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Meet the trainer: Patrick Moriarty

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What courses and webinars do you teach for Our Community?

Everything from the Diploma of Business (Governance) to the webinars on fundraising, meetings and planning. I also deliver tailored training specific to any organisation's requirements, work on board reviews, and facilitate strategic planning sessions. I think if it's been delivered, I've delivered it.

What's your own involvement in the community sector?

Historically I've been involved in things my kids have been involved with, whether they've been at childcare, pre-school or schools, or playing sports. I've also supported issues I'm concerned about, including mental health, inclusion and rural issues. The travel I do for work means I haven't sat actively on a board for a few years, but I still provide voluntary support to several subcommittees

What's your teaching style?

Structured flexibility. By that I mean I have a basic framework based on what I expect attendees want and need from the workshop, but I can divert to other issues as they arise, within reason, if they fit the topic. I find that if trainers "park" those issues, people tend to forget the original context in which they've arisen.

How do you like to be taught?

I'm a visual learner, so I like to see things in action or in practice.

What's the most memorable thing anyone's ever said in one of your training sessions?

A couple of months ago I ran arts governance training in Mandurah with Country Arts WA. As part of the training I asked two questions: "Who would miss you if you didn't exist?" and "What would be lost if you didn't exist?" These are two questions boards should ask themselves.

One of the participants, Fiona Sinclair from Southern Forest Arts, remarked that it would be interesting to move away from the deficit view and to ask instead, "What would be gained if you didn't exist?".

She explained, "I live in a forest. When a large tree falls over, it creates an opening in the canopy for light to shine through upon the seedlings and saplings waiting underneath for their moment to grow. There is a time for all things. Sometimes it's healthier for the whole ecosystem to let go of the old to make way for the new."

It's a profoundly different perspective, one that I'm now using in training too.

You've run Our Community training sessions in Kununurra, Canberra, Darwin, Cairns and Alice Springs, among other places. Where else would you most like to run a course, and why?

Broome - for two reasons.

First, I've never been there, although our other trainers have.

Second, it's a part of Australia that faces problems related to boom-and-bust cycles and a transient population. The Northern Territory and far north Queensland face similar issues, and it would be great to transfer what we know from running training in those parts of the world to Broome to see whether it would work up there. We've recently completed some work in Karratha, too, and I'd like to see how the work we did there might be relevant.

If you couldn't be a trainer, what would you like to be?

A Collingwood premiership coach. I reckon I'm a chance.

Anything else you'd like to tell us?

My favourite quote was passed on to me by Hayden Brown, a social researcher at the City of Greater Dandenong, many years ago: "If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything."

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