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Seven of the best in the running for national RIRDC Rural Women’s Award 28 May 2015

Seven women who embody the Aussie can-do attitude and have a commitment to the rural industries and communities in which they work are now in the running to take out the 2015 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award.

Women play a vital role in rural businesses, industries and communities and the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award aims to both acknowledge and boost their contribution.

Each of the seven finalists – one from each state and the Northern Territory – will deliver a project as part of their Award that will benefit rural people and rural industries. Each of the women will receive a $10,000 bursary to help complete their project, with the national winner receiving an additional $10,000.

The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award also provides the state winners 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 on 9 September at the 2015 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award National Celebratory Dinner, to be held at Parliament House in Canberra. 

The 2015 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award state winners and their projects are: 

New South Wales state winner – Cindy Cassidy
Cindy will explore national and international approaches to modern agricultural extension in order to improve the effectiveness of locally delivered programs. The knowledge and tools created through the project will be transferred to other farming systems groups through the current network of collaborations and partnerships. 

Northern Territory winner – Dr Sally Isberg
Sally aims to educate non-agriculture science students on how their skills can be translated to primary industries and can lead to a lucrative career path. As part of her project, three Charles Darwin University female students will be offered six-week scholarships to undertake mini-research projects focused on outcomes in the crocodile industry. 

Queensland state winner – Sherrill Stivano
Sherrill will bring information and knowledge about the UK-based Red Tractor program to Australia to discuss brand and country of origin labelling. This will introduce Australian farmers, industry bodies and government to the opportunities offered by gathering behind one labelling system, the clarity of communication with consumers, and the benefit to everyone in the supply chain, for both domestic and international markets.

South Australia state winner – Sarah Powell
Sarah will establish and manage the pilot program ‘Champions Academy’, which aims to foster personal development through sport and mentoring, and will teach aspiring leaders how to lead by example, act with integrity, think selflessly and demonstrate commitment. Sarah will also develop a community leadership succession plan to continue to build strength and resilience in her local community. 

Tasmania state winner – Carol Bracken
Carol will study hazelnut production in Oregon in the United States, a heartland for hazelnuts and one of the world’s most competitive markets. She hopes to gain insights that will help develop and evaluate a number of business models to market hazelnut products in a competitive environment in Australia. Carol will also run a series of workshops and tutorials for women starting up businesses which will support them to develop project management skills, including information on scheduling, budgeting, stakeholder and risk management. 

Victoria state winner – Katie Finlay
Katie aims to encourage more farmers’ markets, holding them weekly and using Facebook as the tool to build “strong communities” around farmers and each market. Ultimately her project aims to give farmers better control of their markets by fostering strong relationships between farmers and consumers.

Western Australia state winner – Tress Walmsley
Tress’ project, titled ‘Oodles of noodles’ aims to increase the demand for noodle wheat by Australian consumers which will ultimately support local growers. Tress will use the Award bursary to develop six Western Australian grain growers into ‘Udon noodle master chefs’ and industry ambassadors. She hopes that these growers will market the product to their local communities and increase the local demand for the Udon grain.

About the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award
The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award is Australia’s pre-eminent award for rural women. The Award has acknowledged the valuable contribution of over 200 women since its establishment in 1994, with each having advanced their contribution to their industries and communities.

The Award’s Platinum Sponsor is Westpac Agribusiness and its media partners are OUTBACK magazine, ABC Radio and Fairfax Agricultural Media.

More information about the Award and longer profiles of each of the finalists can be found at www.rirdc.gov.au/rural-women's-award