For 20 years, we have brought our State’s top leaders, decision-makers and influencers to regional WA, to experience first-hand the reality of living and working in the regions.

Over 3 days, our 38 Signature leaders had a unique opportunity to connect with those who call the south of WA home. They learnt more about regional life, gained an understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the region, and the community initiatives in play as they continue to shape a better WA.

The cohort heard from exceptional speakers and discovered the operations of sites including, Narrogin Hospital, Boyup Brook Community Resource Centre, CBH Group Metro Grain Centre in Forrestfield and learnt about the important history and emotional significance of Bindjareb Park.

The group spent time at the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ Bushfire Centre of Excellence and heard from Russell Wells, District Officer Training Delivery and Craig Garrett, Superintendent – Training. They shared the tactile training they offer for bushfire management and explained the challenges with leadership in the dynamic bushfire sector.

At the start of day 2, participants toured Katanning Sheep Saleyards and heard from Rod Bushell, Saleyards Manager and Bruce Mullan (Signature 2017), Former Principal Research Scientist at the Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development. Rod and Bruce highlighed concerns around the future of the sheep trade, the wider impact and highlighted the value of mentoring future farmers in an evolving industry with growing skill demands.

Denise Gallanagh Wood, Manager of Community Development at the Shire of Katanning, spoke to participants about challenges facing the community including, housing, climate resilience, education opportunities, skilled worker attraction and retention.

The cohort listened to an insightful Agriculture Panel made up of current participants Gemma Walker, Business Owner at Hamilton Downs, Sam Messina, Administration Officer at Spring Park Farms and Simon Wallwork (Signature 2023), Partner at Hacienda De Trigo. The panel explained the varying roles of farmers, how diverse technology developments are for the sector and shared concerns around climate change, cost of land, corporatisation of farming and sustainability.

To round off the day, Rhys Williams (Signature 2023), Mayor, City of Mandurah and current participant, Julian Canny, CEO of Euphorium spoke to participants about ways we can help our local communities.

After travelling to Collie Ridge Resort on day 3, the cohort heard from Cate Brooks, Director of the Collie Delivery Unit at Department of the Premier and Cabinet of WA, Matt Young, Director Development Services at Shire of Collie, Liz Baggetta, Head of Transition – Thermal Generation at Synergy and Brent Italiano, Head of Coal at Synergy. 

Cate provided an insight into Collie and spoke about the ‘just transition’ - a place-based, community led and internationally endorsed framework driven by government, unions, industry and the community as a key part of redeveloping Collie. Matt spoke about Collie’s increasing economic diversification, working with community businesses, and shared Collie’s development plans including, industry, housing and tourism.

Liz and Brent talked about the transition away from coal energy and explained that the principle of transition is to ensure that nobody is left behind.

On the return journey to Perth, a final stop was made at the CBH Group Metro Grain Centre in Forrestfield, where participants toured the facility and heard career insights from their Head of Operations, David Paton.


We thank our Signature Leadership Program regional partners, TransWA, CBH Group, Department of Fire and Emergency Services, WA Country Health Service, and the Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development for kindly supporting this three-day regional experience.

Thank you to our venue hosts, Bindjareb Park, Synergy, Shire of Katanning, and Boyup Brook Community Centre.

We also thank our scholarship sponsors: CBH Group, Grower Group Alliance, Department of the Premier and Cabinet of WA and Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.