Cardinia Community Leadership Program

Opening and closing dates 

Applications for the 2024 program are now closed.

Key points 

  • The Cardinia Community Leadership Program is a fully funded by Cardinia Shire Council  
  • The program is designed for existing and emerging community leaders aged 18 and over who live in Cardinia Shire.  
  • Participants will build and strengthen their capacity in community leadership and participation so they can become even stronger and more effective leaders in local, groups, schools, organisations or neighbourhoods. 
  • The program runs from May to October at various locations across Cardinia Shire. 
  • Participants are expected to be able to attend all program sessions. 

The Cardinia Community Leadership Program is a unique 6-month leadership program fully funded by Cardinia Shire Council. 

The program is for emerging and existing community leaders aged 18 years and over, who want to build or enhance their leadership capabilities. 

 By completing the Cardinia Community Leadership Program participants will develop:  

  • a deeper understanding of self, including strength characteristics, and learning opportunities 
  • a greater understanding of the local community and Council 
  • skills in how to lead and influence for positive outcomes in the community or within organisations 
  • an increased understanding of leadership styles and behaviours 
  • a greater understanding of, and confidence in, their role as leaders within the community 
  • stronger relationships, with Council, local organisations and other program participants and graduates 
  • a greater understanding of Cardinia Shire and the complex issues facing the community 
  • an understanding and ability to communicate, influence and build relationships with those in influential positions. 
  • upon graduation, join an alumni program 

The program will encompass learning through: 

  • The shared experiences and insights of other community and industry leaders from within the field. 
  • Discussions and case studies drawn from the experiences and knowledge of other participants. 
  • Practical activities that allow participants to apply skills in a learning environment.   
  • Topic-specific workshops to allow skill development.  
  • Tools including a psychometric instrument which explores and builds upon leadership skills.  
  • Collaborative work groups working on real community issues and leadership challenges. 
  • Observations and feedback.   
  • Reflective practice.  
  • Networking. 

Full program details will be provided to successful applicants. 

At the end of the program, participants will be invited to join the Cardinia Community Leadership Program Alumni which consists of over 80 previous graduates of the program who are actively demonstrating leadership within their lives and community.  

Program structure 

The program is structured over 5 full days, 5 evening sessions, an evening launch event and graduation ceremony.

Participants are expected to be able to attend all sessions of the program.  

  • Program Launch – Wednesday 22nd May 5:30pm - 9pm
  • Day 1 – Saturday 25th May, 9:30am - 4pm
  • Evening 1 – Wednesday 5th June, 6pm - 9pm
  • Day 2 – Saturday 22nd June, 9:30am - 4pm
  • Evening 2 – Wednesday 17th July, 6pm - 9pm
  • Day 3 – Saturday 27th July, 9:30am - 4pm
  • Evening 3 – Wednesday 7th August, 6pm - 9pm
  • Day 4 – Saturday 24th August, 9:30am - 4pm
  • Evening 4 – Wednesday 4th September,6pm - 9pm
  • Day 5 – Saturday 14th September, 9:30am - 4pm
  • Evening 5 – Wednesday 9th October, 6pm - 9pm
  • Program Graduation - Wednesday 6th November, 6pm - 9pm

*Saturday sessions are held from 9.30am - 4pm at various venues across Cardinia Shire.  

*Wednesday evening sessions are held from 6.00pm - 9.00pm at the Cardinia Shire Council offices, 20 Siding Avenue, Officer, 3809.  

You must be: 

  • a resident of Cardinia Shire 
  • 18 years or over 
  • already involved in the local community in some way 
  • able to attend all program sessions. 

As well as the eligibility criteria listed above, the selection panel will ensure a diverse range of representation within the participant group by also considering: 

  • Geographical representation from across Cardinia Shire 
  • Cultural background, ability, gender, and age 
  • Diversity of personal and life experiences 

There are 22 places available in the program. Applications are invited from eligible community members via a short application form. Successful participants will be selected from these applications and if required, a short interview will be conducted to assist with the selection process. 

All applicants will be notified of the outcome within 4 weeks of the application closing date. 

Applications for the 2024 program are now closed.


What is a leader? 

A leader is someone who guides, motivates and inspires others. They keep a team together and united to work towards a common goal. This can be done formally through a designated leadership role within a workplace, organisation or group or it can be more informal where someone steps up to play this role when needed.  

What is an emerging leader? 

An emerging leader is someone who has the potential and interest to become a leader. They already have many of the qualities of a leader but are yet to step into a formal or informal leadership role. They look to leaders as mentors and examples of what they want to become.  

What is the cost? 

The Cardinia Community Leadership Program is free for successful participants. If the program were not fully funded by Council the cost for each participant would be approximately $2500.  

Do I need to attend all sessions? 

Yes, it is important to attend all sessions. Each session builds on the last so by missing a session you miss a large component of the program and it can be difficult to keep up. 

Can I attend the sessions online? 

All sessions are held in person unless there is a factor outside of our control that forces the program to be conducted online (e.g. COVID-19 restrictions). Participants get the most out of the program when they are together.   

How do I apply? 

You will need to register for a smartygrants account to be able to access the application form. This is a simple process which should only take a few minutes. Please take note of your login and password so that you can refer back to your application if needed and, if successful you may be required to complete additional information through this portal.  

Once you have set up an account, complete the short application form. As applications for the program are highly competitive, we urge you to address the questions in as much detail as possible.

How many places are available? 

There are 22 places available in the program. 

Is there commitment required out of sessions? 

There will be some out-of-session reading required and we encourage groups to meet in between sessions to work on program requirements. 

I've done leadership programs in the past, what makes this one different? 

The Cardinia Community Leadership program is not a lecture-style program that teaches people how to become leaders. Active participation is a key element, learning through the exploration of self, others and issues. Participants will need to be committed, open and vulnerable and throw themselves into the program to get the best experience. 

Am I expected to do things for, or stay in contact with Council after the program? 

The program is not intended to upskill you to work for Council in any way, although contact with Council after the program is always welcomed and appreciated. We invite all graduates of the program to join the Cardinia Community Leadership Program Alumni which is a group of past graduates from the program who connect with each other and participate in specific events and activities facilitated by Council and other Alumni members.

"The program was undoubtedly a transformative experience, and I feel fortunate to have been a part of it. I had the opportunity to learn from and work alongside a diverse group of individuals who were all passionate about making a positive impact in our community. Through workshops, group projects, and networking events, we were able to develop our leadership skills, gain new perspectives, and collaborate on finding the root cause of community issues rather than jump straight into solutions." - Dhileep, Program Graduate 

“The Cardinia Community Leadership Program (CCLP) is at a different level, and of high quality, delivered by one of the best instructors. When I thought, I knew everything with 20 years of corporate experience, and numerous qualifications, I was very wrong. I learned & discovered a lot about myself through ‘My True North’ segment, mobilizing & energizing others, identifying & assessing various challenges within the community, and the tools required to methodically unpack the challenges, and apply solutions. 

I really enjoyed the guest speakers who shared their life-experiences and providing invaluable tips. I also learned from my teammates through interactions, and knowledge spill over. I am so glad, I participated in this program, and forged lasting relationships with some amazing people who are truly invested in the welfare of our awesome Cardinia Shire Community.” - Harry, Program Graduate 

“My experience with the Cardinia Community Leadership Program has led to some great community connections, friendships and understanding of what I can achieve within my role in the community as an SES volunteer. I highly recommend this program for anyone who has a leadership role in our community.” - Dee, Program Graduate 

Contact the Community Development Facilitator on 1300 787 624 or