The retreat aimed at giving emerging leaders skills, confidence and access to networks to effectively campaign and advocate for the LGBTI community.
One of the sessions during the two-day retreat was hosted by Natasha Joyce, co-chair of the Bendigo Says Yes movement.
Bendigo Says Yes led the campaign locally in support of marriage equality during the 2017 postal survey, one of the key aspects of the Bendigo Says Yes campaign, Ms Joyce told the leadership retreat, was “relentless positivity”.
Those involved also set out a series of goals and actions at their very first meeting, which fell under the categories of online engagement, personal engagement and community engagement.
She said it came down to engaging with consistency, via conversations, and with care.
A key skill of being a leader, she said, was finding out what people enjoyed and what they were good at, and identifying ways to harness those aptitudes to achieve goals.
Another speaker was Jodie Lyons, who is involved in a number of initiatives within the LGBTI community and works with the government on community outreach.
She spoke about how leaders need to remember their purpose to keep themselves going, and finding support to keep growing as leaders.
One of the participants in the weekend’s retreat was Alicia Gunston, secretary of La Trobe University’s LGBTI club, Rainbow Eagles.
She said she and the president attended the retreat to solidify the club’s purpose, find new ways to communicate what the club was doing, and come up with ways to get the club more involved in the wider Bendigo community.
Ms Gunston said the club had come back into force this semester after a hiatus and it had helped her connect to the Bendigo community, so she wanted other people to feel that way.
When it comes to challenges facing LGBTI leaders, Ms Lyons told the Bendigo Advertiser many issues such as fear of putting oneself out there and finding the right support networks were not unique, but they were very common.
Ms Gunston said that unlike leaders in other spheres, the rights of members of the LGBTI community were still being challenged.