A YEAR'S reprieve will provide some certainty to a program training people to advocate for their communities, including six who have gone on to become mayors.
Yet funding remains unclear past 2020, LEAD Loddon Murray executive officer Leah Sertori says.
The group trains emerging leaders to advocate for their communities.
"That matters because community leaders are the ones who most often represent the views of their community to policy makers, large businesses and local governments," Ms Sertori said.
The state government recently broke with its normal practice of funding LEAD Loddon Murray in four-year cycles, and the group had been concerned about the future of its funding, she said.
The government has now agreed to extend funding with an extra $200,000.
It is "great news", Ms Sertori said, with LEAD Loddon Murray planning to refresh its programs during the reprieve and build a case for governments to continue investing in rural leadership skills.
Half of the group's budget is funded by the state government, she said. The rest is paid for by sponsorship from the private sector.
Past program graduates have gone on to bring skilled workers into the region, including Filipino migrants for agriculture in Pyramid Hill, she said.
They have also contributed to Bendigo's multicultural services sector, helped guide the dairy industry through major water pricing changes and developed business communities across central Victoria, she said.
A government spokesperson confirmed funding for 10 regional community leadership programs across the state had been extended recently.
"We're supporting training and development opportunities right across the state, building resilience and leadership capabilities in our country communities," they said.
"We recognise the work that regional community leadership programs do, and we want to work with each of the programs over the next 12 months and discuss their plans to continue serving their communities."
Training rural and regional leaders will become more important as Melbourne's population grows, Ms Sertori said.
"Melbourne is growing to be a globally relevant city in Asia with potentially eight or 10 million residents. It's going to get harder for rural and regional communities to argue for the infrastructure and investment they need," she said.
Country areas relied more heavily on smaller networks of volunteers than those in big cities, she said.
"They depend on each other to staff the CFA, to run sporting and recreational clubs and provide safety nets with the Salvation Army and other groups for people going through a difficult time," Ms Sertori said.
"Investing in people's skills and their networks - to make sure they feel well-supported and can continue - is vitally important.
"Otherwise they burn-out."
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