Coolabunia farmer and former South Burnett Councillor Damien Tessmann . . . taking in a high-level rural leadership course

March 26, 2020

Former South Burnett councillor Damien Tessmann will be developing his leadership skills even more after being selected for a spot in the elite Australian Rural Leadership Program.

Damien – a former Queensland Young Nationals president and LNP Wide Bay regional chairman – is one of 31 people from around Australia who will take part in the 15-month immersion program.

The ALRP has been run by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation for 27 years.

The program is spread across five sessions which will take place around Australia and Asia – although the start has been delayed due to COVID-19.

The course aims to develop the communication skills of participants, along with strategic thinking and the capability of leading in different contexts.

Participants will visit Darwin, the Kimberleys, Vietnam and Canberra.

“This program is underpinned by the belief that developing leaders is crucial for the greater good of rural, regional and remote Australia. This is even more important given the unfolding COVID-19 health crisis as these communities will look to their leaders to recover and rebuild,” chief executive Matt Linnegar said.

“During the program the participants will develop as stronger leaders by challenging their own behaviours, thinking and actions, and those of others. They will develop relationships to form a network of supportive leaders.”

Damien, a Coolabunia dairy farmer, was a strong voice in last year’s campaign to end $1-a-litre retail milk pricing in supermarkets and is being sponsored by Dairy Australia to complete the ARLP program.

In 2013, he was part of an Australian Political Exchange Council delegation to the United States and in 2018 took part in Dairy Australia’s “Developing Dairy Leaders” program, a course considered a first step towards holding a senior position in the industry.

Back in 2006 – when he was just 19 – Damien also stood (unsuccessfully) for the National Party in the State seat of Maryborough but was elected to the newly formed South Burnett Regional Council two years later where he represented Division 3 until he challenged unsuccessfully for the mayoralty at the 2016 poll.

Other nearby aspiring rural leaders who will be taking part in the ARLP course include Alison Mobbs, from Mobbs Cattle Co in Bell; and former Kingaroy businesswoman Trudi Bartlett, now based in Dalby.

Senator Susan McDonald campaigning for fair milk prices with dairy farmers in 2019 … from left,  Damien Tessmann (Kingaroy), Craig Brook (Beaudesert) and Brad Teese (Beaudesert) (Photo: Supplied)

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