In October 2011 the Australian Electoral Commission commenced the first Rising to Management (R2M) program.This program is designed to build the capability of AEC staff who have shown potential as future leaders and managers. There are twenty participants on the program from all over Australia and from different areas within the AEC. The R2M program is delivered over a ten month period with the participants coming together in Sydney every two months for a two and a half day residential where they explore topics such as communication, leading people, ethical decision making and delegating.
A core component of the program was the inclusion of the BRIDGE Introduction to Electoral Administration module. The five day agenda was selected and modified to complement the other topics the participants would be exploring. For the first time BRIDGE days were not conducted consecutively. One full day of each residential was dedicated to BRIDGE, this meant there was two months between each ‘day’ of BRIDGE.
This presented challenges for facilitators in ensuring participants remembered the work they had covered on the previous day (two months ago!!) in order to link learning for the participants. It was decided early that there would one facilitator who would conduct every BRIDGE day and guest facilitators were used to co-facilitate. This worked extremely well for the participants as they had one person to provide them with continuity and the guest facilitators to provide different experiences and perspectives.
Guest facilitators included Stuart Fraser, Chris Morris, Cate Thompson, Ross Attrill and Daniela Capaccio-Lauw. Each one of these facilitators provided wonderful insight and experiences to enrich the learning of the participants. Their commitment and passion for BRIDGE is evident in their enthusiasm for the delivery of the program.
The first R2M program concluded in August 2012 where all participants were presented with their certificate of completion for the Intro module at a graduation dinner. Following are comments from participants on how they felt about their BRIDGE experience:
• I found the comparison between elections systems very interesting – considering the diversity, and how they all have strengths and weaknesses. I would be interested to read articles (which I will look for) as to any evolutionary aspect to elections systems as different countries progress from new to established democracies.
• Bridge is still a real highlight for me. I’m not sure if it is the passionate and enthusiastic presenters or just a real sense of pride that I get from being part of an agency that plays such a vital role in ensuring free and fair elections around the world.
The second R2M program commenced in May 2012 and is due to be completed in April 2013 and is using the same model for delivering BRIDGE as the first program. This has been an interesting and unique way of delivering a BRIDGE module however all facilitators and participants have found it positive and rewarding.