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Rural women come together to promote agriculture 04 May 2012

Not happy with the public perception of agriculture in recent times Western Australia’s RIRDC Rural Women’s Award Winner, Catherine Marriott decided to do something about it.

Catherine organised last week’s ‘Influential Women’s Forum’, held in Broome in northern Western Australia.

The Forum brought together 50 rural women from across Australia to not only celebrate the role women play in agriculture, but to also learn how best to collaborate between rural industries and to better communicate and engage with consumers.

“With global food security and competition for land use, understanding and building relationships between producers and consumers is becoming increasingly important,” Catherine said.

“Primary producers need the support of consumers and consumers need primary producers, but it’s impossible to support something you don’t understand, so primary producers need to become better at communicating and engaging with consumers.”

One of the highlights of the workshop was an address by Charlie Arnot, Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Food Integrity in the United States.

“Charlie Arnot has a very powerful and important message for Australia’s producers. His research has conclusively demonstrated that building confidence and shared values with consumers is up to five times more effective than demonstrating your scientific or economic credentials,” Catherine said.

“That is why the Forum was held - to give rural people the skills and tools to communicate effectively and to build their confidence to get out there and advocate on behalf of agriculture.”

As a result of the Rural Women’s Award, Catherine will now roll out Influential Women’s Forums across Australia.

Catherine is based at Kununurra and is intimately involved in the northern Australian beef industry. She consults in pastoral training and leadership capacity building both within Australia and in Asia to a number of companies and private clients involved in the northern cattle industry.

Catherine is a recent graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program, a committee member of RRR Network, an active member of the Country Women’s Association and a volunteer ambulance office with St John’s Ambulance Australia.

The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award is Australia’s pre-eminent award for rural women. The Award supports women with demonstrated leadership capabilities who have the desire and commitment to make an even greater contribution to their industries and communities.

State and Territory winners will receive a $10,000 financial bursary to implement their Award vision and State and Territory winners and runners up will have the opportunity to undertake the Australian Institute of Company Directors Company Directors Course and be supported with 12 months of facilitated individual strategic leadership support.

Media enquiries:
Damon Whittock - RIRDC Public Affairs Manager - ph. 02 6271 4175.
Interviews: Catherine Marriott – ph. 0400 129 279 or Edwina Clowes (RIRDC Rural Women’s Award National Coordinator) – ph. 0417 727 544.