A south-west leadership initiative has voiced its disappointment after funding was cut from its flagship program.
Warrnambool's Leadership Great South Coast (LGSC) will no longer receive government subsidies for its Regional Community Leadership Program from the end of June.
It's one of nine organisations across Victoria to offer the program, with two thirds of its budget funded by the state government.
LGSC chair Jessica Fishburn said the group was weighing up its options at the precipice of losing the majority of the program's funding.
"We can confirm that the 2023 cohort won't be impacted," she told The Standard.
"For 2024, we're reassessing."
LGSC's annual Regional Community Leadership Program aims to build leadership skills through project management, public speaking and volunteering.
The program is best known for its community projects such as Loved and Shared, a now-standalone charity that was originally a project of the 2019 cohort.
LGSC also helped establish the Ngatanwarr mural on Warrnambool TAFE and the Indigenous war memorial on the Heywood Water Tower.
The initiative has produced 168 alumni over its 10-year spell, many of whom have taken up senior leadership roles.
"Graduates have gone on to be community leaders in grassroot sporting clubs right through to being members on state and national corporate boards," Ms Fishburn said.
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With the program now spanning across Warrnambool, Moyne, Corangamite, Glenelg and the Southern Grampians, Ms Fishburn said the organisation was "not 100 per cent sure" why funding had been cut.
"The state government is perhaps wanting a bit more community support for the programs and obviously it was a very fiscal budget in terms of reducing costs wherever possible," she said.
"We're seeing that across the state and very much locally."
Ms Fishburn said LGSC would likely be hurt more by the cut than other regional community leadership programs across the state.
"Some of them have a little bit more corporate backing from big business," she said.
"We're one of the youngest programs as well, some of the others have been running for 20 or 30 years."
Two years ago, the project was moved from a multi-year funding agreement to being funded year to year.
Ms Fishburn said this was an indicator the program was at risk of a budget cut, although the group had already been seeking alternate ways to raise revenue.
"We're looking for more funding than we have had because we've been running on a shoestring budget," she said.
While the initiative has been trying to limit its reliance on the government, funding from the community or philanthropic efforts has not been secured yet.
"We've had some really amazing support from the community and from local businesses and we just need that to continue," Ms Fishburn said.
LGSC executive officer Kate Roache said it was important the program continued as volunteer rates were so low.
"It's a good time to reflect and refresh and consider where the community are at with Leadership Great South Coast," she said.
"That's a process that we need to take our time with."
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