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Connexus : Issue 38
www.abacus.org.au 66 Connexus COMMUNITY Next year’s CUFA Kokoda Leadership Challenge will have special significance for its participants because 2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the battle of Kokoda. In July and August 1942, Australian troops left Port Moresby, trekked through Owers’ Corner, up the Golden Stairs and past the many villages along the 96-kilometre Kokoda Track. The ensuing battle was Australia’s equivalent to the Alamo; a last stand before Japanese forces reached Australia. The equipment-laden Australians trekked over rugged jungle terrain, engaged in fierce fighting and eventually turned back a determined enemy. They were asked to do what seemed impossible and they succeeded through courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice. In 2009, I was in the group of 10 credit union and building society representatives who walked the famous Papua New Guinean track for the personal experience, to raise funds and to support CUFA. The five men and five women in the group were from different backgrounds and different career paths, but what we went through both mentally and physically helped me understand the true meaning of friendship and teamwork. It rained seven out of the nine days on our journey while we climbed and descended steep mountain ranges, crossed raging rivers with the aid of a log, waded through waist-deep water and coped with ankle-deep mud day after day. Sometimes every step was a struggle. Along the way, it was very moving to stand at battle sites where Australians had fought and died. Places like Isurava, where 24-year-old Bruce Kingsburg won his Victoria Cross, Brigade Hill, Eora Creek, Ioribaiwa Ridge and Kokoda village itself. We weren’t heroes like the Kokoda veterans, but we formed a solid bond that will last all our lives as we helped each other achieve our goal. The 2012 Kokoda Leadership Challenge is from August 9 to 20. It is a unique opportunity to send someone from your organisation to acknowledge the 70th anniversary of an event of great significance to Australia’s history and pride as a nation. For more information, visit w w w.cufa.com.au/kokoda or contact Anne Casey on (02) 8299 9270 or by emailing: anne. firstname.lastname@example.org – Brian Bennett is the CEO of Encompass Credit Union. in the footsteps of heroes The Kokoda Leadership Challenge is always an unforgettable experience, but next year’s trek has extra meaning. By Brian Bennett “...what we went through... helped me understand the true meaning of friendship and teamwork.” The 2009 CUFA Pacific Leadership Challenge participants.