Finalists announced for 2013 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award 11 Apr 2013

Seven inspirational women from around Australia have been announced as finalists for the 2013 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award, with each now in the running to be announced as the Award’s national winner.

Each finalist – one from each state and the Northern Territory – will receive a $10,000 bursary to assist them implement a project or “vision” that will benefit rural people or rural industries.

The Award also provides the state winners and runners-up with personal and professional development opportunities, including access to a network of Award alumni mentors and a Company Directors course run by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

The national winner will be announced in October at the 2013 RIRDC Rural Women's Award National Celebratory Dinner, to be held at Parliament House in Canberra. 

The 2013 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award state winners are: 

Tasmania state winner – Katie Coad
Katie from Margate, who is also State President of Rural Youth, won the Tasmanian Award for her vision to deliver the Kids Ag Awareness Program (KAAP), which focuses on education and activities based on the importance of agriculture.  The project will initially introduce the Kids Ag Awareness Program at the Tasmania Agfest Field Days with the hope of expanding the program to allow a greater number of children to access its resources and messages.  

Victoria state winner – Michelle Freeman
Michelle Freeman is a forester from Alexandria and has a vision to instigate change in the culture and diversity of the forest industry. She hopes to do this through engaging women and youth more effectively and empowering them to step forward as the next generation of industry leaders. Michelle will visit key forest industry locations across Australia and run capacity-building workshops and engagement activities targeted at youth and women.   

Western Australia state winner – Danielle England 
Danielle England is an agricultural consultant and farmer from Narrogin with a passion for innovation. Danielle will use the $10,000 bursary to undertake a study tour of New Zealand’s North Island to explore how the agricultural industries there have maintained international competitiveness through innovation. Danielle will develop a report on the role extension plays in identifying and managing change, and how private extension providers work with industry funding partners and research agencies to improve the delivery of rural extension. 

South Australia state winner – Anna Hooper
Anna Hooper, a winemaker from Mt Benson, will investigate the environmental performance of Australian wine compared to global competitors and then generate ideas for improvement. Anna’s project will see her travel to countries such as New Zealand, the USA and South Africa which have successfully developed environmental sustainability programs to guide viticultural and winemaking practices and assist with marketing their wine products.

Northern Territory state winner – Giovanna Webb
Giovanna Webb is originally from Colombia in South America, but for the past 16 years has lived in Darwin where she runs her family company which is involved in the breeding and growing of crocodiles and the marketing of crocodile products. Her project is to provide one-to-one training to a small group of Indigenous women in the crocodile industry to expand their skills and employment vision; encourage other women, by example, to also take up the training; foster integration and inclusion within the work-place; and reduce reliance on government financial support.

Queensland state winner – Alison Fairleigh
Alison Fairleigh from Ayr in Queensland's north is a leading advocate for mental health issues and services, particularly amongst the young.  Alison’s project is to partner with the Medicare Local Alliance to develop a pilot education program for Medicare Locals to create better pathways for farmers and farming communities to access frontline health and mental health services.  

New South Wales state winner – Isobel Knight
Isobel Knight lives on a cattle farm at Loomberah, near Tamworth, and started her succession planning business in 2004 to provide farmers with the tools they needed to create formal succession plans and smooth the transition between generations. Isobel’s passion is to get women more involved in the day-to-day operations of their family farms. Isobel will use the $10,000 bursary to develop an affordable and easy to use online tool to help farming families develop succession plans.

The 2013 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award state runners-up are:

Tasmania runner up - Georgie Bond from Cressy
Queensland runner up - Terressa Ford from Hughenden
Western Australia runner-up - Leilani Leyland from Beechina
Victoria runner-up - Joanne Clifford from Castlemaine
South Australia runner-up - Mardi Longbottom from Glen Osmond
New South Wales runner-up - Vivien Thomson from Muttama

About the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award
The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award is Australia’s pre-eminent award for rural women. The Award was instigated by RIRDC in 2000 to support women with demonstrated leadership capabilities and a commitment to make an even greater contribution to their industries and communities. 

The Award’s Platinum Sponsor is Westpac Agribusiness, its national partner is the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and its media partners are OUTBACK magazine, ABC Radio and Rural Press Ltd.