Working better together for your community 

When the heat is on and the flood waters are rising, we step up and pitch in. We find ways to do what’s needed to support those around us. 

In the wake of those moments, we have the chance to find a little space to focus on how we’re working together to make meaningful change happen in the world. 

The Grass Tree Fellowship is a community-focused leadership initiative supported by a Commonwealth and NSW Government grant, to empower the doers among us.



Conservation Volunteers Australia has partnered with two skilled guides (Lina Patel and Matt Wicking) to offer these special learning programs for people who have a connection to the Richmond Valley, Tweed, and Blue Mountains regions. 

Through a facilitated experience built around a series of retreats and evening workshops, participants will be offered several pathways for growth and learning – all with the aim of creating stronger, healthier communities and ecosystems for all. 


This Richmond Valley and Tweed regions program is currently underway, and no further applications can be accepted.


The Richmond Valley and Tweed Grass Tree Fellowship program

The program includes the following skills training
  • Getting stuff done – project management for doers
  • Working with groups – facilitation skills for working well with other people
  • Motivating others – getting the most from your community of support
  • Seeking support – resourcing your project with grants, funding and other support


At the same time, opportunities are created to explore questions like

  • How do we respond to urgent times with slowness and purpose?
  • How lightly might we hold the heavy things we experience?
  • How do we build healing places, teams and lives by shifting from ‘self-help’ to ‘community care’?
  • How do we live in line with the truth that we are Country?
  • How might we live and work differently by better understanding the impacts of power and structural forces in shaping our world?
  • How can we learn to move at the speed of trust?

Think of this as a way of investing in working better together. Individuals can benefit from the supportive experience through a group setting. Either way, we offer space, time and a structured process to support people to work on the ways we show up for ourselves, each other, our communities, and for Country.  


How it works

Put simply, CVA’s Grass Tree Fellowship supports participants to:  

  • Feel empowered  
  • Get projects thriving 
  • Clarify values and nurture strengths, and set goals 
  • Develop skills to support future success including, working in groups, facilitating gatherings, managing collaborative projects, seeking support and motivating others to take action  
This program is FREE for participants.

To reduce barriers to getting involved, places are fully funded by a Commonwealth and NSW Government grant. This includes all retreat accommodation, retreat meals, and workshop materials. Only the cost of travel to and from retreats is covered by participants. Additional financial support can be provided if cost is a barrier to participation. 

The elements
  • 2 residential weekend retreats for deeper connection and growth
  • 5 online evening workshops to make progress and learn new ideas
  • Curated readings and resources to inform and inspire
  • Optional peer support activities and other events
The format
  1. The program is delivered for people who have a connection to the Richmond Valley and Tweed regions.  
  2. A welcome dinner introduces participants to the facilitators (guides) for a group of up to 20 fellow participants. 
  3. The Fellowship officially begins with a 2.5-day retreat.
  4. Five fortnightly online evening classes are followed by opportunities for peer-to-peer connection and support. There, peer group discuss learnings, develop and work on ideas, find collaborators, support each other, and explore what’s most important to each individual.   
  5. Each program concludes with second retreat 


Applications for the Blue Mountains program will open in April 2023.

Learn more




This leadership program was created for community members, with community input and feedback built into the design. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were strongly encouraged to apply.


About the trainers

Lina Patel is a poet and facilitator. Her mission is to alleviate needless workplace suffering and bring more kindness into the world, one team at a time. Lina works with people who value positive social outcomes and want to improve how they work. She particularly enjoys working with groups to set good foundations so they don’t get burned out. Lina’s specialty is getting things done, calmly. 

Matt Wicking is an experienced facilitator, host and artist who understands the power of great facilitation and meaningful moments for creating change. Matt works with energy, intelligence and care to support progressive groups to amplify their impact. He has spent many years supporting communities and organisations who want to create a future that’s more just, stable, and kind. 

Together, Lina and Matt regularly collaborate to design and deliver programs and projects full of insight, delight and kindness. They have run award-winning sustainability leadership programs, supported purpose-driven organisations, built thriving teams, assisted communities to effectively engage government – and are honoured to have the opportunity to work with people in the Richmond Valley, Tweed Shire and Blue Mountains communities at this important moment. 


The Grass Tree Fellowship and its origins

Conservation Volunteers Australia has been talking with rural communities affected by challenges such as bushfire and flood, and learning what’s most important to them.   

Most wanted help to: start or manage projects; source support and apply for grants effectively; motivate and upskill volunteers while supporting community connectedness while upskilling volunteers; build on existing programs that are working; and improve environmental recovery efforts. Above all, they wanted to feel less overwhelmed and more in control of their futures.  


Project Team

This project is managed by the Wild Futures Team: Kavitha Chinathamby (Project Manager), Renae Riviere (Campaign Director), Jessica Miller (Campaign Director) and Shonnelle Post (Project Officer). 



The Restore bushland and enrich local leadership project is jointly funded by the Australian and the NSW Government under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.


NSW government









Conservation Volunteers Australia respectfully acknowledges Traditional Owners and Indigenous Peoples, their rich and dynamic cultures and their continuing unique affinity and cultural obligations for land and sea. We pay our respect to them and their cultures, and to elders both past and present.