Aboriginal and other nation’s cultural practices to explore healing self and healing communities. In doing so, participants are better able to support individuals and groups within the community to achieve their potential. The result is a strong and vibrant community for current and future generations.

The program was part funded by the state government’s Office for Women to mark the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

Participant Alema Pilot, a Ramindjeri, Gurindji and Torres Strait Islander woman, says Women of Courage gave her “the confidence to never stop working for positive change”. In 2020 Alema was a candidate in the Mid Coast ward supplementary election.

“After the program I had the courage to go for opportunities like becoming the Mid Coast ward councillor. In the past year I have been more active in supporting my community and I have been recognised for my work,” Alema says, describing Onkaparinga as the “centre of the universe” for her.

“Onkaparinga is the place where I live with my family and play and work with great people. I feel I have a responsibility and an obligation to my ancestors, parents and elders to show other people that it is possible to take on more of a leadership role in the community. If I do not try, then the door will remain closed for my young people to be future leaders,” Alema says.

Leadership Onkaparinga programs are free for participants. The courses include some of the best facilitators in South Australia and now, around the world, thanks to the development of multimodal learning in 2020 to adapt to be COVID safe.

“The necessity of online learning has helped shape the way for future program design, ensuring even broader accessibility and inclusive opportunities for our community,” Joanna says.

New leadership programs are being developed and recruiting for 2021 is expected to begin in February. People aged 18 years and above who are committed to social change are encouraged to apply. Leadership Onkaparinga welcomes applicants from all cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds in the community.

For new opportunities keep an eye on


Sharon McGann (pictured centre, left) with Michelle Watson, Laurence Saunders and Tricia Dame are focussed on improving food security in the Onkaparinga region; Leadership for Social Change Participants Closing Retreat 2020.

Go Back


Get Onkaparinga Now sent direct to your inbox.

Stay up to date on the latest council news and events, the environment, local business and people, and our fantastic local lifestyle.

* indicates required

Close window

Contact Us

For any suggestions or enquiries regarding Onkaparinga Now please contact us using the form below.

Close Window