Marcus Oldham College

Rural Leadership Program Details

What do leaders really do?

They don't make plans; they don't solve problems; they don't even organise people.

What a good leader really does is prepare the people and the organisation for change
and helps them cope as they struggle through the change

  MORLP - Program Brochure 2017 MORLP - Program Brochure 2017  (1846 KB)

  MORLP - Helping young people develop skills to become leaders in the agricultural sector MORLP - Helping young people develop skills to become leaders in the agricultural sector  (452 KB)

The Program
Participant Selection
Program Leaders
Program Fee 
What Others Say
Australian Beef Industry Foundation Scholarship
Further Information


The Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership Program commenced in 1992 and is one of the longest running and most highly regarded rural leadership programs in the nation. It has developed a strong reputation in the agricultural and agribusiness sector, attracting support from a wide range of industry and rural community groups from a diverse regional backgrounds.

The industries represented include livestock grazing for meat and fiber, broad acre summer and winter cropping, dairy production, poppy production, cotton production, horticulture, apiary and a range of agribusiness support agencies.

With an average of approximately 35 participants per course, there are in excess of 780 graduates from the Program across Australia. A number of these graduates are now representing their industries or rural communities at the decision making level in the board rooms of both community and industry groups.

The Program is an intensive five-day residential conducted on the College campus at Geelong, commencing on the last Sunday in June each year.


To seek to develop the skills and knowledge of participants to enable them:
  • To undertake a leadership role in their industry or community
  • To competently represent their industry or community in decision making forums
  • To understand and address the issues facing rural industries and rural communities

  • To develop the leadership, communication and planning skills of individuals in the Program, through their participation in a process of self-discovery, skills training, knowledge building and team development
  • To provide opportunities for participants to network with keynote speakers from industry and the community

The Program

The five-day workshop involves facilitators who have both the training skills and empathy to understand the issues facing rural industry and rural communities, and industry background to assist in the development of solutions.

Training sessions include:
  • Goal Setting
  • Developing action plans
  • Leadership and team building
  • Community leadership
  • Learning and communication including
  • public speaking and working with the media
  • Understanding self and others
  • Negotiation

Formal dinners during the week provide the opportunity for the participants to hear and debate the views of keynote speakers on a range of issues, which have relevance for rural and regional Australia. Issues such as impact of climate change, water as a natural resource, building regional and rural communities, and native title legislation have been debated during previous Programs. The dinners offer the opportunity to access these speakers and their views - an opportunity which may not be available in a regional or rural community.

The Leadership Program features an Industry dinner. The dinner enables participants, industry supporters and a number of invited guests to be challenged and uplifted by keynote speakers sharing their views on current industry issues. The dinner also provides the opportunity for the participants to network with the industry supporters and industry guests.

2017 Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership Program NAB Agribusiness Industry Dinner will be held on Thursday 29 June 2017

Participant Selection

Participants are selected on their potential to contribute as a leader in their community and industry, and a demonstrated desire to develop their leadership skills, self-confidence and personal effectiveness.

Marcus Oldham College maintains a flexible policy in relation to selection of participants for the Rural Leadership Program.

Guiding selection principles;

  • Minimum of 21 years of age
  • No maximum age
  • Some leadership experience required
  • Diverse industry, sectors and role representation
  • Women and people from diverse ethnic backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply

Nominations are called for in March of each year through the College website and the press.

  MORLP - Nomination Form 2017 MORLP - Nomination Form 2017  (419 KB)

Program Leaders

David Cornish - Program Director

Mike Stephens
Mike is the founding Director of Meridian Agriculture a major agribusiness consultancy group with a client base in southern Australia.
Mike has 20 years experience in human resource management and provides consulting advice to major agribusiness companies. In addition to a large number of rural clients, Meridian Agriculture provides project management and training for a wide range of agricultural organisations including Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation, Land and Water Australia and Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Mike is one of the founding members of Working With People Pty Ltd, which is experienced in delivering the Working In Groups (WIG) workshops for Meat & Livestock Australia. Over 2,500 people have been trained by the Working With People Company and their record in delivering the WIG’s program to a standard above all expectation, speaks for itself.

Mike has been involved in the design, delivery and management of the Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership Program since it's commencement.

Program Fee

The registration fee includes tuition, notes, accommodation and all meals for the five-day program. A fully refundable fee is required upon nomination. The registration fee is advised on the course Application Form.

What Others Say

"I really enjoyed a thoroughly stimulating and challenging course. The program provided an opportunity to explore leadership qualities, styles, strengths and weaknesses. I particularly appreciated the networking with other farming men and women, to learn more about different commodity groups and the worries they face".
Jennifer Grigg - Grain Grower - Hopetoun, Victoria

“The course for me has been one of the most stimulating, engaging and just down right pleasurable experiences. The choice of presenters over the 5 days of the course was fantastic and for all of them I couldn’t get enough – I could go back for more. The course has been of great benefit in enabling me to identify and to plan where we are going both as a family and as a business”
John Waterhouse - Vingeron and Livestock Producer, Yark Victoria

"What an absolutely brilliant week, what a fantastic course! Not only did I achieve so much through the course but also from the great mixture of people from other backgrounds and industries. I think I learnt more about other Australian agricultural industries in the five days I spent at Marcus than from any other course I have been associated with."
Kerrie Richards - Merino Wool Producer/Manufacturer - Richmond, Queensland

"As an employee of the Department of Agriculture, I have been fortunate enough to participate in a number of training courses - none has been as valuable as the Rural Leadership Program. The Program provided the perfect blend of theory and take-home, ready to use practical skills and information. The speakers were excellent and were very well complemented by having a diverse range of views and industries represented by course participants."
Jason Leeman - Dairy Extension Officer - Echuca, Victoria

"The best experience I have had yet. It will take a lot to outdo this five day leadership program. Great speakers, terrific people from a diverse range of industries and dynamic information to take us into the 21st Century."
Jeanette Reader - Tasmanian Women in Agriculture - Longford, Tasmania

"An outstanding opportunity to amalgamate various industries under one banner and work towards a unified vision for rural Australia"
Tony Thompson - Cotton Grower - Bourke, New South Wales

Australian Beef Industry Foundation Scholarship

the Australian Beef Industry Foundation (ABIF) together with Fairfax Rural Media (Fairfax) are offering the opportunity for two people involved in the beef supply chain, aged between 21 and 40 to attend a one-week Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership program at the Marcus Oldham College in Geelong, Victoria at the end of June 2017.

Who is eligible?
• Applicants must be between the ages of 21-40 years in the year the scholarship is awarded.
• Applicants must be an Australian citizen.
• Preference will be given to those in or going into commercial cattle production

Conditions of applications
• Applicants must be available to attend the course 26 June to 1 July.
• An applicant who has previously attended the Marcus Oldham Leadership Course in this or any other capacity is ineligible for this scholarship.

Administration of scholarship
• ABIF and Fairfax will be offering financial support and Marcus Oldham College providing the course.
• ABIF and Fairfax will form a panel of independent local people to assess the applications.
• The panel members must not be related by family or employment to the applicants.

Selection process
• All applications will be strictly confidential.
• Assessment of all criteria will provide information toward selection.
• If in the opinion of the selection panel no suitable application is received, the scholarship will not be awarded.
• The decision of the panel will be final and a majority ruling applies.

Selection criteria– please limit responses to approx. 150 words
1. History of education and/or employment.
2. Explain how this course would be useful in your current and/or future work plans
3. How can you see yourself using the skills learnt in this course to benefit the beef industry, and/or its people and
/or your community?
4. Any other information about yourself you think we should know about to help your application.

Additional information:
• Name:
• Date of birth:
• Copy of proof of Australian residency: (birth certificate, passport etc..)
• Phone number:
• Email address:
• Current postal and living address:
• Current employer’s name and work address:

Details of the program are available at

If you would like to discuss the opportunity please call John Gunthorpe, Chairman of ABIF on:
0400 403 456

All applicants will be advised of the outcome so that arrangements can be made.

Further Information

David Cornish

Application Enquiries - Jenny Hendricks

Phone: (03) 5247 2901
Fax: (03) 5244 1263

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