A triumphant return to Sydney!

28 June 2012

NSW State Office hosted a four day BRIDGE workshop for Introduction to Electoral Administration from 5 June to 8 June 2012.The workshop provided an opportunity for 20 participants to experience a professional development program.  The workshop was tailored to suit the experience level of the participants as they are all currently employed by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

The participants (12 female and 8 male) are employed in various positions within the AEC with 17 from NSW, 2 from Queensland and 1 from Victoria.

This workshop also provided an opportunity for three semi accredited facilitators from NSW (Peter Hunter, Denise Hogarth and Dimity McKenzie) to attempt to become fully accredited BRIDGE workshop facilitators.

The workshop flowed from starting to get to know each other and then tentatively with participants sharing electoral experience, ideas and views. The ‘learner’ facilitators became more confident and started to become a cohesive team with the accrediting facilitator -Gordon Marshall’s guidance.

The final three days of the workshop passed in a whirl of activities, discussion, reflection and healthy debate. The participants learnt from each other as well as the material introduced while challenging their own perceptions under the guidance of the facilitators. Each day the participant feedback confirmed that the workshop was successful in exceeding all expectations.

The final day came too quickly with certificates presented and friendships locked in place, it was time to return home with a greater appreciation of ‘our’ electoral management body (AEC) and a greater understanding of other electoral management bodies.

Participant Feedback:

“I have enjoyed the whole week of the BRIDGE course and would advise people to jump on board. I have gained knowledge that I can take back to the divisional office. It will make me look at things differently.”

“The BRIDGE course is invaluable for continuous professional development for AEC staff. The grounding in electoral theory plus the creative method of thinking about the theory through practical group activities is wonderful.”

“Really good! Overall the course has been informative, useful and loads of fun. The group has been great to be part of and the knowledge and experiences helped build the course. I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to be included!”

Facilitator Reflections

Wow!!! After a nervous start the workshop was just amazing. Each day the participants raised the bar on engagement, willingness to contribute and creativity. The most rewarding time was realising on reflection the journey that was undertaken by us all. Everyone had taken the opportunity to explore beyond their boundaries and share ideas and experiences with the group.  It is still hard to believe such a variety of approaches, opinions and ideas can come from a group all working for the same organisation.

The enthusiasm and inclusiveness of the group, ability to hear and explore a variety of viewpoints and willingness to step outside comfort zones was outstanding. There were moments of hilarity in the course, and moments of great seriousness, and everything in between. The overriding experience though was of a truly educational journey on many levels, and one which enhances the professionalism of both the participants, including the facilitators, and of the agency as a whole. We have all come away better equipped to analyse our own practices and experience and appreciate them in the wider context of governance internationally.

I must admit that I was a little nervous going in to Day 1 of the course. Uncertainty about the course content/structure and questions around how actively the attendees would participate in the course were buzzing around in my head. From very early on, the majority of these fears were allayed. The participants took to the course with enthusiasm and with the feedback they provided throughout the week, the co-facilitators were able to mould the course to meet their needs. My personal satisfaction coming out of the course is primarily as a result of the active input the participants had to make it the success that it turned out to be.     

And yes!!!!   We are now Bridge Workshop Facilitators!

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