Rural Women's Award

Rural Women's Award

Award Overview

The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award is Australia’s pre-eminent Award for rural women. The Award identifies and supports emerging leaders and change agents who have the capability and resources to drive innovation, productivity and sustainability within primary industries, and build economic and social development within rural communities.

The Award acknowledges that women offer a unique approach to leadership, which involves connecting and collaborating to effect change and influence, often without the need for position or authority. The Award also encourages primary industries and rural communities to embrace diversity in leadership to successfully navigate future challenges.

The Award supports women with demonstrated leadership capabilities, or leadership potential and community contribution, who have the desire and commitment to make a greater contribution to their industries and communities. It provides women with financial and professional support to implement their visions for primary industries and enhance their leadership capabilities.

Each State and Territory winner will receive a $10,000 financial bursary to implement their Award vision. Each State and Territory winner will have the opportunity to participate in the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Company Directors Course and will be supported to develop an individual integrated leadership plan.

The Award is an amazing opportunity to further your leadership development, make a tangible difference and inspire others. The Award is a life changing experience that will link recipients with a positive and powerful alumni network of like-minded women across the country who are passionate about primary industries and rural Australia.

Download the Award brochure

Who can enter?

The Award is open to all women involved in primary industries and/or rural Australia. No formal qualifications are required. Potential applicants can express their interest through the Expression of Interest process and gain access to mentors and feedback whilst undertaking their applications. 

The application process alone provides a leadership development opportunity for applicants to focus their passion

What is the bursary?

The $10,000 bursary is the major prize for each state and territory winner and provides the resources to develop each state and territory winner’s vision into a project or initiative that will benefit primary industries and rural Australia. The project or initiative may contribute to key Award areas including:

  • Innovation
  • Creativity
  • Community sustainability
  • Education
  • Productivity
  • Agribusiness
  • Regional development

The bursary can be used for formal training in leadership and business management; overseas study tours; establishing business plans or pilot programs; developing educational or promotional campaigns; networking at forums and conferences to grow your knowledge of industries and markets; developing training programs; testing information technology initiatives and publishing books.

The bursary cannot be used for buying capital equipment (without the explicit approval from RIRDC) or further education such as a Masters or Doctorate degree

What is the AICD Company Directors Course?

The Company Directors Course is a comprehensive and credible learning program relevant to board directors and business entrepreneurs.

The course provides a thorough knowledge of the role and duties of being a board member, and knowledge of organisational performance, strategy development, risk management and financial performance, which are all critical to operating any business enterprise.

The course provides the opportunity to gain the above skills and knowledge with like minded rural women. For more information on the course, its details and commitments please visit:

What is the individual integrated leadership plan?

The plan will provide 12 months of facilitated individual strategic support for each Award winner to enhance their leadership development, the implementation of their Award vision, along with networking, media and public relations opportunities.

Expression of Interest

The Expression of Interest process aims to assist applicants by providing guidance and advice around the award program and development of an applicants award vision or project. It is highly recommended that all applicants engage in this process.

How do I enter or nominate someone?

To express an interest in applying or to nominate an applicant call 02 6271 4132 or email Contact can also be made with the relevant state or territory Award coordinator.

Applicants will also need to complete the official entry form, addressing each of the selection criteria and include the name and details of two referees.

Referees will only be contacted if your application makes it to the final round. Email, post or fax your entry to your state or territory contact.

What is the process and schedule?

Nominations for the 2015 Rural Women's Award will open on 1 August 2014 and close on 30 October 2014.

Applicants will then be short-listed and interviewed in each state and territory. The successful applicants will be announced at formal state presentation events.

All state and territory winners will then be invited to attend the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course in Canberra.

All state and territory winners will proceed to national selection of the National RIRDC Rural Women’s Award 2015 winner. This selection is undertaken by the national selection committee prior to the award national celebratory dinner.

Your responsibilities to RIRDC

State and Territory Award winners will need to sign a contract with RIRDC and at the conclusion of their Award tenure will need to submit a report on their Award activities and achievements and how the bursary was used. RIRDC will seek reimbursement of the bursary if the report is not submitted.

State and Territory RIRDC Rural Women’s Award 2015 winners can expect to be interviewed by the media and where practical attend and speak at relevant public functions.

The National winner will be given an additional bursary to assist in meeting national commitments such as speaking engagements. RIRDC and relevant State/Territory agencies reserve ‘non exclusive’ rights to publish any material generated from successful applicants’ involvement in the Award.

How to Enter


The first thing you need to do is set aside some time to read the application form through thoroughly.

You must be involved in some way in primary industries, whether you work in broad-acre farming or intensive livestock, cropping, horticulture, fisheries, forestry, natural resource management or related service industries.

If you don’t think you meet all the criteria and are in any doubt contact your relevant state Award coordinator or the national Award coordinator (under Contacts on this page).


Ask how you would use the Award and the Bursary to make a difference.

 The main objective of the Award is to help you improve your business and leadership skills so you can operate at a higher level in steering the future of your industry, primary industries and in turn rural Australia.

The Award's main objective is to support women with either demonstrated or potential leadership capacities, who have the desire and commitment to make a greater contribution to their industries and communities.

The $10,000 Bursary is the major prize for each State and Territory winner to provide resources to develop your vision into a project or initiative that will support your professional development and will benefit primary industries and rural Australia.

The Bursary can be used in all sorts of ways, as long as you show how it will build a greater capacity within you and how it in turn will benefit primary industries and rural Australia.

Take time to define what you want to do with the Bursary and how you would go about it. Here are a few ideas of how past Award recipients have put the Bursary to use to get you thinking:

  • Build your leadership, business and management skills
  • Undertake an overseas study tour to grow your knowledge of innovations and markets
  • Attend conferences to grow your knowledge and networks with industry
  • Run workshops or a speaking tour in an area where you see a need and have expertise
  • Develop new value adding opportunities and markets for products
  • Write a book, a publication or an educational campaign
  • Develop new information technology of specific benefit to primary industries and its people

The Bursary cannot be used for further education such as a Masters or Doctorate degree or for buying capital equipment.

Step 3

Writing your application

Once you have read the application form thoroughly and are confident that you are eligible to enter the next step is writing up your application. This may take a few days. It is often good to get your ideas down in a first sitting and then leave it for a day or two before having a fresh look at what you have written. 

It may be worthwhile making contact with previous winners in your state or industry to gain their insights.

Contact your relevant state Award coordinator or the national Award coordinator (under Contacts on this page) to get in touch with past and current Award recipients.

Use headings

It might be helpful to begin with a rough outline under headings based on what is required. You can then jot down a few points under each heading which will get you started. Remember to address each of the three selection criteria.   

The selection criteria

Tip: Remember be specific and keep it simple. Limit yourself to what you know can be achieved in the 12 month time frame.

1.  A demonstrated personal commitment to primary industries and to the role of rural women in your State or Territory

Write one page about your personal commitment to primary industries and/or rural Australia, and ways you have supported primary industries and rural women in your state or territory.

The first criterion is asking you to write about your commitment to primary industries and its future sustainability. You will need to show how you are committed to primary industries and to rural women in your State. The key word here is ‘demonstrate’ so as well as talking about your background and your ‘philosophical approach’ you should try and give concrete examples. The Selection Committee will be looking for evidence of your commitment.

You might like to include things like:

  • Your participation in rural organisations and the benefits they have returned to your industry and its people
  • Your involvement in rural women’s groups and your understanding of the role of women in primary industries
  • The resources and effort you have put into your own enterprise/business and your industry
  • The long term commitment and involvement in your enterprise, an organisation or industry.

2. Potential to achieve and deliver benefits to primary industries (This is the most important selection criterion and will be weighted accordingly)

Write up to two pages about your vision and personal ambition for primary industries and/or rural Australia; your leadership capability as demonstrated by past experience in leadership and change agent roles; and how through the Award you will enhance your leadership capacity and contribution to industry. Also provide a basic budget on how you will spend the bursary.

Examples of costs that could be included are:

  • Travel, accommodation and meals
  • Training costs, conference and workshop registration fees
  • Consultations and networking
  • Printing, promotion and postage
  • Vehicle expense
  • Employment and childcare support

This criterion is about your vision for your industry and how the bursary will help you achieve it and how you operate at a higher level in your industry.

The Selection Committee will be looking for a clear and tangible personal vision and the dividends that vision will return through the bursary to you and your leadership capacity and to primary industries. Essentially they will want to know how the bursary is going to grow you and in turn how you will grow your industry.

So, give some thought for your vision for primary industries, if you had the resources what would you like to change or improve in primary industries today, how you could make a difference and what would be the benefits to you and to the broader primary industries.

Paragraph one

Outline as clearly and succinctly as possible your personal vision for primary industries.

Paragraph two

Summarise your experience in leadership and change management roles or your leadership potential and community contribution. It could be anything from Fundraiser at your local P and C, to member of your local Regional Development Australia or Catchment Management Committee, or initiatives or events you have effected independent of position. The Selection Committee will be looking for someone who has leadership potential and capability to enact on what they propose in this application.

Paragraphs three to five

Outline how the bursary will help you achieve your vision. You may wish to expand on what generated the idea, provide some evidence supporting the need for your vision, how it will help you be a leader and how your vision will benefit primary industries both now and beyond the 12 month period.

Paragraphs six to nine

Set out two or three objectives which focus on your vision, in other words what you are trying to achieve and what change you are trying to make.

A few examples:

  • To promote market opportunities for wool products
  • To establish new markets or partnerships overseas for olive oil.
  • To further develop leadership qualities and skills amongst women in the cotton industry
  • To develop a new rural educational program for secondary school
  • To develop a new promotional campaign to educate the urban population on primary industries
  • To write or publish a book on family farm business intergenerational issues.
  • To develop websites that promote primary industries and the rural communities they support.

Paragraphs ten to twelve

Provide a draft budget of how the bursary will be spent. Try to be realistic about costs. Do some research and get some quotes or estimates to help you plan your budget. This is an indicative budget only.

3.  Provide leadership and share skills and knowledge

Detail in one page how your Award ambition will assist you in the development of your leadership and representative capacity and how you will share your skills and knowledge to support others.

Step 4


Ensure that all the information required of you on the application form is completed and correct. You must include the name and contact details of two referees.

Step 5

Final reading

Give your application to a colleague or member of the family to read through and look for any errors or omissions. Remember that the written application form is your first hurdle so it is worth putting as much effort into it as you can.

Step 6

Send the application

Keep a copy of your application and send it to your relevant state or territory Award coordinator (see Contacts on this page). Applications for the 2015 Award open on 1 August 2014 and close on 31 October 2014.

Application Form

Download the application form here

The application form for the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award is an interactive PDF - you can directly enter your details and answers into the application form.

It is recommended that you download and then immediately save the blank application form to your computer. That way you can make and save changes whenever you want.

The completed form can be sent via email to your state or territory Award coordinator (see under Contacts on this page) or can be completed and printed and sent as a hard copy via post to your state or territory Award coordinator.


The Rural Industries R&D Corporation is thankful for the support of the following Award partners:

Platinum Partner

Westpac Agribusiness

National Partner

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture

State Partners

  • New South Wales State Government
  • Victoria State Government
  • Queensland State Government
  • Western Australia State Government
  • South Australian State Government
  • Tasmania State Government
  • Northern Territory Government
  • NT Farmers

Media Partners

  • ABC Rural Radio
  • Fairfax Agricultural Media
  • RM Williams OUTBACK Magazine


Each state and territory has its own Award coordinator.

New South Wales & ACT
Allison Priest
NSW Department of Primary Industries
Locked Bag 21, Orange NSW 2800
Phone: 02 6391 3620

Northern Territory
Tillie Morgan
The Northern Territory Farmers Assoc. Inc.
PO Box 748, Coolalinga NT 0839
Phone: 08 8983 3233

South Australia
Rebecca Lang
Strategy and Engagement
Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA)
GPO Box 1671, Adelaide SA 5001
Phone: 08 8226 0465

Western Australia
Christine Thompson
Dept of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia
Locked Bag 4, Bentley Delivery Centre WA 6983
Phone: 0427 986 351



Rebecca Williams
Agricultural Policy Group
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE)
PO Box 44, Hobart Tasmania 7001
Phone: (03) 6233 6812

Samantha Longley
Dept of Environment and Primary Industries
PO Box 500, Melbourne Victoria 8002
Phone: 03 5833 5254

Karyn Manktelow
Dept of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
GPO Box 46, Brisbane Queensland 4001
Phone: 07 3225 2770

Related Links

  • Follow Rural Women's Award on Twitter
  • Like Rural Women's Award on Facebook
  • Watch Rural Women's Award videos on YouTube
Tab 1 Content Title

Current Winners

Tab 1 Content

Current Winners


2014 New South Wales winner - Pip Job

Pip is Chief Executive Officer of the Little River Landcare Group with a passion for natural resource management and is particularly interested in regenerative agricultural systems that have the capacity to create sustainable food and production, as well as environmental outcomes for future generations. 

She is passionate about the impact that rural life can have on farmers and has instigated changes in the way Landcare operates to include the social needs of the community. This has included the ‘Women in the Landscape’ program which fosters learning, the exchange of experiences and the up-skilling of women to become more involved in farming businesses, a program which due its success is now being rolled out nationally. Pip has been working with various Landcare groups across New South Wales to help them improve their governance and has provided planning and advice on policies, procedures and staffing.

Pip has a vision for agriculture where farming family businesses are profitable and increase the ecological wealth of the land they manage. For this to occur Pip believes farmers need to adopt a holistic approach towards the way they balance their family needs, financial management and farming practices. 

Pip will use her bursary to create a rural women’s training program entitled ‘Positive Farming Footprints’ using the principles and philosophies of Holistic Management and the Trinity of Management to create a community of women who have the adaptive capacity to manage the challenges of rural life. This program will increase the capacity of rural women to manage climate change and finance in a complex economy, as well as increase their personal resilience using a social, ecological and economic platform. 


2014 Victoria winner – Julie Aldous

Julie is passionate about career opportunities in primary industries and sees a need to provide meaningful, applied learning opportunities for students through local land management placements; the development of partnerships between schools and their rural communities; as well as the promotion and increased uptake of the myriad of career pathways in primary Industries within schools and further education. 

In 2009, Julie developed the applied learning course for Year 9 and 10 students entitled ‘Agribusiness – The Mansfield Model’ to address the need for skilled young people to choose careers in primary industries. The course utilizes TAFE Certificates, school based apprenticeships and university courses to scaffold career opportunities, with applied learning taking place within the content of local farms. The course has been very successful and has seen an increase in the participation of young women, passionate about the agricultural industry. 

Julie’s ambition is to promote sophisticated food and fibre education in schools across Australia and heighten the awareness and appreciation of food and fibre production across both rural and metropolitan communities. Julie aims to connect schools with their rural communities through the formation of sustainable partnerships so that skills and leaning in food and fibre are fostered. Julie will consult and promote her program in schools, principal and curriculum conferences; media in rural press; consultation at a federal, state and national level, through presenting and participating at workshops, forums and projects; and networking.


2014 Queensland winner – Lauren Hewitt

Lauren grew up on a banana farm in Queensland during the emergence of environmental awareness, which sparked her passion to specialize in environmental law at university. Lauren currently works as General Manager of Policy at AgForce Queensland where she coordinates a team of policy specialists who provide important links between individual primary producers and government and industry body regulators. In this role Lauren has represented AgForce Queensland’s 5,000 strong membership at state and national forums and conferences, including Ministerial forums and the National Farmers Federation Policy Committee. 

She has also recently purchased a dairy farm at Mount Mee which she plans to run as a cattle fattening property with her husband.

Lauren recognizes the issues producers face in relation to controlling the cost of leasehold land, which across Australia is based on government-owned tenure that is then rented back to primary producers. With the majority of farm debt and capital tied up in land, this tenure security and rental arrangement has significant implications for continued farm viability. In 2012 Lauren conducted and published research with rural leasehold land academic Professor Chris Eves into rural leasehold land profitability in Australia, however more research and awareness of this issue is needed. 

Lauren’s project is to improve farm profitability through leasehold tenure and rent security by sharing knowledge and collaborating between leasehold jurisdictions. She aims to do this by creating a website with relevant materials; hosting workshops with farm and government representatives where rural leasehold land is a significant issue; create a new Australian leasehold land working group to bring together and share information and expertise; and identify and foster collaboration between researchers and farm representatives.


2014 South Australia winner – Penny Schulz

Penny co-runs Schulz Livestock, a beef and sheep enterprise which produces prime lambs, first cross ewe lambs and stud beef bulls but is also a consultant providing agricultural project management, facilitation, delivery and consultation services to the dairy, beef and sheep industries. She has recently completed a Master of Science in Agricultural and a Graduate Certificate in Rural Science specialising in Agricultural Consulting and has been a member of several beef and youth committees.

Penny is passionate about dairy extension, having worked as a Senior Dairy Extension Officer, and established the Young Dairy Network South Australia (YDN SA). This program has greatly increased the ability of young dairy farmers across the state to communicate with each other, access training and engage in opportunities relevant to young farmers. She is a board member of Livestock South Australia which represents and promotes the interests of beef cattle, sheep and goat producers. 

Penny’s vision is to coordinate a National Dairy Challenge which would consist of an inaugural two day event attracting numerous teams from across the country to compete in a range of dairy related activities including pasture management, cattle judging, cheese/milk tasting, animal’s selection and milk quality control. Penny will engage the Young Dairy Network to provide an opportunity to build its members leadership and organisation skills, whilst also providing opportunities for them to showcase the South Australian dairy industry to interstate teams. Penny hopes that this pilot event can be hosted by other states and associated dairy networks, to promote the industry nationally.


2014 Western Australia winner – Jackie Jarvis

Jackie is a primary producer who jointly owns a commercial vineyard and wine production company in Margaret River, Western Australia, and is also the West Australian Manager for MADEC, a not for profit business operating in the training and employment sector. In this role Jackie has developed the Regional Migrant Employment Support (RMES) pilot program which assists resettled humanitarian refugees find employment in West Australian Agriculture. 

Jackie has found through this experience that the program has not only been embraced by farming businesses, but is a way to secure permanent workers willing to locate to regional West Australia. This has the long term effect of revitalizing towns, bringing new families to country schools, adding cultural diversity to these communities, and providing stable employment for refugees who are often from farming backgrounds.

Jackie’s project is to create film postcards showcasing re-settled refugees working in agriculture and use her networks and social media to distribute these postcards to highlight the social and community benefits received by using this type of employment model. Jackie is currently a member on the Australia Landcare Council; the Rural, Remote and Regional Women’s Network, was former Director and Treasurer of the Foundation for Australian Agricultural Woman and has worked regularly with the National Rural Woman Coalition. She believes that using these and other local community networks will assist in the promotion of her work, as rural women play a vital role in on-farm recruitment. 


2014 Tasmania state winner – Annette Reed

Annette owns a small 40 hectare property which has been transformed to become economically viable by taking up the unique opportunity to support niche food markets, including 40 types of heirloom tomatoes and garlic products. This strengthened her ambition for primary industries to attract a greater number of small Tasmanian properties to be developed into vibrant and thriving boutique and niche markets. 

Her project is to undertake a 35 day tour of America and Canada to explore successful niche markets for tomato and garlic enterprises. This will include growing methods, best varieties for transport and sale, frost mitigation, extending growing seasons, marketing, value adding, packaging and consumer preferences. Annette will then present a series of grass root based workshops to encourage women on small rural properties to seek new business opportunities. Annette also aims to develop her own leadership, business and governance skills.

As Chair of the Tasmanian Women in Agriculture, Annette has forged the vision of 'connecting, supporting and celebrating Tasmanian Rural Women', developing achievable pathways forward, clear procedures and a robust succession plan. She has taken up opportunities to attend marketing and business workshops and forums, and has contributed to her community through founding the Rural Help @Hand organization, which provides vital support and information to rural patients and their families who are facing city hospitalisation.


2014 Northern Territory winner – Dr Amelia Rentz

Amelia is a recent graduate veterinary surgeon who runs her own practice in the Northern Territory. 

Upon completing primary school Amelia completed her secondary education via correspondence with the Northern Territory Open Education Centre in order to spend more time on her family’s properties. At the same time she undertook Vocational Education Training, successfully completing Certificates I and II in Agriculture (Beef Cattle Production and Rural Enterprises), to attain a greater practical knowledge of the industry before studying veterinary science at the University of Queensland. Amelia is passionate about community education and believes in the important role that rural women play in educating the wider community in health, welfare, and productivity. 

Amelia’s vision is to improve livestock disease intelligence and surveillance by developing a rural education program focusing on high risk zoonotic diseases and how they relate to humans and animals in regional Northern Australia. Amelia will use the RWA bursary to work with schools, government agencies, women’s groups and individuals to create a greater awareness of current and emerging animal related diseases that have the potential to affect public health. 

In the future Amelia hopes to undertake postgraduate study in public health and work in developing countries to continue the development of her vision.

Current Runner-Ups


2014 New South Wales runner-up - Edwina Beveridge

Edwina is a pig farmer from young who runs the first sustainable ’carbon’ farm in Australia, generating their own electricity and fertiliser from pig manure and working with the Clean Energy Regulator to promote this farming model. Her farm has the lowest carbon footprint of any pig farm in the country with half of the farms pig feed procured from other people’s waste, which would otherwise end up in landfill. 

Edwina is a member of the New South Wales Farmers Pork Committee and also works with Australian Pork Limited by hosting journalists, conducting interviews and creating industry promotional videos. Edwina supports her local community by employing 30 full time workers who have access to training and opportunities for career progression. 

Edwina’s vision for the Australian agricultural sector is to improve efficiencies and compete on the international market, whilst maintaining sustainable environmental practices and high animal welfare standards. 

Edwina’s project is to promote and support current best practice of animal welfare in the pig industry. Her objective is to further develop the science behind pig welfare in intensive farming, particularly looking at current research to develop new criteria on which to assess existing trials of farrowing housing alternatives. She will examine piglet welfare, using existing trials, studies and research, and will seek veterinarian advice. 


2014 Victoria runner-up - Avril Hogan

Originally from Canada, Avril emigrated to Australia to a sheep farm outside of Goroke and started a regional market research consulting company ‘Insightrix’, which has now grown to employ 20 local people. This company works primarily in agriculture and has produced work over a range of areas including triggers producers use to decide what crops to plant; monitoring the acceptance of new crops introduced in Australia and tracked over five years; collecting user feedback on a range of training, tools, programs, and government benefits for producers; and research into Victorian producers adoption and attitudes to climate change. 

Insightrix employs predominately women who are mothers returning to the workforce and young women who have left school early. This company provides them with professional training, computer skills, customer service, communication and interpersonal skills. 

Avril is passionate about empowering young women to provide skilled employees for the rural sector and her vision is to build the capacity of young rural women to contribute to the sustainability of their community and selves. 

Her project is to develop a rural youth mentorship program matching professional and/or migrant women to young women (aged 14 – 19). The initial pilot will involve 4 communities and 20 matched mentees and mentors and will run over an 8 month periods. The key outcomes will be an exploration of the mentees education and career aspirations, and inspiration for the mentees to pursue studies, follow their passions and remain in regional areas to contribute their skills to agriculture. As an immigrant herself Avril understands the challenges faced by new comers to rural communities, and also aims through this program to support the reception and integration of immigrants. 


2014 Queensland runner-up - Rhonda Sorenson

Rhonda is a strong advocate of collaborative partnerships to create positive sustainable economic and social change in rural and remote communities. She has a particular interest in using the abundant tropical expertise particularly in agribusiness, food processing and bio discovery to develop new and innovative industries to diversity and strengthen the regional economy and create jobs. 

Rhonda runs her own business and is Principal Research and Managing Director for SassyBio Pty Ltd which specializes in rural innovation, rural economic and community development. She is a member and chair of numerous agricultural committees; is coordinator of Malanda Small Farms Field Days; is a 'Blueprint for the Bush' Ambassador; and works with several women’s groups including the Women in Local Government strategy group and the Rural Women’s symposium state reference group. 

Rhonda proposes to lead a sustainable Small Farms Filed Day project which will put “Ag” back into Agricultural shows. This project will help fill the growing gap in dissemination and adoption of sustainable farm practices with smaller landholders in Australia, by undertaking a program of creating self-sustaining annual events in local communities as a partnership between local show societies and Landcare groups. 

Rhonda will conduct a study tour of New South Wales, Victoria and West Australia to attend successful small farms field days to investigate and understand the potential for supporting the adoption of sustainable farming and agricultural innovations through show societies and Landcare Partnerships at a local level. 


2014 South Australia runner-up - Susie Green

Susie is passionate about the Australian horticultural industry and believes in the vital importance of local, fresh food production to the long term health and wealth of our society. She has over 20 years’ experience working both nationally and internationally in soil and water management in various fields of agronomy, capacity building, business development and marketing, and holds numerous leadership positions including CEO of the Apple and Pear Growers Association of South Australia and several council and chair appointments on agricultural and educational committees. 

Susie is committed to her community and industry and is working hard to change the culture of the apple and pear industry to one of proactive positivity and collaboration.

Susie’s vision for the Australian horticultural industry is to proactively engage with the broader community to strengthen linkages between consumers and producers, particularly in light of the growing divide between these groups. Her project is a pilot to determine if a community engagement approach using citizen’s juries can generate deeper understanding of fresh food production among consumers; identify values around fresh food production; and enable the horticultural industry to develop positive stories that will effectively engage and connect with consumers and the general public. 

Susie hopes that if this pilot is successful, the approach could be upscaled through grant applications and industry collaboration to be applied to the broader national horticultural industry, across all different areas of Australian agriculture. Susie also hopes that this work will provide an example to other rural women that having the courage to think laterally and act on personal passions and beliefs can have a major impact.


2014 Western Australia runner-up - Jodie Lane

Jodie is passionate about promoting local food to local people, and through her business ‘Fair Harvest’ conducts classes, workshops and events promoting and teaching people about local food growing. Her business aims to educate growers and consumers about ethical and local ways of accessing food and runs an annual 2 week Permaculture Design Certificate in permaculture and organic growing. 

Jodie is also active in her community and has initiated projects such as the Monthly Swap Shuffle, a community day where locals are encouraged to bring excess seeds, plants and produce to exchange; Growers' Shared Meals where local produce is brought to her business venue and growers enjoy a three course meal prepared by a local chef; the Festival of Forgotten Skills, a family day where old and forgotten skills are shared by community members; the Bee Fair, a day for celebrating bees and beekeeping; and developing and promoting my ‘Eat Local Month’ a personal challenge to eat only locally grown food.
Due to the immense interest in her ‘Eat Local Month’ experience Jodie aspires to develop a ‘Eat Local Week’ challenge that will encourage people to eat locally. Jodie’s aim is to reach maximum public engagement and provide an interactive resource to promote primary industry Australia wide. Her project will include the development of an interactive website where participants sign up to the challenge and local producers can showcase their produce; and on the ground community driven events including an opening week for the challenge, a primary producers trail and a local food feast.


2014 Tasmania runner-up - Sarah Hirst

Sarah began her career as a cadet journalist, becoming the rural editor of the Launceston Examiner writing about the dreams, successes and hardships of farmers and rural communities. Since this time Sarah has worked for several rural publications, including the Weekly Times, Herald Sun, and Canberra's Press Gallery, before becoming the Public Relations Director of the National Farmers Federation. 

In this role, Sarah worked on lobbying and PR campaigns to improve the life and working conditions of rural Australians, including the International Women in Agricultural Conference which showcases the incredible inspiring stories of women in rural industries from around the world. Sarah owns and manages Leaning Church Vineyard and has recently purchased the local tavern which is to be turned into a regional food and wine showcase and tasting center. She has also established her own PR and marketing company, been a finalist in the Tasmanian Telstra Businesswoman Awards, and has won tourism, journalist and chamber of commerce awards.

Sarah has a passion to engage with rural women and promote farmgate experiences around Tasmania so locals and tourists can meet the producer, understand the origins of products from paddock to plate and gain a deep appreciation of the incredible women and men on the land. Sarah's vision is to study, learn and develop a model for an interactive farmgate 'meet the producer' trail for farmers to achieve three key goals: boost farm profitability by selling premium produce at full retail margin from the farmgate; add a dynamic rural-focused component to tourism industries; and educate consumers about the origins of food by enabling them to meet the farmer, taste the produce, learn about production and purchase home-grown goods. 


2014 Northern Territory runner-up - Bonnie Henderson

Bonnie comes from a family of graziers who operate cattle stations in far north-west Queensland and the Victoria River district and has a personal commitment to raising awareness of quality breeding stock and modern scientifically based beef production practice. Bonnie is also passionate about the lost art of saddle making, which she became engaged in whilst pursuing her career in flying. 

Bonnie's vision is to develop an educational program around rural skills, particularly saddle making, in conjunction with her local secondary college Vocational Education Program to up skill young people as they enter primary industries. 

Her aim is to keep young people in rural industries by providing training that can lead to a full time career, or supplement income as an added skill in conjunction with other paid work or family commitments. Bonnie believes this is important given the current economic times, where an increasing demand for good quality Australian made saddles can provide employment for young women in remote areas. 

Tab 2 Content Title

News and updates

Tab 2 Content


Isobel Knight

2013 New South Wales Winner and National Runner-up – Isobel Knight

Isobel Knight has a strong passion for her local community, owns and manages a grazing and marketing business with her husband and has also established proAGtive, a business that specialises in succession planning for family farm businesses. 

Isobel’s Award ambition is to develop an online platform which educates, provides process and inspires rural business owners, managers and family members to undertake the process of succession planning.

Following her own family’s frustrating experience in trying to plan for the future of their family farm, Isobel recognised the need for frameworks to be available for farming families to address succession planning needs. Isobel discovered that this was a common story and that available services were often expensive and inadequate. Knowing that family businesses that develop and communicate succession plans increase their business performance, profitability and long term viability, Isobel set out to undertake additional study including post graduate psychology, counselling and mediation to enhance her capacity to offer a unique and effective succession planning service to farming families.

Isobel also established proAGtive not only to help facilitate farming families as they addressed their succession planning, but also to encourage them to adopt relevant and more formal management system practices to ensure harmonious relationships and profitability.

In her community work, Isobel has developed her skills by taking on a diverse range of roles. These have included Real Estate and Law teaching positions at local TAFEs; Chair of the Ulinda Landcare Group; President of the Calrossy Campus Parents and Friends Association of Tamworth Anglican College; and participation on advisory boards including the Board to Resource Consulting Services and the Regional and Rural Health Advisory Board NSW. She is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Isobel will use the Award Bursary to develop an online platform for succession planning that rural businesses can easily and regularly access. This platform will improve the level of education about succession planning, inspiring positive attitudes in relation to and driving up the level of implementation, as well as the management of generational change in rural and regional businesses. 

Isobel believes that rural women in particular will greatly benefit from her project, as they strive to sustain relationships and create successful family businesses.

Michelle Freeman

2013 Victoria Winner - Michelle Freeman

Michelle Freeman is passionate about the forestry industry, and has become involved in wider industry initiatives since studying forestry at Melbourne University and the Creswick School of Forestry. 

Michelle’s Award ambition is to instigate change in the culture and diversity of the forestry industry through engaging women and youth more effectively and empowering them to step forward as the next generation of industry leaders.

During University Michelle joined the International Forestry Students Association (IFSA) and assisted in organising the 2005 Forestry Student Symposium. In 2008 Michelle was elected to the board of IFSA as Councillor for the Oceania Region, and as part of this role travelled abroad for two years attending regional meetings and representing Australian Foresters at IFSA events. Michelle also attended numerous conferences and presented topics on Australian forest management during this time. 

Michelle is an advocate for youth and women in the forestry industry and has commenced a PhD looking at the ecology and distribution of native vegetation in the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory. She is a Board Director of the Institute of Foresters of Australia (IFA) for Youth and Women and sits on the advisory committee for the Women in Forests and Timber Network (WFTN), which acts as a forum for women in the industry to meet, network, and exchange ideas.

Michelle’s award ambition is to instigate change in the culture and diversity of the forest industry through engaging women and youth more effectively and empowering them to step forward as the next generation of industry leaders.

Michelle will use the Bursary to travel, gain training in leadership and social media, attend the IFA National Forestry Conference 2013 and set up a workshop in conjunction with this conference to gain a better understanding of who is involved in the forestry industry. Michelle will also set up and effectively utilise social media to proactively engage youth and women within the industry, and identify and support potential future leaders.

Michelle believes that rural women and the next generation of foresters will be the key to driving change in the forestry industry and re-define the reputation of foresters for the general public.

Alison Fairleigh

2013 Queensland Winner – Alison Fairleigh

Alison Fairleigh is a passionate advocate for mental health issues and services, particularly in rural communities. Following a thirteen year career as a teacher both in Australia and abroad, Alison secured a position as Student Services Manager at the Australian Agricultural College in North Queensland, where in 2008 three local men took their lives.

Alison’s Award ambition is to partner with the Australian Medicare Local Alliance to develop a pilot education program for Medicare Locals to create better pathways for farmers and farming communities to access front-line health and mental health services.

Determined to develop a better understanding of the issues surrounding suicide and its impact on rural communities, Alison become a team leader with the local Community Response to Eliminating Suicide program to help educate people about suicide and its prevention. She also co-founded RuralMH a social media platform aimed at raising awareness of mental health issues in rural communities, and the highly successful “Great Café Challenge”, a campaign aimed at closing the rural/urban divide by asking every cafés across Australia to carry at least one weekly rural newspaper.

Alison currently manages mental health education programs for the Mental Illness Fellowship of North Queensland where she is the North Queensland, Rural and Online Coordinator. Alison is also an active member of Suicide Prevention Australia and hopes to bring the importance of both physical and mental health to the fore in rural communities, and also represent these communities in government health policy. 

Alison’s project is to build upon the Australian Government’s development of 61 Medicare Locals across Australia, which aims to better connect local health services and to find and fill service gaps. Alison believes that more specialised skills and knowledge in the area of farmer health are required for Medicare Locals to provide health services appropriate to meet the needs of this important group of rural Australia. 

Alison aspires to develop a pilot education program which will provide advice to Medicare Local boards and health professionals about the barriers and enablers for rural people accessing services; provide examples of successful programs and strategies; and demonstrate how to promote these services and programs to rural people.

Alison also hopes to empower rural women with the knowledge and skills they need to take on leadership roles within their communities and become the linchpins in their Medicare Local networks.

Anna Hooper

 2013 South Australia Winner – Anna Hooper

Anna Hooper is a pioneering wine maker from Mount Benson who has a vision to see the Australian Wine industry become a world leader in environmental performance. Since 2003 Anna has been developing the first Biodynamic wine range of the Limestone Coast area at Cape Jaffa Wines. Certified since 2006, this winery has received the South Australian Wine Industry Association Environmental Excellence Award Certificate of Merit and the South Australian Sustainability Award from 2009-2011.

As a pioneer in the industry with a passion for science and the environment, Anna has worked in a wide range of disciplines in a number of different countries, from grape growing and winemaking, to global markets. She has seen first-hand how the market reacts to environment credentials in wine and has specialist skills that can enhance biodynamic and organic management.

Anna has a strong belief in the importance of women in rural business and has taken on positions with the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources as a member of the South East National Parks and Wildlife Consultative Committee; has been Treasurer and President of the Mount Benson Vignerons Association; is a representative on the South Australian Wine Industry Association Regional Forum and the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council, and more recently has become a board member on the South East Natural Resource Management Group.

Anna’s award ambition is to investigate and improve the environmental performance of Australian wine compared with its global competitors. Anna’s project will see her travel to countries which have successfully developed environmental sustainability programs to guide viticultural and winemaking practices, including New Zealand, the United States of America and South Africa. 

Anna hopes that the outcomes of this project will serve as a tool to inspire rural women to become more actively engaged in managing the environmental credentials of their businesses, whether it be in wine, on the family farm or in a completely different industry.

Danielle England

2013 Western Australia Winner - Danielle England

Danielle England has been involved in the agricultural industry for over 20 years, from growing up on the family farm at Lake Grace, to studying a Bachelor of Agribusiness Management, to working as a rural journalist for Rural Press, and consulting for the Association of Australian Agricultural Consultants (AAAC).

Danielle’s Award ambition is to undertake a study tour of New Zealand’s North Island to explore how their agricultural industries have maintained international competiveness through innovation.

Danielle is now a project officer at Planfarm and specialises in project facilitation and coordination, as well as managing the Relative Advantage and Risk Uncertainty project within the Western Australian Grain and Graze 2 program.

Danielle has been a founding member of several rural women’s organisations, including Australian Women in Agriculture (AWiA); Top Crop groups in the Upper South East of South Australia which lead to the formation of Partners in grain (PING), a formal grains industry network for women and young people;, and has volunteered on the Narrogin Regional Childcare Services management committee.

Danielle’s Award ambition is to undertake a study tour of New Zealand’s North Island to explore how their agricultural industries have maintained international competiveness through innovation. Danielle will explore how New Zealand’s agricultural industries have managed change, and the role extension plays in the development of their innovative industries. She will explore how facilitated learning, communication and participation in research and development projects can benefit family businesses and the industry as a hole, and will also attend the Australasia Pacific Extension Network (APEN) International Forum. 

Danielle’s hope is to facilitate the uptake of new ideas into Western Australian broadacre industries through improved knowledge and skills in all sectors of the industry. This will help the industry analyse and adopt new ideas to become more resilient to the changing seasonal, market and farm management conditions.

Danielle has experienced how women positivity contribute to the sustainability of agriculture, and are often the members of businesses who are involved in environmental management actions and food safely assurance systems.

Katie Coad

2013 Tasmania Winner – Katie Coad

Katie Coad is State President of Rural Youth Tasmania, has played an integral part in the promotion and media support for Agfest Field Days for a number of years, and is President of the Deep South Events Tasmania Inc. Committee, which organises rodeo and social events in Southern Tasmania.

Katie’s Award ambition is to deliver the Kids Ag Awareness Program (KAAP) which focuses on education and activities to promote the importance of agriculture to children.

Katie’s commitment and passion for linking agriculture with education is fundamental to her role as President of Rural Youth Tasmania, where not only has she nurtured membership growth, training and community support, but has introduced a scholarship program that links Tasmanian schools with local farms and gardens. 

Katie is also currently working as Events Management Coordinator at the MS Society of Tasmania, where she manages the MS Readathon and has recently organised a Leadership, Education and Training weekend for Rural Youth.

Katie’s Award ambition is to deliver the Kids Ag Awareness Program (KAAP) as part of Agfest 2013, which focuses on education and activities to promote the importance of agriculture to children. In addition Katie would like to provide an educational booklet ‘a Tasmanian booklet for Tasmanian children’ as part of this program, which includes a mascot KAAP the Kelpie.

Katie will use the Award Bursary to develop, print and promote the KAAP Booklet and to invest in school and curricular activities. Activities will include a ‘farm to plate’ display, ‘plant a seed and take it home’ activity, promotion of farm and fire safety as well as games and reading time.

Giovanna Webb

2013 Northern Territory and National Winner – Giovanna Webb

Giovanna Webb has a degree in Animal Husbandry and Nutrition and has been working in the commercial farming of reptiles for over 25 years, both in Australia and Colombia.

Giovanna's Award ambition is to empower indigenous women from the Northern Territory, to develop their skills and knowledge in the crocodile industry and become successful in the market place.

On her migration to Australia in 1997, Giovanna established Wildlife Management International with her husband, a company that is committed to primary production and the commercial management of crocodiles. This family owned company is recognised as a global leader in the sustainable use of wild resources and also operates 'Crocodylus Park’ in Darwin, which is not only a tourist, education and research centre, but is also a crocodile farm which manufactures crocodile fashion leather products and crocodile meat.

In the management of these business's Giovanna has been committed to creating employment opportunities for disadvantaged and unskilled women at various levels, and believes there are excellent opportunities for women to engage in what has traditionally been a male dominated profession. She also believes there is economic potential for a new industry to be created that specialises in crocodile by-products.

Giovanna's Award ambition is to empower indigenous women from the Northern Territory, to develop their skills and knowledge in the crocodile industry and become successful in the market place.
Giovanna will use the Award Bursary to provide one-on-one training for indigenous women in the manufacture of crocodile products. She wants to work with the local community and hopes this training will provide sustainable incomes for participants, and provide a platform for other women to take up the challenge and foster integration and inclusion within the workplace.



Danica Leys

2012 New South Wales winner – Danica Leys

Danica’s Award ambition was to take the social media platform AgChatOz to the next generation to better advocate for Australian agriculture.

Danica has been actively involved in agriculture since 1998. In her early career Danica worked as an agronomist across northern New South Wales, before completing tertiary studies in law and now working as a lawyer, based in Sydney and specialising in employment, social media and agribusiness law.

Danica was one of the co-founders of social media platform and community forum AgChatOz. The forum was borne out of a perceived need for rural Australian communities to connect and as a vehicle to closing the city-rural divide, by providing a meeting place for weekly conversations on issue relevant to rural Australia.

Danica’s Award ambition involved formalising the AgChatOz platform as a legal entity, increasing participation and awareness of AgChatOz through key fields and events, and supporting rural people to develop their social media skills.

She believes the extension of AgChatOz will significantly increase its awareness, and its presence and impact as a powerful tool to advocate for agriculture in Australia.


Tania Chapman

2012 Victoria winner - Tania Chapman
Tania’s Award ambition was to nuture and develop the leadership of rural women and young people in the citrus industry in Australia. 
At the time of the Award, Tania was a citrus grower from outside Mildura and Chair of Citrus Australia. Tania purchased her 350 acre farm in 2004 and continues to operate her own book keeping business.
Tania transitioned to Chair of the citrus industry’s national peak industry body within the space of six years.
Tania has contributed to the development of her regional community through her involvement in the Sunraysia Rural Financial Counselling Service, the Deakin Mildura Rotary Club and is an active campaigner for breast cancer.
Tania’s Award ambition is to unify the Australian citrus industry by tapping into the skills, energy and leadership potential of its rural women and young people. The citrus industry is one of the most important horticultural industries in Australia, yet Tania believes its industry leadership is very fragmented which she believes threatens the industry’s future sustainability.
Tania wished to use the Bursary to set up a national Rural Women’s Leadership Forum, to identify and encourage industry leadership talent and establish the Citrus Industry Future Leaders Program, as an ongoing program to identify, encourage and develop the next generation of leadership for the citrus industry.


Annette Smith

2012 Queensland winner – Annette Smith
Annette’s Award ambition was to build capacity to negotiate better outcomes for agricultural landholders and mining companies and regional communities from the resources boom.
At the time of the Award, Annette was Chair of Central Highlands Regional Resources Use Planning Cooperative Ltd, the local Natural Resource Management Group and a Senior Property Valuer with Taylor Byrne. CHRRUP is a community-owned organisation that focuses on improving natural resource management practices and building sustainable communities across the Central Highlands.
Annette was the youngest and only female ever appointed to a role of senior valuer within the Department of Natural Resources and was Vice-Chair of the Emerald Pastoral College Board, prior to the amalgamation of Queensland’s four agricultural colleges.
Annette’s Award ambition is to take best management practice modules for pest management, biosecurity and salinity, currently delivered to rural industries, and rewrite these workshops for delivery to representatives of resource companies to better inform and build capacity to negotiate better outcomes for all parties and the broader community.
The rapid expansion in coal and mineral production conflicts with traditional land uses and has ignited strong emotions and heated debate across the region.
While legislation and regulation sets out the requirements of all parties to land under exploration and mining tenure Annette believes better outcomes can be achieved by increasing understanding of the requirements, culture and demands of all parties and by supporting agreement by all parties.
Annette planned to develop and deliver a series of workshops, offered to both landholders and to resource staff and contractors, to increase the level of understanding of the businesses and environment of both parties, to improve relationships and ensure better outcomes for all parties and the broader community.


Mary Retallack

2012 National and South Australia winner – Mary Retallack

Mary’s Award ambition was to support women’s leadership to ensure a more profitable and resilient Australian wine industry.

Mary is a third generation viticulturist and Managing Director of Retallack Viticulture, which offers a wide range of consulting services throughout Australia. Since 1996 Mary has worked in vineyard management, technical, research, and consultancy, training and extension roles both with in Australia and overseas.

Her experience extends from Viticulture Lecturer at TAFESA, Okanagan University College in British Columbia and Cellar Operations at Matanzas Creek Winery in California, to Vineyard Manager at Mountadam Vineyards SA, Project Leader at the CRC for Viticulture and Senior Consultant at Scholefield Robinson Horticultural Services.

Mary was one of the youngest non-executive directors to be elected to the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation and is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and the Australian Wine Industry’s Future Leaders Program.

Mary has been actively involved in women’s leadership development within the wine industry, as the instigator of a small women’s network and as mentor to numerous other women involved in the wine industry.

Mary’s Award ambition was to develop a ‘Women in Wine’ website as a central meeting place and comprehensive information sharing hub for women in the wine industry. The website would provide a single location for the dissemination of information and resources and will create a conduit to mentoring and supporting women.

She wishes to encourage women to be involved in the wine industry, in a range of roles and especially viticulture. Most importantly she wants to ensure that women who are at the top of their game do not leave the industry.

Mary used the Award bursary to develop the website and to build a network of women in the wine industry, to act as ambassadors and to support women’s leadership development.


Catherine Marriott

2012 National runner-up and Western Australia winner – Catherine Marriott

Catherine’s Award ambition was to bring together a group of women from the pastoral regions of Western Australia, to develop their knowledge and skills in communication and media, so that they could better advocate on behalf of the beef industry and behalf of rural and regional Australia.

Catherine Marriott’s entire life has been directly involved in primary industries, from growing up on the family farm outside Benalla in Victoria, to undertaking a Bachelor of Rural Science at the University of New England, to jillarooing at stations across northern Australia, to consulting to the northern Australian beef industry.

At the time of the Award, Catherine consulted to a select group of companies and private clients involved in the live cattle export industry, pastoral training and leadership capacity building, both within Australia and in Asia.

Catherine is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program, a committee member of the RRR Network, an active member of the Country Women’s Association and a volunteer ambulance officer with St John’s Ambulance Australia in her home town of Kununurra.

Catherine used the Bursary to organise a three day forum in Broome that provided participants with new skills in communication, influencing and advocating for the Northern beef industry using all media platforms. Other topics covered were values-based communication and engaging with the consumer as well as a strategy building workshop aimed at maintaining future sustainability and viability for the industry. The three day forum finished with a project development session - a tangible outcome of the new knowledge gained and connections formed.

Catherine believes that rural women are very comfortable and competent at managing change and that the time is right for women to play a greater role in advocating on behalf of the beef industry and Australian agriculture.


Fiona Ewing

2012 Tasmania winner – Fiona Ewing
Fiona’s Award ambition was to support and grow the Tasmanian seafood industry by supporting the rural communities it depends on, through the establishment of a community trust that delivers lasting change to the west coast of Tasmania.
Fiona has worked in the seafood industry in Tasmania since 1993 as a scientific observer working on commercial fishing vessels around Tasmania, a Fisheries Extension Officer with Ocean Watch Australia and at the time of the Award was a Community Engagement Officer with salmon growers, Tassal.
She has extensive experience in a number of fisheries including the Rock Lobster, Purse Seine, Trawl, Giant Crab, long line and drop line fisheries.
Fiona has instigated a number of worthy projects including the Seafood Industry Partnerships in Schools Program, which has made a positive contribution to educating students and to public perception of the industry. Another program which Fiona has had substantial input into is the Marine Debris Cleanup Project, which has evolved into an ‘adopt a shoreline’ approach and created valuable linkages between local communities and seafood producers.
With Tasmania’s three largest salmon companies looking to expand their operations to the west coast of Tasmania, Fiona believes there is a corporate social responsibility to now not only provide good employment opportunities but to support the rural communities in which they operate and to assist to resolve some of the social issues apparent in some of these communities.
Fiona’s Award ambition was to travel to Scotland to visit a salmon farming company that has established a Community Trust, which provides financial support for community projects that deliver lasting change. She wanted to learn from their experiences, with a view to setting up a similar program on the west coast of Tasmania.
Fiona believes the community trust once established, will give other industries operating in the west coast region the opportunity to be involved, so maximizing the Trust’s giving capacity. This has the potential to be translated to other industries and other regions.


Barbara Koennecke

2012 Northern Territory winner – Barbara Koennecke

Barbara’s Award ambition was to support the giant clam industry and engage the indigenous community in the development of the aquaculture industry in the Northern Territory

Barbara is a pioneer of the aquarium industry and at the time of the Award was Principal of Arafura Aquatic Fish Pty Ltd, one of the first professional aquarium businesses in the Northern Territory. Arafura Aquatic Fish is based at Gove, on the beautiful Arafura Sea in Arnhem Land on the north eastern coast of Australia.

Barbara and her partner Brian have been instrumental in developing the aquarium industry in the Territory including the development and implementation on new management practices, licensing requirements and new environmental management and quality assurance guidelines.

As a pioneer in the aquarium industry, Barbara has contributed to the development of the industry through the NT Seafood Council, Primary Industry Training Advisory Council, Women without Boundaries Network and Women’s Industry Network NT (WINSC)

Arafura Aquatic Fish has since 2007 been working in collaboration with the Darwin Aquaculture Centre on the reproduction and husbandry of the giant clam. Arafura is the first enterprise within Australia to successfully spawn and re-seed on farm and then transfer to grow out in the wild commercial quantities of baby giant clams.

Barbara’s Award ambition was to support the giant clam industry, namely improving its reproduction and husbandry practices, so that a greater supply of giant clams will be available for restocking of depleted wild stocks, for sale to the ornamental industry and as a sustainable food source for the indigenous population.

Barbara used the Award Bursary to travel to the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to learn from their research into restocking of giant clams and their experiences with engaging coastal communities in the aquaculture industry. She also planned to attend the International 2012 Australiasia Aquaculture Conference.



Karen Hutchinson

2011 New South Wales Winner – Karen Hutchinson

Rural change agent

Karen Hutchinson, from Hanwood, New South Wales was, at the time of the Award, Executive Manager of Murrumbidgee Irrigation and an irrigated agriculture leader at a time of unprecedented change in the management of the nation’s water resources.

Karen came from an academic background with expertise in group processes and sustainable resource management and professional experience in strategic development. 

Since 2000 Karen has lived with her family at Hanwood outside Griffith, where she has been involved in primary industries; directly at a farming level growing sultanas for dried fruit production on their irrigated property. Indirectly she has been an educator and involved in policy development for the irrigation industry.

In her role as Murrumbidgee Irrigation Executive Manager, Karen was responsible for water distribution and customers throughout the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA).

Karen believes that with agriculture in the Murray Darling Basin facing the prospect of significant cuts to water allocations, the efficiency of water supply and its use will become absolutely critical to the survival of the Basin’s rural industries and communities.

Karen wants to see irrigated agriculture go beyond resilience, to embrace change and to demonstrate its ability to adapt and thrive in response to political and environmental change.

She believes during a time of unprecedented change, the irrigation community of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area will need strong leadership. She aimed to use her academic background and qualifications, her industry knowledge and the strong links she had with industry and the farming community to provide that leadership to her community.

Her Award ambition is to research current knowledge and thinking on innovation and change, to learn from other industries that have faced change and to map out opportunities for engaging industries and communities to manage change in the MIA.


Angela Betheras

2011 Victorian Winner – Angela Betheras

Trade negotiator

At the time of the Award, Angela Betheras was an alpaca breeder from Darnum, West Gippsland and principal of an integrated tourist enterprise ‘Nickelby by Darnum’. She was the first female to sit on the Committee of Lardner Park Events, the largest Farmworld event in the southern hemisphere and was previously Chair of the West Gippsland Gourmet Country Tourism Association.

In 2005 she traded the corporate world and an 18 year career in international trade and supply chain management with some of Australia’s major retailers to pursue her passion for alpaca breeding.

The alpaca industry has established itself as a credible and profitable fibre industry, boasting a total of 100,000 breeders. But, according to Angela, it needs to find new markets for its woollen products if it is to expand and support its breeders.

Angela’s Award ambition was to explore trade relations with China as an export market destination for exclusive Australian made alpaca garments and accessories.

China is the world’s largest consumer market, boasting a rapidly increasing number of affluent middle class consumers. Beijing and Shanghai between them have a population of 32 million people and many months of below zero temperatures.

Given her corporate background and her experience in facilitating trade, Angela believed she had the necessary skills and contacts, and understanding of the customs and culture, to initiate new trade relations with China and establish a new market for Australian alpaca products.


Barbara Grey

2011 National Runner Up and Queensland State Winner – Barbara Grey

Rural communicator

Barbara Grey from Mungindi, Queensland, has been an irrigated cotton grower since the early 1980’s. The innovative and efficient practices she and her husband have put in place on their farm led to them being awarded the prestigious Cotton Australia ‘Innovative Grower of the Year Award’ in 2007, and consistently being placed in the top five percentile of their region’s benchmarking group for cotton growing.

At the time of the Award, Barbara was Chair of the Women’s Industry Network – Cotton and Non-executive Director of the Cotton Co-operative Research Centre. She is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, has completed an Advanced Diploma in Business and was enrolled in a Masters of Business Administration.

Barbara is committed to strong, healthy and productive rural industries and regional communities and is deeply concerned about what she believes is a growing disconnect between rural people and government and decision makers.

Her Award ambition was to implement a pilot education program that will empower aspiring rural and regional women leaders to gain a better understanding of the political process and government decision making which will help give them a stronger and more effective voice for rural industries and regional communities.

Barbara used the bursary to build her skills in project facilitation to give her the competencies to deliver on the pilot program. In the longer term, she believes the pilot could be replicated and become a regular training initiative for rural and regional women.


Kim Blenkiron

2011 South Australian Winner – Kim Blenkiron

Community capacity builder

Kim Blenkiron from Strathalbyn, South Australia, grew up on a farm in the Mallee and always knew her work and life would be in farming.

At the time of the Award, Kim and her husband had been farming for close to two decades, both on Kangaroo Island and on the mainland at Strathalbyn. Her industry involvement included working with Agriculture Kangaroo Island and representing Kangaroo Island on the SA Advisory Board of Agriculture.

At the time of the Award, Kim was the State Coordinator of Partners in Grain in South Australia.  In this role she worked with key women in regional communities to develop their professional skills and self confidence. In holding that position she established and ran an impressive 13 self-directed learning groups.

Kim is committed to supporting the professional development of rural women and believes that their skill sets are critical to the management of individual businesses and to the profitability of industry generally.

Kim’s Award ambition is to better support rural women to achieve their personal and professional goals and ambitions for their industries and communities. She planned to run a series of workshops to transfer her coaching and communication skills to rural women to increase the capacity of rural communities.


Caroline Robinson

2011 National Winner and Western Australian State Winner – Caroline Robinson

Rural entrepreneur

At the time of the Award, Caroline Robinson lived in Woolocutty, Western Australia and was a rural development consultant specialising in community development, strategic engagement and project management, and a wheat and sheep producer from Woolocutty in the Western Australian wheat belt. 

Caroline is the brains behind the Wheatbelt Business Network (WBN), established to promote local produce and regional tourism, and to provide opportunities for entrepreneurship and networking, training and education and the advancement of women in business.

The WBN fast became the glue that bound many of the communities of the wheat belt together during an extremely difficult drought period. Since its formal launch in March 2010 the Network became a central point on the eastern wheatbelt for news and information, and a hub for businesses to promote their services and products. The Network was supported by five local shires, and in some of those shires has the support of half their businesses.

Caroline’s Award ambition is to further develop the Network as a conduit to investment into the region, as a vehicle to help businesses support each other and to encourage business to engage in electronic and social media and marketing. 

She planned to research and develop a Buy Local marketing campaign for the wheat belt that will emphasise local consumer loyalty and the value of business-to-business sales.

She used the bursary to visit other rural communities and learn from their strategies. She coordinated a survey of local government and key stakeholders across the wheat belt to identify the gaps within the local economy and the scope for existing businesses and prospective new businesses to fill those gaps.  She then intended to embark on a comprehensive marketing campaign for the entire region.

Caroline believes that encouraging people to buy local will not only help the viability of businesses but provide an opportunity for new business ventures and alternate income streams for rural people. She thinks the Buy Local marketing campaign has the potential to be adopted by other communities across the country.


Jackie Brown

2011 Tasmanian Winner – Jackie Brown

Agricultural educator

Jackie Brown from Brighton, Tasmania, is a leader in the field of agricultural education in Australia. Since the early 1980’s she has been committed to agricultural education and to raising awareness of the dynamic and diversified number of career pathways that agriculture offers students.

Jackie was the driving force behind the development of the Bridgewater High School Farm in Brighton, Tasmania. She was instrumental in building the farm into a nationally recognised and highly utilised educational facility.

The farm provides vocational training, work skills programs and agricultural science, as well as a diverse range of short courses.

Her Award ambition is to raise awareness of the serious shortage of students pursuing a career in agriculture, and the importance of making agricultural education accessible to all students, in both rural and urban communities.

Jackie planned to investigate international best practice in agricultural studies by visiting a range of agricultural training providers in the United Kingdom, with the intention of implementing more innovative programs for teachers and students in Tasmania.


There was no winner in 2011 for the Northern Territory


Lana Mitchell

2010 New South Wales Winner – Lana Mitchell

European and United Kingdom wildflower market study tour

Lana Mitchell is a commercial cut-flower grower and a pioneer of the Australian wildflower industry, having bred and achieved plant breeding rights for ‘White Romance’ the tallest and largest flannel flower on the market.

Lana ‘s Award ambition was twofold: to support the Australian wildflower industry through better communication and collaboration and to move beyond an emerging industry and to take Australian wildflowers into the European market.

Lana’s Award project involved an international study tour to Europe and the United Kingdom to study two successful business models, the Flower and Plant Association of the UK and the Flower Council of Holland. She extended the tour to include Israel, world leaders in flower production, to learn from their research and development and marketing and promotion efforts.

As a direct result of the study tour, Lana concluded that without a compulsory marketing levy, as is currently the case in Australia, the marketing models of both the UK and Holland are not adaptable or workable in Australia.

However Lana believed that the establishment of New Rural Industries Australia, a new organisation set up to better coordinate and collaborate production and marketing information across new rural industries, would provide the ideal vehicle for the Australian wildflower industry. Lana was appointed a Director of NRIA and editor of their magazine.

Lana’s project delivered an Australian first. The project was been successful in securing a permit from the Israeli government for export of flannel flowers into their country. A licensed propagation company will supply growers with mother stock, to enable build-up of sufficient volume to export flowers from Israel into Europe. The logistics and cost entailed meant that export through Israel was the only option. The agreement would see Australian wildflowers penetrate the European market, and so creating recognition for Australian flora and building demand for Australian wildflowers.

Alana Johnson

2010 National Runner-Up and Victorian State Winner – Alana Johnson

Growing stronger agriculture through philanthropy

Alana Johnson believes in the establishment a philanthropic foundation for agriculture to enable people to put something back into rural Australia.

Alana highlighted that there were philanthropic funds for heath, the arts, sport and education, but not for agriculture.

Alana was hoping to fill this void, and worked to establish the Australian Agriculture Future Foundation that would provide an avenue for people on the land to create a legacy to rural Australia by investing their wealth back into agriculture.

For the 28 years leading up to the Award, Alana was involved in cattle production, farm forestry and landscape renovation with her husband and sons on their property outside Benalla in Victoria.

In this time, she also played a lead role in the development of rural women’s leadership and capacity building.  She was a founding member of Australian Women in Agriculture, past President of the Foundation for Australian Agricultural Women and she held the rural portfolio on the Board of the Victorian Women’s Trust.

As a rural consultant Alana is recognised nationally and internationally for her work on farm succession planning, change management in the rural sector and leadership training for rural women. She is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and undertook research for a PhD on the history of the rural women’s movement in Australia.

Alana said the gave her a platform and for others to recognise the time is right for a philanthropic fund for agriculture.

Sharyn Garrett

2010 Queensland Winner – Sharyn Garrett

Raising the profile of kangaroo harvesting

Sharyn Garrett believes the key to achieving a higher profile for the kangaroo industry is for harvesters and landholders to work more closely together to create an industry which is profitable, sustainable, and enjoys a more positive image. 

At the time of the Award, Sharyn was a partner in a macropod harvesting enterprise, Secretary of  the Queensland Macropod and Wild Game Harvesters Association  and Executive Officer of the Booringa Action Group - a not for profit community organisation in south west Queensland.

Sharyn’s vision is for landholders and harvesters to work co-operatively to recognise and utilise the kangaroo as a resource, and not just a pest. She was working to establish the first ever kangaroo harvesters and growers co-operative and she wanted to use the Award bursary to develop the cooperative’s business strategy.

The cooperative would provide rangeland landholders with the opportunity to invest in a business that utilises kangaroos and generates income from them.

She believed the cooperative would result in higher returns for producers, better kangaroo management practices and less pressure on grazing land.

When Sharyn was awarded the Queensland RIRDC Rural Women’s Award, it was recognition of her hard work to grow the kangaroo harvesting industry in a sustainable way.

Ulli Spranz

2010 South Australian Winner – Ulli Spranz

A taste for biodynamics and organics

Ulli Spranz describes as “mind blowing” the extent to which her organics company has grown since its establishment in 1988.  Ulli is widely regarded as a pioneer in biodynamic and organic farming in Australia.

For the more than 20 years prior to her Award she has lived and worked at Paris Creek in the Adelaide Hills, where she and her husband operate a successful biodynamic farming property, a milk processing plant and a cheese processing plant. She employs 55 people, processes 8 million litres of milk a year and sells in excess of $10 million in product annually.

What makes Ulli’s farm unique is that all her produce is grown organically and biodynamically.

Ulli’s passion for organics stems from her belief that organic and biodynamic food is not only good for people, but it’s good for the environment too.

Ulli was one of the founding members of the Biodynamic and Organic Agricultural Bureau, a farmer organisation established to network and exchange experiences. At the time of the Award she was Chair of Biodynamic Agriculture Australia Ltd which is recognised as the most successful biodynamic organization worldwide.  She was also a committee member with Standards Australia for the Organic and Biodynamic Standard.

Ulli is passionate about educating others in biodynamic and organic farming principles and she holds monthly meetings with farmers to study biodynamic farming. Her Award ambition is to expand her educational role by organising workshops throughout Australia to promote biodynamic and organic farming principles.

Sue Middleton

2010 National Winner and Western Australian State Winner – Sue Middleton

Creating a more environmentally sustainable pork industry

Sue Middleton doesn’t regard piggery waste as a worthless resource.  Instead, she believes it has enormous potential to be used more positively to generate energy. At the time of the Award, Sue and her husband managed a diverse range of farming operations, including 210 hectare citrus orchard and  a 13,000 thousand acre grain enterprise. They have diversified into the pork industry through the purchase of a PIC multiplier herd unit and leased and managed the Pig Skills Centre Breeding Unit at Muresk in WA.

Sue’s Award ambition is to pursue the commercialisation of biogas as a business opportunity.  She sees the Award as the perfect platform to progress her research and to educate others on enormous opportunities associated with biogas. Sue firmly believes that the Rural Women’s Award plays an important role in recognising and encouraging greater contributions from women in rural Australia.

Preliminary research undertaken by the pork industry demonstrated that using piggery waste to generate electricity is a viable proposition for most piggeries.  The research came at a time when the agriculture industry was looking for ways to play a more positive environmental role and reduce its carbon emissions.

Her contribution to rural leadership included sitting on the inaugural Regional Women’s Advisory Council advising government on issues impacting on rural women and rural communities, serving on the National Rural Advisory Council responsible for national drought policy and sitting on the Regional Solutions Board.

Sue used the bursary to travel to New Zealand and Europe to investigate some of the world’s most outstanding food waste processing and biogas production facilities. 

 Sue said the Award is about recognising women who are stepping up into leadership positions and hopefully giving other women permission to achieve.

Gabbi Bresnehan

2010 Tasmanian Winner – Gabbi Bresnehan

Supporting rural women in need

At the time of the Award, Gabbi Bresnehan was a fifth generation farmer and manager of a texel sheep, prime lamb and mixed cropping enterprise in the Southern Midlands of Tasmania.

Gabbi’s Award ambition was to support rural women by providing them with practical support and time out to network so that they could continue to perform in the various roles demanded of them within their families and enterprises, industries and communities.

Gabbi’s project involved staging a series of workshops to give women a day off work while providing them with new skills, new networks and access to rural support services.

Gabbi coordinated three workshops, the first two specialising in cheese making, one held at Oatlands in the Southern Midlands and the other at Westbury in the Northern Midlands, with the third workshop, a leather making workshop, to be held in the Southern Midlands before the end of 2010.

Gabbi’s efforts provided rural women across Tasmania with practical support, the opportunity to connect up with other rural women and some real respite from the pressures of drought. The workshops encouraged a number of women to establish new enterprises and cottage industries and helped boost membership of Tasmanian Women in Agriculture.

Gabbi’s project also provided a conduit for other rural services, including Department of Primary Industries, Rural Financial Counselling, Relationships Australia and CentreLink to better connect with rural women.

With support from TWiA, Gabbi  successfully applied for a grant to run another cheese making workshop and she will continue to seek new funding opportunities for future workshops.

The Award required Gabbi to speak in public on issues relevant to rural women, so raising her profile and her confidence in public speaking, The effort involved in coordinating also increased Gabbi’s organisational and leadership skills.

Carmel Ball

2010 Northern Territory Winner – Carmel Ball

Improving the profile and professionalism of the Northern Territory Seafood Industry

At the time of the Award, Carmel Ball was owner-operator of the Darwin Fish Markets, the only fresh seafood market in the Northern Territory promoting and selling only Australian seafood, with 98% of their product sourced locally. She had been involved in the aquaculture industry in the Territory for over a decade, as a consultant in quality assurance and human resource management.

Carmel’s ambition is to improve the level of professionalism and raise the public profile of the Northern Territory seafood industry.

The centrepiece of Carmel’s project was the production of the Territory’s first comprehensive seafood cookbook, to profile and celebrate the industry and to provide consumers with knowledge and recipes on how to prepare and cook local seafood cuisine.

Carmel’s project involved extensive communication and collaboration with government and industry. She received official endorsement of the book by the NT Seafood Council and its inclusion as part of the Board’s strategic and marketing plan, with a subcommittee established to progress the cookbook to publication.

Her project also involved the production and distribution of marketing material for the ‘Support Local Caught’ campaign, supported by the major supermarket chains throughout the Territory and in Kununurra in Western Australia.

Carmel was elected Chair of the Trader and Processing Committee on the Northern Territory Seafood Council Board, a position she aspired to retaining for two terms.

The Award required Carmel to speak at a number of significant events, including the Australian Women in Agriculture 2010 National Conference and the NT Westpac ‘Learn, Lead and Succeed’ Forum.

Carmel anticipated the Northern Territory Seafood Cookbook to be published and available to the public before the end of 2012.


Kim Currie

2009 New South Wales Winner - Kim Currie

In search of a Regional Identity for Australia

At the time of the Award, Kim Currie was Executive Officer of Brand Orange and a regional food and wine specialist working in regional branding and tourism. Kim had 20 years experience as a food and wine consultant and her career included farmer, restaurateur, and regional events promoter and caterer.

Kim was awarded the NSW RIRDC Rural Women’s Award in 2009 and her Award ambition was to challenge first-hand the claim that “Australia could never develop a true regional identity”, by immersing herself in the culture of markets, festivals and agri-tourism of regional Italy and France.

The tour took in farm gate experiences, markets, events and celebrations in and around Provence in regional France and Piedmont in regional Italy.  Kim met with communities who showed great generosity and hospitality, who were proud of their culture and celebrating that culture and who were genuinely interested in sharing ideas in tourism and their wine and food industries. In Orange she was welcomed by a civic reception, while in Turin she was given an audience with the city’s General Manager and in Castelogni Monferado and El Palio she was taken up front and centre stage in their parades. 

The tour proved fertile ground for new ideas and experiences. Kim found that our own producers, cooks and consumers are not far behind in the quality of produce and food, but are lacking in confidence and in the way they project and market themselves.

The most important lessons Kim learnt from the tour included the importance of promoting key strengths and the individuality of each region, success through simple things done well, the provenance of a single product is all it takes, the importance of protecting authenticity, and the power of town squares as the centre of celebration and culture within communities.

The tour showed Kim that Australia’s key strength is in its innovation, that it is a fresh stamp and an opportunity for food and wine specialists to make a mark and forge an identity never established before.

Kim’s tour opened up the opportunity for an exchange between winemakers and viticulturalists in Orange and Chateauneuf-du-Page and a proposal to pursue an officially relationship between NSW and the Government of Piedmont, with cultural and culinary exchanges being the basis of the relationship.

Kim subsequently became a councillor with the Royal Agricultural Society and Chair of the Fine Foods Committee. One of the committee’s projects was to support cheese making in school programs in NSW.

Roma Britnell

2009 National Winner and Victorian State Winner - Roma Britnell

Generating Discussion on the Ownership of the Dairy Industry’s Supply Chain and Implications for Producers

At the time of the Award, Roma Britnell and her husband had been dairying for the previous 12 years and owned and operated three dairy farms in western Victoria.

Roma was also Chair of WestVic Dairy, the industry development body for western Victoria that aimed to help advance the dairy industry in the region.

Roma’s Award ambition is to generate discussion within the dairy industry on the dramatic shift in ownership of the supply chain and implications on returns to dairy farmers.

Since deregulation in the late 80’s the Australian dairy industry had witnessed a significant decrease in the market share of farmer owned cooperatives and a significant increase in foreign ownership by multinationals. The increased market share of multinationals had significantly diminished the market power of famers and their ability to negotiate on farm gate price.

 Roma’s Award ambition involved a study tour of Europe to gain a greater understanding of the issue and to build an awareness campaign to effect discussion amongst farmers on the changed market environment.

 The study tour took in eight countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden, and involved a total of 40 meetings with industry representatives and numerous farm and milk processing tours.

 The tour confirmed the importance with which European farmers regard the issue of supply chain ownership and the importance of ownership as an issue that Australian farmers need to be concerned and informed about.

 The tour also confirmed that to attain the best milk prices, farmers should own or be able to influence more of the supply chain than milk production alone.

 The next stage of Roma’s project was to orchestrate a campaign that raised awareness and informed dairy farmers on industry structure and supply chain ownership and engaged them to become proactively involved in their industry and build avenues where they can influence their returns and have greater input into their future profitability.

 At a personal level, Roma’s knowledge of the issue grew exponentially, along with her capacity to engage and speak on the issue and to represent her dairy farming community.

Barb Madden

2009 National Runner-Up and Queensland State Winner - Barb Madden

Beef Industry Indigenous Alliance

At the time of the Award, Barb Madden was co-owner and Chief Finance Officer of Smithfield Feedlot, a 20,000 head intensive beef cattle enterprise in south east Queensland and Chief Finance Officer of the Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council.

Barb’s Award ambition is to establish a workable business model to forge partnerships between indigenous beef producers and the broader beef industry.  

The Beef Industry Indigenous Alliance (BIIA) pilot project was developed to investigate issues associated with creating those partnerships and working together through the supply chain.

The project aimed to give indigenous producers; greater insight into the supply chain and its commercial benefits and the beef industry; new connections with indigenous producers as custodians of vast tracks of indigenous land, running hundreds of thousands of head of cattle.

The first step was to create a local model that could capture the knowledge. practices, resources and relationships critical to underpinning the work.

 The local model engaged two separate indigenous beef producers, the Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council and the Indigenous Land Corporation with Smithfield feedlot to provide the mainstream beef management and training.

The BIIA local model focused on four critical parameters:

  • Cattle from indigenous properties had to be used. 160 head were sourced from Cherbourg Shire Council and the Indigenous Land Corporation.
  • Identification of suitable indigenous trainees to be involved.
  • Engagement of Smithfield feedlot management team.
  • Engagement of key beef supply chain experts.

Comprehensive training of indigenous producers was critical to the success of the local model. Eight on-site training sessions were provided and included indigenous beef operation assessment, livestock induction and handling feeding systems training, beef marketing information, close out performance assessment and assessment of end product. On-site training was conducted across a number of sites including Smithfield Feedlot, Kilcoy Pastoral Company Export Works and Woolworths Brismeat Domestic Works tours.

BIIA confronted a number of challenges along the way, including entrenched negative perspectives within the mainstream beef industry, maintaining effective engagement with the indigenous businesses, understanding both parties resistance to change and gathering meaningful financial data to support the project.  

 The pilot highlighted the importance of communication to opening up new working relationships through business ventures, shared training and employment opportunities and revealed new opportunities for pooling employment and training at a regional level.

 The project resulted in a number of key findings: 

  • Breaking down traditional social and cultural barriers opened up opportunities for commercial relationships between mainstream and indigenous beef producers.
  • Development of supply chain relationships provided critical information on downstream processor and customer needs while improved understanding of the supply chain translated into greater capacity to make informed decisions and critical analysis of business operations.
  • Selection of appropriate indigenous trainees was critical and targeted workplace based training and assessment proved the most appropriate method of training delivery.
  • The principles of the BIIA supply chain can be applied more broadly to other beef industry sectors.

The pilot also demonstrated a number of potential new opportunities for the Australian beef industry. The model has the capacity to be replicated into other geographical regions, business operations and indigenous businesses and applied to other beef industry sectors. The model also demonstrated a real marketing opportunity in indigenous branded beef.

On a personal level the project challenged Barb to take the lead in ensuring open communication and collaboration between key industry players to ensure the project achieved its objectives.

The beef industry was broadly supportive of the project with industry experts willing to donate their time and knowledge and willing to explore new opportunities for engagement. Barb was in discussions with Meat and Livestock Australia regarding the future expansion of BIIA to different geographical locations and beef supply chains.

Susi Tegan

2009 South Australian Winner - Susi Tegen

Incubating and Commercializing New Business Opportunities

At the time of the Award, Susi Tegen was a livestock and crop farmer from the Limestone Coast in the south east of South Australia and the Managing Director of FREE Eyre.

FREE Eyre is a primary producer owned and driven company which seeks to identify, incubate and commercialize new business opportunities for the Eyre Peninsula.  FREE Eyre was the result of several years of drought, unreliable commodity prices and widespread fires and was born out of the need for the region’s farmers to take control of their future by having a stronger influence over the supply chain, building alliances and value adding opportunities the region’s primary produce. 

Susi believes that groups of farmers by working together are able to achieve economies of scale that brings bargaining power, better research, development and innovation, and consistency of supply and quality. They are then able to not only change to meet demand but to also drive change. 

Her Award ambition was to research ventures similar to FREE Eyre in Europe, the United States and Canada, to learn from their successes and setbacks in developing business ventures, in setting the foundations and in managing relationships in such a way they are able to grow and succeed. She believes the research will be of benefit not only to the Eyre Peninsula but to greater rural Australia.

Kirsten Skraha

2009 Western Australian Winner - Kirsten Skraha

Environmental Management and the Australian Viticulture Industry

At the time of the Award, Kirsten Skraha was a mixed farmer from Boyup Brook in Western Australia’s south west and Coordinator of the Blackwood Basin Landcare Group’s BestFarms Environmental Management Systems (EMS).

Kirsten’s Award ambition is to explore and promote better environmental practices and management within the viticulture industry, to supports its future economic and environmental sustainability.

Her ambition is relevant to all primary producers who are required to demonstrate and commit to implementing sustainable practices and environmental credentials. She believes that these credentials will become increasingly important to producers in gaining customer recognition and market share at a time of surplus grape and wine production.

Kirsten has seen environmental management systems develop and become widely accepted within the viticulture industry. Her particular focus was the many smaller producers, who do not necessarily have the resources to implement broad scale changes.

Her four key award objectives were to:

  • Improve her knowledge of working practical systems within the viticulture industry.
  • Document and communicate the stories and knowledge captured to motivate and encourage others to adapt such practices within industry.
  • Become involved in and contribute to the industry at a state and national level.
  • Encourage other rural women to actively work towards their goals and to be proud of the contributions they make to their own communities and industries.

Kirsten undertook a two week study trip to research environmental practices within the viticulture industry. She met with individual producers, companies and regional representatives in Adelaide and regional South Australia including McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills and in regional NSW including Orange and Mudgee.

Resources and relevant practices learned from the trip were incorporated into the BestFarms Environmental Management System. The research trip also provided valuable producer feedback into the National Environmental Stewardship Recognition Framework (Entwine) developed by the Wine Federation of Australia and launched in November 2009.

The research trip highlighted to Kirsten the importance of a higher level of communication and collaboration across wine producing regions, on the diversity of environmental management and production efficiency initiatives, and the importance of a national recognition framework that is flexible enough to accommodate to the diversity of drivers, while providing a clear message to consumers on industry’s environmental performance.

Kirsten was able to communicate the information acquired from the study trip as key note speaker to two significant industry conferences, the 2009 Western Australian Wine Outlook Conference and the TQA ‘Keep It real’ Conference, along with a one day workshop ‘ Good Environmental Practices in Viticulture’.

She believes that by capturing and communicating ‘good news’ stories and sharing with producers their knowledge and experiences with environmental management, she has helped raise awareness of the importance of environmental stewardship while assisting in facilitating open communication and better understanding of the challenges producers face across the industry.

Kirsten, in partnership with the Boyup Brook Telecentre, organised Women’s Days and also spoke at three key events which attracted in total 600 women from across the south west and south coast of Western Australia.

On a personal level, Kirsten’s knowledge of viticulture production and EMS application grew exponentially, along with her industry credentials and speaking opportunities, so improving her confidence and her standing as an active change agent within her industry and community.

Jane Lovell

2009 Tasmanian Winner - Jane Lovell

A United Approach to Environmental Assurance in Horticulture

At the time of the Award, Jane Lovell was Managing Director of Tasmanian Quality Assured Inc, a not-for-profit association established to assist producers meet relevant food safety and quality assurance requirements.

Jane has played a significant role in advancing the debate on quality and environmental assurance and food safety systems throughout the supply chain. She initiated the first ‘On Farm Food Safety and Quality Assurance Conference’ in 1997. The conference rapidly developed to become the premier event for food safety and quality assurance for primary production and in particular for the horticulture industry. She has been involved in numerous presentations and published widely and has contributed to the development of a number of food safety and environmental codes and industry quality systems.

Jane’s Award ambition was to develop an environmental assurance framework that promotes the uptake of environmentally sustainable practices, but takes into account the commercial realities of primary production.

Food safety and quality assurance systems on farm in Australia have been plagued with criticism and resistance, the result, in part, of demands on growers to introduce multiple systems to meet the requirements of different retailers, processors and government authorities.

At the ‘Keep It Real’ Conference in August 2007, primary producers were united in their call for a single environmental assurance system. The concept progressed in 2008 at a meeting of horticultural industry leaders, where it was agreed a standard recognition framework be investigated.

Jane’s ambition demanded that she possess advanced facilitation skills, to enable her to bring a range of stakeholders together to support the creation of the Environmental Systems Recognition Framework for the Australian Horticultural Industry.

She attended the International Association of Facilitation Conference and associated workshops, held in Oxford in September 2009, to explore a range of facilitation approaches and investigate organisational analysis and transformational techniques.

 Jane’s broad Award objective was to avoid the need for Australian primary producers to implement and manage multiple environmental assurance systems. This translated into her real Award objective of enhancing her capacity to facilitate conversations around the expectations of retailers and producers and to negotiate a mutually agreeable outcome.

The methodology used involved communication with growers, grower organisations, processors and retailers, all involved in the supply chain, combined with a review of existing national and international environmental systems, before drafting a relevant and workable framework. The draft framework was delivered to industry at a national workshop held in conjunction with the ‘Keep it Real 2009’ conference.

Support for the development of the framework and associated recognition processes was also received from the Federal Government, through the Caring for Our Country Program, with the project managed by Horticulture Australia Ltd.

The draft framework addressed a number of specific compliance areas including: chemical management, fertilizer and soil additive management, land & soil management, water management, biodiversity, waste & pollution management, energy, climate change, internal systems management, system integrity control and auditors.

 While Jane’s Award project achieved its broad aim of trialling a recognition framework and process, it was not without its challenges and was yet to receive the full endorsement of the major domestic retailers.

The framework was a ground-breaking achievement and has the potential, once signed off by all parties, to deliver significant and sustainable benefits to a range of stakeholders while minimizing the cost of compliance to primary producers.

At a personal level, the Award has provided Jane with the resources to improve upon her facilitation skills and enabled her the opportunity to network and advocate more broadly across the total supply chain.

Mischelle Hill

2009 Northern Territory Winner - Mischelle Hill

Australian Grown & Produced – The Best Option

At the time of the Award, Mischelle Hill and her husband had recently relocated to Adelaide, having spent the previous decade intrinsically involved in the family mango plantation in the Northern Territory.

Mischelle’s Award ambition was to gain essential knowledge of and contacts in the major food regions in Australia, to promote Australian grown and made produce, and to establish an Australian made and grown, direct from farm to food outlet business, to promote Australian produce and support higher returns back to Australian farmers.

At the time of the Award there were no specialist stores that focused only on retailing and servicing Australian gourmet food items.

Mischelle’s project involved a study tour of a number of mainland states, to grow her knowledge and contacts in gourmet produce and related value adding enterprises. The study tour included Perth, Darwin, Adelaide and regional NSW and South Australia and included visits to a number of gourmet produce enterprises including Maggie’s Place in WA, Food Connect in SA, and Jones the Grocer and Derriwill Farms in Adelaide.

In addition Mischelle undertook a professional development program at the Academy of Enhanced Performance.

Mischelle’s ambition was to have the business up and running by 2011. She separated her enterprise Ausflavours into two entities, allowing Ausflavours to focus on the marketing and promoting of Australian produce and retaining the profits to support various projects which assist rural Australia, with the second entity the Business Principal to continue to act as a consulting and auditing company, focusing on the development and the application of quality and environmental principles for rural industries.

Following her Award tenure Mischelle completed a Masters in Environmental and Business Management through the Newcastle University. She was invited on to the Board of Heart Kids SA, an organisation committed to raising awareness and providing support to those people affected by childhood heart disease.



2008 New South Wales Winner – Tracey Knowland

The use of native plants in the domestic Australian gardening industry

At the time of the Award, Tracey Knowland owned and operated, in partnership with her husband Stuart, the Bangalow Wholesale Nursery in the Bryon Bay hinterland. The nursery’s focus is on the production of premium advanced Australian native trees and shrubs for the Australian landscape and development industry.

They are both actively involved in the nursery industry with Stuart appointed Chair of the Northern Rivers branch of the National Nursery and Garden Industry Association. Tracey is also a member of the Nursery Industry Association as well as being a co-ordinator of the Bangalow Business Women’s Group.

Tracey’s passion is for trialling and developing superior selections of small to medium Australian temperate and subtropical rainforest and coastal tolerant trees, not only for the landscape and development industry, but as a beautiful and sustainable alternative in Australian backyards and gardens.

A number of their tree selections were under trial for plant breeders rights. They were licenced growers of Ozbreed’s Advanced Australian Tree Range being promoted to landscape architects, local councils and tree growers.

With the implications that climate change presented to water availability, along with wildlife habitat and weed invasion, Tracey believed the domestic Australian gardening industry should look more seriously at native plants. She had been lobbying the industry to develop a labelling system that clearly identifies native plants, to allow gardeners to make informed choices and to reduce the risk of weed incursion.

Tracey planned to use the bursary to fund her participation in the 2008 National Nursery & Garden Industry Association National Conference “Seachange for an Essential Industry” to be held in Adelaide. The conference was to be followed by a study tour of Victoria’s largest wholesale nurseries.

Tracey hoped to investigate sustainable growing methods, water saving, recycling, treatment and irrigation along with current tree selections and growing trends.


2008 Victoria Winner – Lisa Mahon

Innovation and the development of a network of herb growers

At the time of the Award, Lisa Mahon owned and operated with her partner Bromley Organics, a certified organic herb farm, specializing in the production of value added dried herbs. Bromley Organics produced six dried herb crops and was one of the largest producers of dried processed stinging nettle in Australia.

In 2006 Bromley Organics won the Most Outstanding Dedication and Innovation in Production Management Grower Award from Southern Light Herbs, against a field of 80 other commercial certified organic herb farmers.

Lisa’s vision was to strengthen the certified organic dried herb industry through the sharing of new information and innovation and the development of a network of growers. She believed the greatest improvements for small to medium scale herb growers would come from the development and implementation of new labour saving technology and in particular improved harvesting equipment.

While there was harvesting equipment available in Australia, it was aimed at the larger scale growers, with the five machines produced commercially in New Zealand at the time unavailable in Australia.

Lisa proposed to use the bursary to undertake a study tour of New Zealand to investigate their harvesting equipment and to see their machines in operation. She also proposed a study tour within Australia of certified organic herb growers to look at other harvesting methods and to extend her network of growers.


2008 National Winner and Queensland State Winner - Ros Smerdon

Benchmarking the Australian avocado industry

Ros Smerdon is an avocado, macadamia and custard apple grower from the Glasshouse Mountains and Chairman of the grower owned cooperative company Nature’s Fruit Company. At the time of the Award she was Vice President of the Australian Custard Apple Growers Association and a member of numerous other horticultural organizations.

Nature’s Fruit Company accounts for around ten percent of the national avocado crop and under her Chair she turned the company round to one of profitability.

Ros is passionate about growers working cooperatively together, to ensure the market consistent lines of supply of quality fruit and in turn ensure growers retain some market power.

There is increasing financial pressure facing the Australian avocado industry, with growers in 2007 witnessing the worst prices for many years, and significant production increases and pressure from imports forecast in the years ahead.

Ros believes the avocado industry will have to become more innovative in product development and marketing, if growers are to remain viable. She sees potential in product innovations such as fresh cut snap frozen product, and new opportunities to grow demand in pharmaceutical, food oil and cosmetic production.

She planned to undertake a study tour of South Africa to benchmark the Westfalia grower cooperative avocado operations and value adding processing plant with the Australian industry. The Westfalia group is held up as one of the most efficient and innovative  grower cooperative’s worldwide.

Her project was to benchmark the state of the Australian avocado industry with that of the South Africa and investigate methods of value adding and oil extraction employed in South Africa and their application to the Australian industry. The outcome of her project was to be a report with recommendations to assist the cooperative venture into value adding and oil extraction, to relieve supply pressure in the Australian industry, through uptake of second grade fruit.


2008 South Australia Winner – Domenica Latorre

Educational programs and practices that benefit rural women

At the time of the Award, Domenica Latorre had over eighteen years experience in horticultural and agribusiness management and over fourteen years experience working with community bodies at a local, state and national level, working with the rural counseling program, TAFE SA and other training bodies. She was sitting on the Regional Advisory Board to the SA Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission, on the National Association of Rural Counseling Services and at a state level on the Rural Financial Counseling Service SA and the Riverland Multicultural Forum.

She specializes in working with the cultural and linguistically diverse and has undertaken a number of research projects to raise awareness of workforce development issues.

Domenica is acutely concerned with the significant shortage (and continual decline) of people, skills and workforce currently gripping rural and regional communities, with the culturally and linguistically diverse the most affected group. She believes that many rural women have demonstrated resourcefulness and resilience, in establishing small businesses and generating income critical to the sustainability of their family and their farms.

Her ambition was to focus on exploring educational programs and practices that will benefit rural women, particularly those from CALD backgrounds, their communities and agriculture generally.

Domenica had previously designed and delivered a successful pilot for rural women from CALD backgrounds, covering Certificate 111 Business Frontline Management and is currently delivering a customized training program in rural business management for farm enterprises.

She planned to use the bursary to research successful rural business training models, both in Australia and in Europe, to analyse training systems, methodologies and resources and to quantify the most successful relationships between training and sustainable business practices.

She hoped her research would result in training programs that best met the needs of rural women, including women from CALD backgrounds that will in turn contribute to the future profitability of their farm businesses and agriculture. The research was also to be used to develop a training model to support a team of women to train and pass on their knowledge to others in the community.

Maggie Edmonds

2008 National Runner-up and Western Australia Winner - Maggie Edmonds

Farm stalls and information centre for fostering smaller producers

Maggie Edmonds has a long history of involvement in Western Australia’s agricultural industries, most notably in the protea flower, passionfruit and olive industries.

Maggie instigated the first local protea growers association in Western Australia and went on to become President of the International Protea Association, responsible for bringing the 6th Biennial Protea Association to Perth.

She established the Gingin Regional Olive Growers Association (GROGs) and organised Western Australia’s first and subsequent two Olive Festivals. She was on the Board of the Australian Olive Association and is a trained judge of olive oil and table olives.

Maggie has also been actively involved in the establishment of farmers markets, having instigated the Wanneroo Farmers Markets and the Gingin markets.

Maggie has a solid knowledge and experience in agricultural produce, and in particularly how to value add and niche market it and a passion for sharing her learning’s with producers across the region.

She proposed to establish an information centre and retail outlet, to provide small to medium producers with practical advice and contacts on all aspects of their products and a retail outlet for the sale of their products.

She was to use the bursary to undertake a business improvement program and to fund a study tour to South Africa to learn from their strong tradition of farm stalls and of fostering smaller producers, before establishing the framework for her agricultural information centre.


2008 Tasmania Winner – Jeanette Fisher

At the time of the Award, Jeanette Fisher was President of the Professional Calf Rearers’ Association of Australia and a dairy heifer management consultant.

At the time, Jeanette had close to a decade worth of experience in the dairy industry and in calf rearing and established her consulting business Heifermax in an effort to encourage dairy farmers to adopt more up to date and more financially profitable and animal welfare friendly methods of calf and heifer management.

In 2002 she was awarded the Jack Green Churchill Fellowship, which allowed her to travel to six countries to examine calf and heifer management techniques, specifically veal production, neonatal bovine immunology and the use of natural therapies to reduce antibiotic use.

A cow’s lifetime milk production is determined by three factors: genetics, feeding during the period from birth to first calving and feeding from the time the cow enters the herd. Jeanette believed of these three factors, feed from birth to first calving is the most neglected and impacts negatively on the other two factors.  She believed the financial cost of inadequately reared heifers was far reaching and included the cost of extra heifers, of lost milk production from cows that fail to reach their genetic potential and of catch up growth in mated heifers. She also saw room for reform in industry management practices, and believed the person rearing the calves should also be responsible for heifer management.


Jeanette’s vision for agriculture is an Australian dairy industry in which all replacement heifers have the necessary standard of care from birth through to first calving to become productive members of the milking herd.

Her ambition was to raise industry awareness of the economic importance of good heifer management and to provide learning opportunities to enable calf rearers to become heifer managers thereby acquiring the skills to take heifers from birth through to first calving.

She planned to attend the USA Dairy Calf and Heifer Association Annual Conference and while in the US spend time with internationally recognized calf rearing specialist Dr Sam Leadley. The conference showcased all the most recent research from the vast US industry and surpassed anything the Australian Association had the capacity to stage, while working with Dr Leadley would further develop her dairy consulting management skills.

Jeannette believed the knowledge she would acquire and impart back to her industry, had the potential to not only significantly improve the management practices and the financial profitability of calf and heifer management, but also to up skill women and to elevate their status within the dairy industry to one of more than just the ‘farmers wife’.


2008 Northern Territory Winner – Norma Higgins

At the time of the Award, Norma Higgins boasted some 30 years experience in the Northern Territory pastoral and horticultural industries and owned and operated, with her husband, two horticultural blocks outside Katherine comprising of a total of 6,000 mango trees, 1,000 timber plantation trees and 200 exotic fruit trees.

Norma is very active within her industry, having been involved in the Katherine Horticultural Association since its inauguration and the Primary Industry Training Advisory Council. She, as part of a group of local rural women, was involved in the Primary Industries Leadership Action Group which established the Katherine branch of NT Women in Agriculture. The group was vitally concerned about the future of the region’s horticultural growers, with the majority of medium sized farmers forced to seek off farm income and a number of smaller farmers simply walking away from their farms. They formed the Katherine Region Food Processing Group and were successful in securing funding to establish a community commercial kitchen.

Norma is passionate about future viability of the region’s farmers and the quality of their produce and products and about the future welfare of the town of Katherine and its community. She proposed to establish Katherine’s first weekly producers markets as a venue for showcasing and selling the region’s products and produce.

 She believed the markets would not only provide a new avenue to improve the viability of the region’s farmers, but also an opportunity for the local indigenous people to showcase and sell their products and an opportunity to reinvigorate the township of Katherine.

She proposed to use the bursary to fund a study tour of markets in other states, to better understand the mechanics of establishing and operating a farmers market, and to fund the development of a business plan to establish the viability of a market and a website to profile the Katherine market, its produce and products.



2007 New South Wales Winner - Eleanor Cook

A Community Foundation

Eleanor Cook is an organic beef cattle producer and a strong community advocate for the Coolah district and for regional communities. She was instrumental in securing $1.5 million worth of community development funds for Coolah which provided for the Heritage Restoration Program, the Community Technology Centre and the Healthy Living Program. 

Eleanor’s Award ambition was to establish a Community Foundation, to minimize the fund raising effort required by smaller rural communities, and provide a system where individuals, families and businesses could bequeath or donate funds to their chosen rural community or to a specific project within a community. 

Eleanor undertook research into a number of different models, including the Macro Melbourne, the Buderim Border Trust and Tomorrow Today  Benalla in Victoria and the de Le Hunte Shire model in South Australia.  She also used the Bursary to attend the 2007 Philanthropy Australia Conference in Albury, the annual conference of executives of philanthropy foundations from across Australia. 

Eleanor found the task of establishing a community foundation to be significantly more complex than first anticipated, in particular the intricacies of tax laws and the importance of setting up the correct structure initially for the long term success of the entity.  She concluded that a feasibility study and a lot more research would be required to compare the structures and objectives of existing foundations; to determine which best fits the needs of isolated rural and regional communities. 

On a personal level Eleanor was accepted as a participant into the Australian Rural Leadership Program, which she has found immensely challenging. The Award created the opportunity for her to work with the Graingrowers  Association to engage more women in the grain industry. In addition the media and public speaking opportunities had were valuable to her personal and professional development and to the profile of the Award.


2007 National Winner and Victorian State Winner - Deborah Bain

National Farm Day

Deb Bain is a wool and lamb producer from western Victoria and the founder of Farm Day. The vision behind Farm Day is to foster a greater understanding of farming amongst urban Australians through a farming family sharing their life with a city family for a day of fun, friendship and understanding, and an insight into how the modern farmer operates and how it affects our daily lives. 

Farm Day was successfully trialed in Victoria in 2006 and Deb used the Award and its Bursary to grow her business and corporate governance skills to take Farm Day to all other states in 2008.  On the last weekend of May 2007 Farm Day went national and was hailed a huge success. More than 1000 families registered to take part in the event and 600 families, connected up. For many, it was their first time on a farm.

Farm Day’s national debut was the result of Deb bringing together a group of people and organisations that shared a common vision for bridging the urban-rural divide.  In the process she established a not for profit company, Farmday Ltd and appointed a board of directors. Sponsorship for the event was provided by RIRDC and Meat and Livestock Australia. Advice was sought from numerous sectors across Australia to gain insight into the rural landscape in each state and an understanding of the effects of the divide. A website was developed that simplified the matching process and enabled participants to register on line.

In 2007 the work was managed by Deb but 2008 saw the event grow substantially and a secretary appointed and IT infrastructure put in place to manage the increased traffic, with five local women employed to help with the administration.  In total one thousand families registered to participate, of which over 600 families were matched. 

The event has significantly improved awareness of farmers and their commitment to environmental sustainability. 90% of city respondents now have a better understanding of the role of farming in their daily lives with 98% more likely to buy Australian produce as a result. In addition 86% of city participants believe Australian farmers produce the safest food in the world and are committed the enhancing and protecting the environment, with 99% of city participants affirming farmers as important members of Australian society. 

The work involved in achieving the success of this event was aided greatly by the skills, and confidence gained by participating in the AICD course and other training offered during her RIRDC year. 

Deb was invited to participate in the Australia 2020 Summit, and was subsequently appointed to the National eHealth Transitional Authority and the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Council. During 2008 Deb travelled extensively and spoke at numerous events, including the Rural Press Clubs of Victoria, NSW and Queensland, the Rural Women’s Network and the Liebe Group of WA, Leadership Plus in Melbourne, Ballarat Business Leadership Group and the Loddon Murray Leadership Group, along with the Marcus Oldham Ag College and Secondary Careers Councilors for Dookie Agricultural College.

On a personal note the Award elevated Deb’s profile and that of Farm Day. It provided her with a platform to communicate the voice of primary industries to a broader audience and to debate issues and challenges pertinent to primary industries and its people.


2007 Queensland Winner - Sonya Maley

Sugar Cane Separation Technology

At the time of the Award, Sonya Maley was Managing Director of Resis Australia, a company she established to commercialize the technology of Cane Separation. 

Sonya’s Award ambition is to improve the sugar industry’s future and the rural communities which depend on it, through the commercialization of this new value adding technology. 

Cane separation technology allows for each part of the cane plant to be cleanly separated into wax, rind fibre, pith fibre and high purity juice for further value adding. 

Sonya used the bursary to undertake a study tour of the United States, the birth place of the technology, where she met with the technology’s developers and food processing companies to assess the technical constraints to its commercialization. She found the tour invaluable in identifying the knowledge gaps and new areas of research and alliances required for the technology’s commercialization. 

A collaborative research program was forged with the James Cook University focusing on processing sugar cane juice through specialized membrane filtration technology. A master collaborative agreement with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries & Fisheries with their Innovative Food Technologies Unit in Brisbane was to develop new healthy food products from cane utilizing the separation technology as the primary front end processing equipment.

In addition, Federal Government funding was secured through the AusIndustry Commercial Ready Plus Program, to develop new processing technologies for separated cane and to independently verify the health science behind cane juice and dietary fibres. 

Early indications of price improvements pointed to a three-fold increase based on the juice product alone, and did not include the potential opportunities from the fibre and wax products. Results suggested the antioxidant content of the juice products to be higher than that found in freshly squeezed apple juice, presenting major opportunities to substitute imported apple and grape juice concentrate as the major sweetening base for health and fruit drinks. 

The impact of the project was best measured by the rapid increase in the technology’s development since its completion in July 2007, with early stage commercial production anticipated in 2009 in collaboration with small and large Australian owned food and beverage manufacturers and the first large scale processing plant expected to be established in 2010. 

On a personal level the skills and information learned through the Australian Institute of Company Directors course proved extremely valuable to the development of Sonya’s company while the media platform, public speaking engagements and networks provided through the Award proved invaluable to the pursuit of her vision of commercialization of cane technology.


2007 National Runner-up and South Australian State Winner - Abi Spehr

Working Her Out - Research into the Mother & Daughter-in-Law dynamic and its Impact on Family Farms

Abi Spehr is partner in a fourth generation mixed grazing and cropping property on South Australia’s Limestone Coast and a successful rural facilitator, coach and mediator. As a city girl moving into a very traditional farming family, Abi is committed to understanding the dynamics of farming families and the impact of the dynamics of relationships on the long term sustainability of the farm business.

Abi’s Award ambition was to write a book on the relationship between the mothers and daughters-in-law and its impact on the farming family business to be titled “Working Her Out”. Her study sought to understand why and how mothers and daughters-in-law negotiate their relationships, highlighting how their experiences have impacted on the farming family business, succession and on family relationships.  Her research included case studies of numerous individual relationships combined with workshops, interviews and correspondence. Workshops were held in the York Peninsula, the Limestone Coast and Kangaroo Island in South Australia and at Kukerin in Western Australia. 

A critical number of women attended the workshops, representing both the mother and daughter-in-law viewpoints, with a number of the elder women representing both roles, so providing a richness of insight into the dual challenges. A number of critical enabling themes evolved from the study including:

  • Over and above the challenges intrinsic in any new mother daughter-in-law relationship, the farming industry brings with it its own unique problems.
  • Power and control by the mother-in -law in regard to personal and professional needs, and at the exclusion to farm business decision making, was an outstanding theme.
  • Traditional family roles, farming family culture and common respect and decency all play a part.

The research highlighted the complexity of Australian rural women’s lives and more specifically the lives of mothers and daughters-in-law. The study also provided insights into the actions and transfigurations of individuals when dealing with farm businesses.  Most importantly analysis of these women’s stories emphasized the need to recognize the unique discourse of the mother and daughter-in-law relationship and its impact on the farming family business.  Abi’s research document received strong interest from Primary Industries and Resources South Australia to use the paper for the purposes of policy and planning. The paper was released to PIRSA, the South Australian Farmers Federation, the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and Landmark. 

Abi was in strong demand to speak on the topic and attended the Social Science Conference in Tuscany where the paper was accepted for presentation and debate within the program. She believes the paper has contributed in a progressive way to public discussion and debate on a very significant farming family conversation. On a personal level, Abi believes the research has had a deep and direct impact on her relationships within her extended family.


2007 Western Australian Winner - Pamela Lincoln

ROSS Markets - Good, clean and fair food direct from paddock to plate

Pamela Lincoln is a boutique winemaker producing the Oranje Tractor label and a passionate and proactive advocate for the Great Southern region and its primary produce. Pam was responsible for establishing the highly successful weekly Albany farmers markets in 2002. The success of those markets meant they had been ‘full’ for the previous three years, equating to lost opportunities for new producers and for the smaller satellite towns surrounding Albany. 

Pam’s Award ambition was to establish a series of ROSS markets at wineries within the region on a weekly rotational basis. The original plan was that weekly markets be established along the regional, organic or sustainable and seasonal principles at wineries in at least three towns in the Great Southern region.  The principle aim of the markets was to provide fledging agricultural businesses and established food producers with new opportunities to direct market their goods, thereby maximising profits, minimising food miles and ensuring sustainability of their business and increased food security for the region.

The process of initiating a new series of markets proved exhaustive, from planning and conducting information workshops, canvassing producers and stakeholders, establishing a management committee, incorporating a body to plan and manage the project, to applying for additional funding from local government and philanthropic organisations, developing a market charter, business plan, marketing plan and venue agreement, through to the appointment of a market manager and market coordinator. 

The first ROSS market was successfully conducted at Plantagenet Winery at Mt Barker, and was attended by several hundred people who bought all six stallholders out of produce. 

The ROSS markets were officially launched at Oranje Tractor Winery during the Taste of Great Southern Festival, with all markets having completed at least two trades in each location.  While it is too early to measure the benefit of the markets to the region, all participating producers had access to new markets and demand for their product and all have as a result reported increased turnover. 

On a personal level, the Award provided Pam with further training and development, particularly through participating in the Australian Institute of Company Directors course, and afforded her the opportunity to see her vision become a reality.

Rachel Treasure

2007 Tasmania Winner - Rachael Treasure

Working Dog Training e-Book

Rachael Treasure is a sheep producer, working dog breeder and trainer and an internationally acclaimed author. Her novels, Jillaroo, The Stockman and The Rouseabout have been written to inspire the next generation into agriculture and to educate the mainstream on farming, and have been published and sold into the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe.

The focus of Rachael’s Award activity was to write a working dog training book to educate people in the livestock industry on how to handle their dogs and their livestock with more empathy and enjoyment, not just for the business bottom line, but for the benefit and enrichment of their lives. 

Her desire to have the information available to the public in a more efficient and cost effective way, saw her project evolve from a traditional to an e-book publication to be rolled out in stages. The first stage was the publication of a series of electronic dog training books available cheaply via the internet. In developing the book Rachael had to document the entire process of training up a pup; that is engaging a pup in the training process and then recording it. The second stage of the process was downloadable dog training video clips, available in two minute segments on You Tube that provide visual documentation of training a pup from start to finish. 

Rachael believed the final stage, involving taking the dogs out to the yards and recording their actions onto an iPod, would be the most powerful, allowing others to utilise the clips in their own yard while training up their own young dogs. 

Rachael believes this information is one of the first of its kind to be available is this format to cater specifically to the rural community.

She officially launched her e-book titled ‘Working Women and Hot Dogs” at Agfest - Tasmania’s premier field day event and conducted training workshops at a Tasmanian Rural Women’s Gathering.

The information was planned to be available in a printed book format and a DVD format once an appropriate publisher was confirmed.

Rachael believed having the information available in a number of different mediums would maximise its reach, with the benefits way beyond dog trainers and rural communities. 

On a personal level, the Award has provided Rachael with the funding to attend a Low Stress Livestock Handling course which she found immensely valuable and the Award has extended her skills and knowledge base to include competencies in e-book publishing and in film production.


2007 Northern Territory Winner - Tracey Leo

Northern Territory’s horticultural industry’s future labour requirements

At the time of the Award, Tracey Leo had been intrinsically involved in the Northern Territory horticultural industry for the previous 20 years, from mango farms, to tourism bus operator, to tropical fruit and flower marketer to human resources manager. Throughout her seasonal employment in primary industries Tracey continued to develop her own business. 

At the time of the Award Tracey was employed as Principal Officer of the Northern Territory Horticultural Association, with her primary responsibility being employment and human resource issues including labour shortages.  She believed that the Northern Territory was still in its early stages of economic development, and that primary industries and the rural communities it supports will be critical to the general economy reaching its full potential, and that they must be nurtured and supported.  She also believed that with labour costs representing over 50% of total production costs for many rural industries, understanding labour requirements and developing strategies to address shortages would be critical to the Territory’s rural industries future and success. 

Tracey’s proposed activity was to develop a profile of the Northern Territory’s horticultural industry’s future labour requirements and the capacity for industry to manage those requirements.  She planned to travel to horticultural regions across the Territory, to interview growers and stakeholders first hand and learn from their experiences and challenges of securing labour. The trip would also include the National Harvest Labour Information Service in Mildura to review strategies employed by more mature horticultural regions.

Tracey believed that by conducting the review with strong input from its growers and stakeholders, the industry would be able develop a comprehensive understanding of future labour requirements and the capacity for industry to meet those requirements. She believes that only through substantiated data would industry be able to develop successful future harvest labour strategies.



2006 New South Wales Winner - Kate Schwager

The Rural Town’s Web Package

Kate Schwager is partner in a cotton and wheat share farming enterprise outside Wee Waa in northern NSW and is Coordinator of Wincott, Australia’s largest network of women in cotton. 

Kate was instrumental in developing one of the country’s first rural town websites for Wee Waa, to help promote the region’s agriculture and tourism along with the local businesses and communities it supports. The website became the central portal for the town and a major source of news and information covering the community as well as a major tool for businesses to promote their services and products. 

Her commitment to agriculture and to the rural communities it supports led her to instigating the Rural Towns Package, an easy to use web development program which builds small town websites in a cost and user friendly way. 

Kate’s project was to take the Rural Towns Package to communities across the state, as a means of promoting the importance of agriculture to rural communities and attracting tourists and with them much needed revenue to rural areas. 

Her objective was that the websites be established by rural women, who have the necessary intimate knowledge of their rural communities, the towns, the businesses and the people, while offering them the opportunity of an alternate income source to their farming businesses. 

The package was promoted to a multitude of forums in both New South Wales and Queensland, including the Country Women’s Association Annual Conference in Narrabri, the Australian Cotton Industry Conference at the Gold Coast and the Women on Farm’s Gathering at Grafton. 

The package was also promoted across a number of media mediums, including the Australian Women’s Weekly, the Land, ABC radio, and Country Style magazine. 

Some thirty five women in rural towns made inquiries about the package with some seven rural town sites established as a result of the package, including Cobar, Narrabri, Moree, Trangie, St George, Hughenden and Wee Waa. 

The websites proved extremely successful to those rural towns involved on a number of fronts, with Wee Waa and Narrabri both recording 45-55 advertisers, all sites generating revenue over and above costs and Narrabri and Wee Waa achieving significant revenue results. 

Kate believes the Rural Towns Package has been the catalyst for a number of positive outcomes. 

She believed the package, for the cotton industry as a whole, improved the awareness of the industry and promoted a more positive understanding of its management practices along with improved publicity of Wincott-Women’s Industry Network Cotton as a network for resources, skills and knowledge, and the opportunity of a new business venture and alternate income stream for a number of rural women. 

She also believed the package, for the community, brought the towns involved and their people to a larger and previously unknown audience,  initiated networks and conversations between people inside and outside the towns and brought new investment and tourism into the towns and the broader regional community. 

Kate, at a personal level, as a result of her twelve month tenure as NSW Award 2006 Winner dramatically improved her public speaking skills, her leadership skills and credibility as a leader within the industry as well as improved the financial prospects for her business. 

The launch of the umbrella site, Southern Cross Communities, was scheduled to take place in 2008. The site would, for the first time, network the towns and communities involved, together with other towns in cyberspace. Southern Cross Communities would become a showcase of rural towns with the objective of promoting the large variety of agricultural industries in Australia.


2006 Victoria Winner - Yvonne Jennings

Yvonne, in partnership with her husband Barry, created their farm machinery business Murray Mallee Machinery out of necessity, when the 1980’s drought and seven bad seasons out of nine forced the closure on their irrigation and dryland farms. 

At the time of the Award, Yvonne was President of Swan Hill Business and Professional Women and under her leadership the organisation’s membership tripled.  She had the privilege of being successfully nominated by this group to run for the Queen’s Baton Relay for the Commonwealth Games. Yvonne also enjoyed new challenges as an elected Councilor and the only female councilor on the Swan Hill Rural City Council. 

She has served as Chair of Swan Hill and District Rural Women for a period of ten years, during which time she convened a number of major initiatives including the ‘Women on Farms’ gatherings and a series of multi skilled workshops and forums for rural women. She was also instrumental in securing the resources for four and preparing nine women from her region to travel to attend the Third World Rural Women’s Congress. 

Yvonne’s personal vision is for a rural Australia further enriched by rural women, who are achieving their potential and who have the confidence to create and take up opportunities for the benefit of agriculture and their rural communities. 

Her proposed activity involved the development and pilot of an action learning project intended specifically to provide rural women with the support and skills to grow their capacity and their contribution from a local community level to regional, state, and national level and beyond.  The project included numerous opportunities for mentoring and individual support by successful rural and urban women. 

Yvonne firmly believes that by empowering rural women, women will do the same to their families, farms and communities, many times over, and also empower other women to create new opportunities and strengthen their rural communities and the primary industries upon which they are based.


2006 National Winner and Queensland State Winner - Martha Shepherd

Putting ‘Value’ into the Value Chain for Australian Native Rainforest Products

Martha Shepherd is a rainforest fruit grower from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland. She has established with her partner David Haviland a highly successful value added rural business which produces a range of gourmet products from native rainforest fruits.

Galeru is a 4.5 hectare farm comprising of some 3,000 native Australian rainforest trees, planted and purpose grown as a high value, environmentally sustainable, small acreage niche crop. 

Martha’s project was to develop a viable value chain management model, through which smaller producers could collaborate with regional processors and through the ability of all parties to create more value, and in turn share in the benefits of a larger enterprise. 

Her project was borne out of her experiences as a successful small business operator, frustrated by the wide range of opportunities to sell her product, but constrained by the size of her farm and the consequential higher costs and more limited volume of fruits her farm could produce and sell. 

The objectives of the project were to research, develop and implement an effective value chain model for Galeru, thereby demonstrating an alternative business model whereby small producers across a range of rural industries could improve their economic viability and sustainability. 

The project included a study of value chain management principals, case studies, site visits and interviews to provide both the analysis which could provide guidance in the development of the value chain, as well as information on the business structure, financial and legal implications for prospective partners. 

A workshop was attended by seven growers, two processors and all three project mentors, with the result being agreement to form a private company comprising of grower partners, to develop a marketing strategy, engage a marketing agent and attain HACCP accreditation for the new company Galeru Pty Ltd, its partner farms and processors. 

The project research, develop and implement a value chain management model for a group of small native rainforest growers has been achieved. The Galeru value chain created the largest entity growing native Australian rainforest fruit species in Australia. A group of growers, processors and others could collaborate to build a new industry. 

Within the value chain model, the partners will be able to ensure their future viability through a number of elements, unavailable to them as individual small producers. These include value added returns of product, improved economies of scale, risk reduction, improved quality decision making, innovation through diversity of skills within the chain and the ability to engage a dedicated marketing agent. 

The implications of the project for small producers across rural industries and for rural production in peri-urban zones was expected to be more far reaching than initially anticipated. 

On a personal level the project provided Martha with the opportunity to gain a wealth of new skills and knowledge including value chain management skills, financial and legal skills and business and corporate governance skills. 

In addition Martha was much sought after public speaker during her tenure as the inaugural Australian RIRDC Rural Women’s Award Winner, having presented or facilitated at 30 conferences and events over the 12 month period. 

Martha’s expertise and knowledge of value chain management and peri-urban development was recognized through her appointment as Innovator in Residence for 2007 by the Centre for Rural and Regional Innovation Queensland, a partnership between the University of Queensland, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems and the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, where she was toresearch innovative, sustainable agri-food enterprises in the per-urban landscape.


2006 South Australia Winner - Heather Baldock

GM Forum Roadshow

Heather Baldock is a broad acre farmer from Kimba on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula and a leader within her regional community and farmer organizations. 

Heather and her husband Graeme have always been innovative farmers, being one of the first in their region to adopt minimal and no till cropping practices. This commitment to innovation and new technology coupled with an impending review of the moratorium on GM crops in South Australia was the impetus behind her project. 

Her project was to conduct a series of GM Forums across the farming communities of the state, to provide primary producers and rural communities with independent information to make informed decisions about the technology and its longer term impact. 

Genetically Modified foods have in them ingredients that have been modified by a technique known as gene technology. The technology allows scientists to alter certain characteristics of a food crop by manipulating and introducing genetic materials from another source. 

The GM Forum Roadshow brought together five experts to speak across the breadth of the issue, addressing a total of three hundred and fifteen people at a series of six meetings across rural cropping locations in South Australia between 25-29 September 2006. Forum locations and key note speakers were selected following extensive consultation across rural groups and regional communities. 

The Roadshow visited Piednippie via Streaky Bay, Cummins on Eyre Peninsula, Minlaton on Yorke Peninsula, Jamestown in the Upper North, Loxton in the Riverland and Tintinara in the Upper South East. Each forum comprised of addresses by each of the five speakers and a panel session with questions and opinions taken from the floor. 

The GM Forum Roadshow was an overwhelming success in increasing the awareness and understanding of genetic modification in crops for those in attendance, as evidenced by the data collated from the road show’s evaluation. Of the 72% of attendees who responded to the evaluation, above average knowledge had increased from 21% to 55 % as a result of the forum, with low knowledge falling from 21% to 2%. 

Areas of increased knowledge included the science of genetic modifications, regulations and legislation dealing with GM’s in Australia, production and agronomy of GM’s, storage and handling issues, and domestic and international marketing of GM crops. 

In addition 87% of evaluation respondents believed that GM crops have the potential to offer significant benefits, with 42% believing the benefits to be agronomic, while 24% perceived benefits in increased yields and economic returns, 14% in reduced chemical usage, and 10% in flow on health benefits. 

The data collected from participants attending the forums was collated and published and at the time represented the most up to date information, opinions and concerns of South Australia’s primary producers and rural communities on GM technology. 

Heather’s report on the Forums findings was forwarded to sponsors, agricultural organizations, relevant State and Federal politicians and other individuals with a keen interest in GMs. It was also listed as a reference in the bibliography of the SA Moratorium Review of GM Crops Information Paper.

She has also presented her data publicly to the Oilseeds Market and Research Update in Mt Gambier, SA Advisory Board of Agriculture, SA Partners in Grain Reference Group, SA Liberal Party Rural and Regional Council, at a private meeting with the Minister for Agriculture-the Hon. Rory McEwen and at numerous other forums. 

The GM Forum Roadshow was the first major event that Heather had sole responsibility for, and as a result her knowledge of GM crops grew considerably, with some valuable new networks, along with her confidence in her skills and abilities.

Specific skills and abilities acquired include research and information dissemination, event management, teamwork, facilitation, public speaking and media interviews. The Award also afforded her the resources to participate in some professional self-development by way of the Technology of Participation (TOP) Facilitative Leadership Program and the South Australian Rural Leadership Program, the Australian Institute of Company Directors course and media workshops.


National Runner-up and Western Australia State Winner - Bev Logue

Bev Logue along with her husband run a family broad acre share cropping business, comprising of 8,000 hectares, north of Geraldton.

They are committed to sustainable farming practices, including amongst the latest technology tramline minimum till with satellite guidance systems, with the marginal nature of their country leading the Logue’s to implement improved water harvesting through wide row spacing trials already underway and shielded spraying in the planning. 

At the time of the Award, the Logue’s were also licensed bio-diesel manufacturers for 35,000 litres and have been operating farm machinery on canola based bio-diesel blends for the past three seasons. 

Bev’s vision is to see Australian farmers and the broader rural community embrace bio-diesel as an economic and environmentally friendly alternative fuel, sourced from renewable resources, that also frees farmers from their dependence for fuel on the three major oil companies. 

The bio-diesel the Logue’s produce on farm is equitable in price to the cost of petroleum diesel, is less toxic than mineral diesel and completely biodegradable and can reduce emissions by up to 70% as compared to petroleum diesel.  

Bev was involved in establishing a cooperative canola milling facility for the Northern Agricultural Region, in conjunction with a proof of concept project for regional bio-diesel production for the farming community of Binnu. 

National, state and local interest in the bio-diesel resulted in workshops, media interviews, meetings with state parliamentarians and government organizations and presentation to a number of farmer groups, along with discussion with the Australian Taxation Office. 

Bev proposed activity involved professional business coaching to enhance her business management, communication and negotiation skills. She also planned to undertake an interstate study tour to better understand bio-diesel production and demand for the product and its potential by-products.


2006 Tasmania Winner - Heather Chong

Seasonal labour in the horticultural industry

At the time of the Award, Heather Chong was Chief Executive Officer of QEW Orchards, a 48,000 tree apricot orchard in southern Tasmania, which produced around 1,000 tones of fresh apricots each year for the domestic and export markets. 

Heather was also Chair of Summerfruit Australia, the peak industry body for summerfuit growers in Australia.  She also sat on a number of industry organizations, including the Rivers and Waters Supply Commission, the Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research Advisory Board and Women in Horticulture export working group. 

Heather believes a shortage of seasonal labour is reaching critical levels within the horticultural industry nationally to the point of damaging industry’s continued prosperity. She believes the labour shortage is the result of a combination of factors, including a strong economy and commensurate low level of unemployment and an increasingly negative general perception to working in agriculture.

Her proposed activity involved a study tour to Canada and Ireland to investigate ways their industries combat the same issue, combined with travel to the Swan region of Victoria and northern Tasmania to investigate the impact this shortage is having in other horticultural districts with the expectation of applying new learning’s from overseas on the domestic industry. 

In Canada a scheme called the Commonwealth Caribbean and Mexican Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program was employed for predominantly migrant workers, while in Ireland the Northern Irish Scheme caters principally for students from Eastern Europe. Under both schemes the rights and obligations of both the employer and employee are protected and regulated to ensure everyone is looked after. 

Heather believes there will be aspects of both schemes that could be utilised and employed to produce a scheme that could meet Australian conditions and constraints. She hoped the information learned from her studies will form the basis for further discussion between industry and government and set the seed for a similar scheme in Australia.


2006 Northern Territory Winner - Janette Hintze

The Northern Territory Cut Flower Industry

Janette Hintze is one of the pioneers of the Northern Territory cut flower industry, having been one of the original group of growers selected to trial heliconias and gingers as a suitable commercial cut flower in 1986.

Jan was instrumental in establishing the Northern Territory Horticultural Association’s Cut Flower Group, which she became President of in 1999 and its spokesperson for many years.

The Northern Territory Cut Flower Industry is still a relatively new one, having been introduced as a commercial proposition by the Department of Primary Industry in the mid-eighties. At the time of the Award the industry was dominated by two species, the Heliconia which originated from tropical central America and the Ginger flower from south east Asia. 

Jan believes that the industry needs to be constantly updating and introducing new varieties in order to stimulate and satisfy market demand. 

Her project involved a study tour to the 4th International Symposium on the Zingiberaceae family, held in Singapore, to meet with experts in their field and commercial growers from across the world, to learn of latest advances in breeding and production and to source out new varieties for importation back to the Territory. 

Her project also involved visits to the eastern seaboard flower markets, including Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, to inspect the quality of tropical cut flowers and demand for the product and to discuss with buyers any issues they may have with packing and freight of product to market. 

The Symposium was attended by some 200 industry delegates, with topics covered including genetic classifications using DNA technology, tissue culture propagation, exploration and collection of threatened species and traditional and holistic medical uses for the ginger species.

Jan’s attendance at the conference proved extremely valuable in meeting and talking to numerous delegates involved in the collection and cultivation of gingers. She also discovered a new variety of ginger flower, a Costus Spicatus flower but of yellow colour, called the Indian head Ginger, not previously available in Australia, which she subsequently imported and planted out. 

Jan’s tour of the flower wholesale markets also proved valuable. She spoke with a collection of buyers, on and off market wholesalers, stallholders, and florists.  She was surprised and disappointed by the lack of volume of tropical flowers on sale across the eastern seaboard markets, however wholesalers and buyers proved generally happy with the quality of the stock on arrival to market and therefore had few problems with the handling and freight of product. 

Given that Jan is one of only a handful of tropical growers who have had the opportunity to attend an international conference or visit the eastern seaboard wholesale markets, the end destination for the majority of their product, the implications of this project not only at a personal level, but on the Northern Territory cut flower industry will be quite significant. 

Information from the international symposium and her learnings from the wholesale markets was collated and disseminated to growers across the industry, with a presentation to the Territory’s flower growers planned. The new variety the Indian Head Ginger, which Janette imported, was expected to be in full flower production and available to other growers by the end of the 2007 wet season.



New South Wales Winner 2005 - Jennifer Bradley

Empower lamb producers to manage and minimize price fluctuations

At the time of the Award Jennifer served as a Board Director on one of the largest producer marketing groups in New South Wales, as well as managing a mixed farming enterprise in partnership with her husband and family in the state’s central west.  The Tooraweenah Prime Lamb Marketing Cooperative markets for some 80 producers with an annual turnover of between 45,000 and 85,000 prime lambs. 

During her years as a Director, Jennifer was been responsible for organizing and running numerous field days, established a quarterly newsletter for members, and actively canvassed new members and coordinated media management.  On the family farm she was responsible for the sheep enterprise which comprises of 150 specially selected Border Leicester breeding ewes and 1500 Merino ewes, to produce first cross prime lambs. 

Her vision for her industry is to empower lamb producers to manage and minimize price fluctuations through improving their marketing knowledge and skills. 

Jennifer believes that Australian lamb producers through superior management practices produce a world class product, but they lack the necessary marketing skills to financially reward them for the quality of their product and also lack the necessary business and negotiation skills to deal equally with processors.  New Zealand producers, she feels, by contrast have learnt to meet stringent market specifications within tight environmental constraints. Lamb marketing in New Zealand she believed was also far more sophisticated, offering producers a range of contract schedules and pricing options. 

Jennifer proposed to undertake a study tour of New Zealand to learn from their producers the production principles they employ to meet the market specifications and to explore the marketing options available. She also proposed to further develop her negotiation and leadership skills, in an effort to improve relationships with processors and to encourage other women within her industry to take a more active and participatory role.


2005 Victoria Winner - Sue Markwell

Research Study into Equine Recuperation Methods

At the time of the Award, Sue Markwell was the first female manager of one of Victoria’s most highly respected thoroughbred horse studs “Tremon Thoroughbreds”.

The stud has earned itself a reputation for quality care and world class facilities, providing for the breeding and caring of horses, from foaling mares to yearlings and racehorses and more recently as a aftercare and recovery unit. Sue’s vision is to provide a world’s best practice stud that offers owners options in the treatment and care, including both traditional and alternative practices, of horses of all breeds.

The advent of specialist facilities at Tremon to treat horses with specific illnesses and injuries defined a new market between the level of care offered by veterinarians for acute patients and the general agistment services for horses with minor problems. But for Tremon and the industry as a whole to achieve its maximum potential, Sue felt a greater knowledge of the range of available methods employed in caring for horses and facilities required for it to operate needed to be investigated.

Her activity involved extensive study and research of the equine industry, investigating the range of available methods employed in caring for horses from traditional through to alternative practices and the facilities required, both here in Australia and New Zealand. 

The study tours of Australia and New Zealand included veterinary clinics, studs and alternative therapy units, to investigate new practices and advances, along with trends in traditional and alternative practices, with a particular focus on neo-natal support.  The study tour revealed a number of important findings:

  • Traditional practitioners nominated tendons, lacerations and colics as the most common illnesses and injuries in Australia compared to respiratory problems in New Zealand. Alternative practitioners reported leg and back problems as the main treatments undertaken.
  • Traditional practitioners nominated joint ill and angular limb deformities as the most common reason for treating foals, with all highlighting the correlation between the increasing size of thoroughbreds with the escalating numbers of foals requiring treatment for legs. 
  • Traditional practitioners nominated the advent of ultrasound as the most effective recent advance in technology, due to its ability to detect tissue and tendon injuries, with digital x-rays for quality purposes and cyntigraphy for bone problems also considered important.
  • Most valuable advances in treatments varied between traditional practitioners, and included bone marrow transfer, treatments of fractures and casts and treatment of lacerations and the range of drugs now available. 
  • Most valuable advances in treatments of wounds also varied between traditional practitioners from animal lintex combined with dry top dressing, cortisone based gels and gel gauze bandage combined with plaster and fibreglass to prevent pressure with restrictions of movement. 
  • Non-traditional methods of treatment, including chiropractic, acupuncture or massage were not widely employed by the majority of vet clinics surveyed. 

The majority of vet clinics also refer foals on to specialized units for neo-natal treatment. The range of treatments available for stabling neo-natal foals varied considerably, from water beds to more sophisticated matting to simple padded pens with sheepskins, with the range of pens also varying significantly. The major risk for all neo-natal facilities was disease control, with treatments also varying greatly from footbaths and washing facilities to integrated light and heating units to control temperature and ventilation. 

The study tour established a definite need for an intermediate unit to cater for recovering horses. The tour established that Tremon Stud has stables, wash bays and other infrastructure equal to or better than the majority of studs and clinics.

At the time of the Award, Tremon was embarking on the establishment of a more economic and practical neo-natal stabling system for premature foals. Negotiations had begun for a cost effective Artificial Insemination (A.I.) Stud accommodating performance and standard bred horses.  While Tremon’s care and procedures were well advanced, the range of treatments for wound and laceration care had been greatly expanded. 

Sue believes that as a direct result of the study tour, Tremon was better able to provide specialist recuperation facilities and care, to aid in the recovery of a broader range of horses of all breeds. Equally importantly Sue believes Tremon was better able to provide a facility that students at colleges and universities can use to gain practical work placement to enhance their future as veterinary surgeons and nurses. 

At a personal level Sue believes the Award and the travel it provided furthered her horse knowledge and skills and networks and given her new found respect amongst her peers and equine industry leaders.  She believes the benefits of her Award will be a cost effective alternative for the recuperation and care of sick and injured horses of all breeds, and as a consequence a greatly improved recovery rate and return of horses to their previous careers.


2005 Queensland Winner - Anne Osborne

Australian Native Products-Raising Domestic Market Awareness & Demand

At the time of the Award, Anne Osborne was Director of ‘Boofanugs’ a native Australian retail distribution business and Executive Director of Q Invest, a Queensland based financial services business.

“Boofanugs’ produces and value adds an extensive range of native food products and specializes in the sale of gift boxes for the corporate and conference sector.  Anne is also the founding member of the Queensland Bushfood Association and was responsible for the writing of its constitution and the development of its website. 

Her vision was to drive the native food industry to become recognized as a commercially viable and mainstream agricultural industry, by gaining widespread acceptance by consumers both in Australia and overseas. 

While native foods are growing in demand and the industry is worth an estimated $14 million annually, the domestic market is floundering due to lack of demand and significant supply chain problems, and its export potential yet to be realised due to its inability to guarantee regular supplies of high quality produce. 

Anne’s objectives were to provide Australian native plant industry participants, with an understanding of existing awareness among domestic consumers, reasons for the lack of demand and answers to increasing awareness for products, thereby enabling industry participants to develop strategies to increase domestic demand for products.  The three main elements of the project were: 

  • Measurement and determination of the pre-existing awareness of Australian native based produce and products.
  • Gaining an improved understanding of the demand drivers for such produce and products. 
  • Developing strategies for her business and the broader industry to exploit opportunities identified. 

Anne with the support of a specialist market researcher set about identifying the major demand drivers for Australian native based products in the domestic Australian consumer market.  Research was conducted through an online survey of some 250 Australian consumers in five capital cities. The survey quota mirrored the distribution of grocery buyers in Australia with 75% representation from females and 25% from males.  The research concluded that in relation to the domestic consumer market for Australian native products:

  • There is limited awareness of what an Australian native product is. 
  • The most significant barriers to sale are lack of awareness followed by perceived cost. 
  • An overwhelming majority of respondents would prefer to purchase products in supermarkets and be educated at the point of purchase. 
  • Once educated, appeal to the domestic consumer is very strong with 62% of respondents indicating that they are quite or very appealing and only 9% indicating they are of no appeal. 
  • Ancillary Research of industry participants perceptions of the drivers and barriers to the purchasing Australian native products, suggested that industry perceptions of where domestic consumers look for products and information does not match the perceptions of the market. 

Anne believed the implications of her project for her industry will be quite significant. She believed that the research is invaluable in that it confirms a definite purchasing interest amongst the domestic consumer market across Australia.

It confirmed supermarkets as the preferred purchase location, that price is important and that prices currently charged by some domestic participants are not sustainable. It also confirmed that current perceptions by industry participants are contrary to those of domestic consumers, and as a result has better informed industry of consumer expectations and needs. 

The information learned from the research was disseminated to industry participants and was made available on her website to the broader industry. Anne was instrumental in assisting with the establishment of the first national representative body for Australian native produce and products, which was expected to become the industry’s peak representative body.


South Australian Winner 2005 - Lisa Rowntree

Marketing South Australian Olive Oil to the World

Lisa Rowntree is one of the Australian olive industry’s emerging leaders. She served as President of Olives South Australia for four years and as Director on the Board of the Australian Olive Association, also for four years, as well as Editor of the Olive Tree, the official newsletter of the South Australian olive industry. At the time of the Award, Lisa was chairing an industry steering committee investigating the restructure of the national industry. 

Her vision is to see Australia recognized domestically and internationally as a producer of high quality extra virgin olive oil and olive products.  She believes that marketing difficulties confronting Australian olive growers means that many will not be able to sell their product domestically, and so will be forced to sell product overseas.

Lisa believes a marketing and distribution cooperative will become increasingly crucial for South Australian growers, in terms of achieving economies of scale and the assured quality and quantity of supply and brand power to compete in both the international and domestic arena.  Her project looked at the process of progressing a South Australian Olive Oil brand by: 

  • Enhancing the reputation of the Australian olive oil industry.
  • Educating consumers on the benefits and uses of Australian olive oil.
  • Developing a sustainable international market for Australian olive oil.
  • Developing a production and marketing cooperative to meet the demands of such a brand.

In exploring the successes and failures of other production and marketing cooperatives, Lisa met with representatives from the Batlow Fruit Cooperative in NSW. The Cooperative is recognized as one of the largest storage and packing operations in Australia, packing approximately one million cases of apples every year for a total pool of 75 growers. The discussions were useful in exposing her to the issues that cooperatives face when dealing with a large number of smaller growers. 

Lisa used the bursary to travel to New York to visit the 2006 Fancy Food Show, to investigate the competition and to search out ideas for getting their products profiled and noticed against the myriad of competing ones.

She had originally planned to travel to Hong Kong to meet with potential distributors, however it was decided that the United States, a country with a similar banking system and approach to business, would be a more valuable trip. Lisa made close to 50 contacts at the Show, from which five have proved worthwhile. She returned to the US six months later to forge relationships with two contacts, along with a San Francisco based olive oil importer. She returned again to the US to attend the 2007 Fancy Food Show and made contact with a Texan importer who she supplied bottled product to. 

Information and contacts collected have proved important in the development of the Joint Marketing Venture. 25 growers registered interest in being part of the venture, which has resulted in the establishment of a JMV Steering Committee. The Steering Committee was broken into two  sub-committees, one to focus on the ‘structure’ of the venture and the other to work on marketing with a view to exhibiting at international trade shows. 

The Joint Marketing Venture’s marketing strategy is to focus on countries with similar banking structures and who communicate in English. The Free Trade Agreement with the United States in lifting import tariffs has made it the most attractive export market. The group’s objective was to exhibit at the 2007 Winter Fancy Food Fair in San Francisco in January 2007, the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago in May 2007 and the Summer Fancy Food Show in July 2007. In the first instance they planned to take some of the smaller and medium growers with existing labels, and expand from there. 

Lisa believed the benefits of a JMV to the South Australian industry would be enormous, in that it would help smaller to medium size growers become more competitive and cooperative in working together to solve industry challenges. The Venture also proved promising in securing some economies of scale from processing and harvesting contractors, not achievable by individual growers.  Lisa also believes a South Australian brand or brands of extra virgin olive oil will enable the industry to compete at the international level. It would give the marketing cooperative a brand upon which to be recognized and to ensure quantity and quality of supply. It would also allow other state organizations to use the research and development information gathered to increase the presence of the total industry internationally. 

At a personal level, winning the Award grew Lisa’s confidence to achieve her ambitions, to present and speak at numerous public events, in turn allowing her to further promote and profile her industry and the work of rural women.

The Award afforded her opportunities to meet valuable contacts. The Australian Institute of Company Directors course while challenging, forced her to push herself on many different levels and to become more aware of the issues in her Director roles.


2005 Western Australian Winner - Maureen Dobra

Sustainable Horticulture

At the time of the Award, Maureen Dobra was Executive Director of The Loose Leaf Lettuce Company, a horticultural business that employs over 30 staff and produces a range of over 26 varieties of fresh cut lettuce, herbs and salad vegetables.  Maureen was Vice President of Vegetables WA and Chairperson of the Gingin Telecentre.

She was also a member of the Western Australian Vegetable Networking Committee and of the Ausveg National Research and Development Committee. 

Her vision is to see all agricultural industries develop a strong environmental conscience through the smarter use of waste water, green manure and more natural fertilizers and pesticides.

Maureen believes the intense nature of horticultural crops requires strict land management controls and smarter use of water and additives, if the industry is to remain sustainable for future generations.  Her activity involved travel to New Zealand, France and Holland to observe the growing conditions, the management practices and environmental constraints applied to their horticultural industries. Her objectives were to visit and talk to overseas growers and processors of the fresh cut industry to compare practices, to set up a network of horticultural growers within her region and to share knowledge and promote her industry through the establishment of a webpage specifically for the region’s growers. 

New Zealand has become a major producer of fresh-cut salads and vegetables, while France is the home of the ‘mesculun’ mixed salads and Holland is recognized as the world leader in the production of seeds.  In New Zealand, Maureen found wind to be a major production issue requiring hedges to be planted around many farms to prevent soil erosion. She also found right to farm and issues associated with the urbanization of rural areas to be an increasing burden, requiring of farmers to meet certain local shire council obligations, covering neighbours and noise pollution and chemical applications.

She also found common issues between the two countries in keeping abreast with quality assurance, health and safety requirements and in staff employment and retention. Maureen met with a hydroponics grower who was successfully recycling water onto trees on his farms and visited a machinery company that was manufacturing innovative seeding and harvesting implements.

In France, Maureen observed green manure successfully growing side by side with vegetable and cereal crops. She also found that horticultural growers and processors in France had access to a much larger labour force due to their proximity to many other countries.  And in Holland she was able to observe seed production in detail, including seed selection for specific climatic conditions, growing times and cycles of the year, to various seed coatings with fungicides and insecticides.

Maureen believes the trip was extremely valuable, not only for her own business but for her industry in Western Australia. She commenced work on her website for her regions growers,, with the webpage expected to be completed in 2007. 

She also put some time into sharing new growing and processing techniques learned from her overseas travel with her network of horticultural growers and grower groups. She also believes this information will enable her to become one of the leading producers of fresh-cut salad vegetables for the Western Australian market.


2005 Tasmania Winner - Amanda Way

The Tasmanian Rock Lobster Industry:-New Opportunities

Amanda Way is Principal of Clearwater Fisheries a southern rock lobster production operation based off the southern coast of Tasmania.  The southern rock lobster industry’s heavy dependence on export and the resultant seasonality of prices, encouraged Amanda to seek out alternate marketing avenues for seafood, including the highly successful direct sales from boat to the public at the Margate wharf. 

Amanda’s vision is to see the Tasmanian rock lobster industry, through astute diversification and value adding into new markets, reach the point of becoming a price maker not taker.  Her activity involved collecting information from rock lobster industries both within Australia and overseas, for her own purposes and for the education of local and Australian seafood consumers.

The Seafood Directions Conference in Sydney in September 2005 proved a valuable networking and information gathering exercise and highlighted to Amanda the fragmented nature of the Australian industry.

Her study tour to Western Australia, the country’s largest rock lobster industry, proved valuable in exposing her to new and innovative ways of marketing and in providing her with new contacts. Her study tour to New Zealand revealed a very different industry with stricter environmental and catch controls and exposed her to new methods of promoting the product and educating the general public. 

The major outcome from the study tours was Lobster Direct, an online direct marketing venture that officially went online on 4 November 2005. ( Lobster Direct is the only online gourmet lobster outlet in Australia, marketing fresh cooked Tasmanian lobster via Australian Post Overnight Express Post to the world.

Lobster Direct was the end result of many months of trial and error, with packaging and temperature control and researching the best mode of transport and delivery of lobster product across the country. Amanda believes that direct marketing, with more time and exposure, will prove itself to be an extremely powerful and efficient marketing vehicle for the industry. 

Amanda was invited to coordinate the Wooden Boat Festival in February 2007. She took on the position of Coordinator of the Tasmania Sea Taste and has been invited onto the board of the Tasmanian Fishing Industry Council. She was asked to be part of the Student Representative Councils with Tasmania for motivational speaking. 

She believes the Award has been critical to her achieving her goals of opening up new markets for the industry and helping change the public perception of the industry and its professional fishermen. She also believes that there are great opportunities, particularly through the Student Representative Councils to pass on knowledge and encouragement to our youth.  Amanda was announced as a finalist in the 2006 Telstra Business Women’s Awards-Innovation Award.


2005 Northern Territory Winner - Ann Palmer

Crocodile Industry, Markets and Development

Ann Palmer is one of only a handful of women working in the crocodile industry in Australia and the only woman in the Northern Territory to have held a managerial position. She had previously held the position of Manager of the Territory’s first commercial crocodile farm; a position she held for over ten years.  Ann’s vision is to have the Northern Territory crocodile industry recognized internationally as one that is efficient and sustainable and that has the ability to become a significant supplier of crocodile products to the world. 

The crocodile industry internationally is driven by demand for skins, and while Australian farms are currently enjoying good demand for skins, the market is extremely tough with strong competition from major players such as Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea, and Australia producing only one percent of the total global market.

With skin buyers increasingly selective, and with rising fuels costs, a fluctuating US dollar and increasing occupational health and safety considerations, margins for Australian crocodile farmers are becoming increasingly tight, making the sale of meat and by-products very important to overall profitability.  The principle objectives of Ann’s proposed activity were: 

  • To identify marketing opportunities for crocodile meat and by-products, such as fat, internal organs, skulls and feet, with the aim of increasing the value of a finished crocodile and reducing waste disposal. 
  • To research different farming practices, with the aim of improving animal welfare, worker safety and commercial production. 

Ann organised through Austrade an extensive desk-top search for countries already consuming crocodile flesh, both from Australia and from overseas. The desk-top search investigated critical issues including market structure, the distribution chain, tariffs and import regulations, product requirements and potential customers.

The Netherlands and Japan were highlighted as the two most promising markets, with a small list of potential customers established for both markets. While the Netherlands buyers expressed interest in a variety of cuts, Japanese buyers were interested only in prime tail fillets and in limited quantities only. Samples of product were prepared for the Netherlands market and export of commercial shipments was anticipated. 

A search for markets for by-products proved not entirely successful. Expressions of interest from Japan were made for crocodile penis and samples were delivered however feedback was very limited. It appears there is a market for by-products however more work is required to ensure processing and packaging is suitable to the customer. 

Ann visited several crocodile farms across the eastern seaboard to gain a better insight into the different farming practices employed within the domestic industry. She found a large variation in farming practices, with farms tending to specialize in different segments of the industry, often according to their location.

Anne believed that it was probable that several export markets will successfully develop out of her project. She found that identifying the markets and establishing relationships with potential customers to the point of sample stage was an extremely time consuming but critical process, and that once a market is established it must be nurtured or run the risk of losing it to an overseas supplier.

She also found that while there are markets for by products such as teeth, skulls, and internal organs, very few customers are able to take large quantities of the unprocessed product. On a personal level, Ann enrolled in a leadership seminar for managers through Skillpath, which targeted organizational skills, communication and effective workplace habits. The program helped her better organize her time and impressed upon her the importance of training her staff to enable them to work competently and without supervision.



2004 New South Wales Winner - Rebecca Arnott

Beef Branding in Australia

At the time of the Award Rebecca Arnott was National Brand Manager for the Australian Agricultural Company’s branded beef products. 

With beef consumption, until recently, within Australia declining, the advent of branded beef complete with a stringent set of standards, underpinned by Ausmeat and Meat Standards Australia, has helped turn consumption around and has helped the major pastoral companies and producer groups value add their product and retain greater control of the value chain. 

Rebecca’s vision is to be part of a true beef industry supply chain alliance where all players are working towards the common goal of increasing red meat consumption, through consistent quality and quantity branded product. 

Her project was to investigate the branded beef market, in the retail and food service sectors, in the United Kingdom, United States and Japan. Key areas of investigation included supply chain management, product differentiation, packaging, labelling and presentation, in supermarkets, butcher shops, hotels and restaurants. 

The study tour Rebecca undertook provided her with a greater understanding of Australia’s biggest beef export markets and the importance of branded beef within those markets, with the expectation of identifying new opportunities for Australian branded product, along with new contacts, knowledge and expertise. 

Rebecca met with numerous people involved in the red meat industries in Japan, the US and UK, including retailers and wholesalers and food service industry executives, along with customers and chefs and Meat and Livestock Australia overseas managers. She also attended and supported customers at a major food trade show whilst in Japan. 

In Australia branded beef product has proved very popular in the food service and restaurant sector but has been slow to take off with consumers in the retail sector, including the major supermarkets. However in the US, UK and Japan Rebecca found quite the contrary situation, with branded beef occupying substantial shelf space in retail outlets, but little evidence of branded product in the food service sector.  She also found some innovative marketing tools and points of difference employed overseas. 

In the UK, for example, she found some supermarkets promoting the farm and point of origin of beef with a picture of the farm and comments by the producer or a recognized chef, while in the US, recognized sporting heroes were used to brand and differentiate product.  She also found the packaging and presentation of beef particularly in the US and Japan to be excellent, with the capacity for domestic beef in Japan to be scanned back from supermarket to point of origin to ascertain the background of the cattle. 

While it was too early to quantify the impact of Rebecca’s study tour on the Australian industry, the most immediate and direct implication was the development and promotion of a specialty steak section featuring branded beef in Coles supermarket, in collaboration with MLA. Rebecca’s study tour was critical to providing the necessary information on product differentiation, packaging and labeling, point of sale material and value adding strategies to orchestrate this. 

The Award has given Rebecca a much broader understanding of Australia’s key trading partners and their branded beef product and of the issues and opportunities facing the Australian industry as it embraces branded product.


2004 Victoria Winner - Marilyn Lanyon

Simply Tomatoes

Marilyn Lanyon is the principal of ‘Simply Tomatoes’ a value adding horticultural enterprise, borne out of adverse marketing conditions and consequent price collapse for processed tomatoes. 

Marilyn’s vision is for the men and women of the processing tomato industry to work together to remain viable and to seek out value adding opportunities, so that their future is not solely dependant on one buyer or one major company. 

Her project involved a second overseas marketing trip to pursue potential market contacts visited whilst abroad in 2001, as part of the Women in Horticulture SE Asia Market visit. The focus of the second trip, with the assistance of her export advisor, centred on how to conduct business overseas and secure orders for Simply Tomatoes. 

Marilyn conducted a number of in store tastings and met with a numerous buyers in Denmark, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and the USA, talking at length with them concerning their needs and issues with and acceptance of product. Major issues facing the enterprise currently include demand management, lean packaging and distribution, international labeling and product acceptance.

The discussions proved helpful in further identifying the needs of the export market. The trip proved successful with one order involving distribution into 14 countries throughout Europe secured, and negotiations for a second order into the USA. At the time of the Award, Simply Tomatoes was exporting into 19 overseas destinations in total. In addition, media exposure, guest speaking opportunities and market events all helped to rapidly increase the domestic market for Simply Tomatoes, with the enterprise boasting over 150 stockists across Australia at the time of the Award. 

Simply Tomatoes was also been used as a case study for Austrade, Dynamic Small Business, a Globalisation Positioning Symposium for Horticulture and was showcased at the National Farmers Market Conference.

Marilyn says she has grown enormously in confidence through media and guest speaking opportunities, with her knowledge and expertise also increasing through attending a number of relevant workshops. She hopes that she will be an encouragement and a conduit to other rural women seeking to establish their own value adding businesses and turning their ideas into reality.


2004 Queensland Winner - Claudine Ward

Stories of Women in the Gulf of Carpentaria Gill Net Fishery

“Do you go out of the boats too luv?” is a question all too familiar to Claudine Ward, an active master fisherman in the Gulf of Carpentaria Gill Net Fishery, for the past thirty years. 

Claudine is a successful commercial fisherman in her own right, playing an active role in the management of the family’s three vessels and five entitlements and a driving force within the industry, having been instrumental in developing both the Gulf of Carpentaria’s Commercial Fishermen’s Code of Conduct and Environmental Management Plan. 

Claudine’s vision is to promote the important role women play in the fishing industry both in the Gulf and beyond and to have them recognized as partners and business operators in their own right.  Her project was to produce a publication on the history of women involved in the Gulf commercial fishing industry, so that this unique story is told and available for future generations. 

The project involved eliciting stories directly from as many women fishers in the Gulf as practically possible, to document the early history of commercial fishing in the region and to compile a cross section of anecdotal history of women in the commercial gillnet fishery. The result she proposed would be a quality publication that would provide an insight into the women and their stories of how they coped with conditions and seasons during the various stages of the fisheries history. 

Claudine sent out a questionnaire to all the fishing entitlements currently fishing in the Gulf of Carpentaria Gillnet Fishery and to those retired fisher women that could be contacted. The response to the questionnaire was astounding, and once contact had been made and based on these initial responses Claudine was able to establish a timeline from the earliest days of gulf fishing to the present time.  The publication, not surprisingly against the title “Do You Go Out of the Boats Too Luv? has went to print with a first print run of 1000 books. 

Claudine believes the most obvious impact has been on the women themselves involved in the publication, in the self esteem it has returned them, seeing their lives and their stories in print, and the potential to nurture and encourage younger women into the industry.  She says the book has also changed her perspective on how she views women and their involvement and importance to the fishing industry. 

On a personal note the Award gave Claudine the opportunity to travel to other areas of the Australian fishing industry to address like-minded groups on the subjects of women in the fishing industry and environmental management within the industry.  Since the launch of the book, women involved in the prawn fishery have approached her to gather together their stories with a view to producing a similar publication.  As Claudine sees it, there is little monetary gain achieved from her publication, but the loss of history if these stories were not told would be priceless.


2004 South Australian Winner - Jeanette Long

Women Embracing Agriculture Together

Jeanette Long is a business and training consultant delivering training across rural South Australia, as well as partner in two family farming operations.  Her vision is to empower women grain growers, to achieve change, by skills development through participation in strategic learning groups and to grow their leadership skills in a safe, family friendly environment within their region. 

The pilot group called WEAT (Women Embracing Agriculture Together) was established with the objective of providing professional training for rural women in their regional areas at times which suited their family and work commitments. Training was based on a skills analysis and designed to fill specific gaps in knowledge as determined on an individual and subsequently group basis. The group once formed would provide a network for support and an opportunity for women to keep abreast of changes within their industry. 

Jeanette’s ambition on a personal level was for professional training in leadership skills through a formal mentoring process and accreditation as a deliverer of the Myer Briggs Personality Type indicator. 

A group of 15 women from across the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia came together for seven workshops over a six month period. Strategic areas of interest covered in the workshops included business benchmarking, price risk management, succession and strategic planning, leadership skills, human resource management and mentoring. During the course of the workshops the group met with a number of industry representatives including executives from Australia Grain Marketing, AWB Ltd, ABB Grain Ltd, Ezigrain and NAB.

The pilot proved very successful and the 15 women who participated grew in confidence, strengthened networks and developed new skills in grain marketing and a greater understanding of supply chain issues and business financial benchmarking. The women each completed a skills audit and are now better placed to identify their future individual training needs. 

Jeanette’s confidence in her own leadership skills grew to the point where she left paid employment and began working in her own consultancy business.  She also gained new skills in dealing with the media, in mentoring and in public speaking and has subsequently spoken at a number of high profile functions and events. 

In addition, new career opportunities opened up to her, including being appointed the Independent Chair of the Inland Fisheries Management Committee for PIRSA and National Project Manager for the Partners In Grain Project.


2004 Western Australian Winner - Diane Morrison

Aquaculture Project -Wahroonga Station

Diana Morrison lives in one of the remotest parts of Australia, in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia, which is close to 1,000 kilometres north of Perth.  Diana is partner in a pastoral operation Wahroonga Station, which produces fine merino wool, beef cattle and rangeland meat goats.  But the Rangelands and the pastoral industries susceptibility to drought and the economic implications of drought on the region and the social fabric of the community, has driven Diana to seek out viable and realistic alternate enterprises for the region. 

The Gascoyne Artesian Basin Rehabilitation Project, a joint initiative between the Federal and State governments and pastoral leaseholders, to cap and control the once free flowing bores of the region, has effectively revolutionized water, land and stock management in the region and paved the way for alternate new industries, including aquaculture and more specifically ornamental fish production. 

At the time of the Award, the global ornamental fish industry was estimated to be worth as much as US$5 billion, yet the majority of ornamental fish were imported into Australia, including fancy gold fish from China and SE Asia and guppies from Sri Lanka and Singapore. 

Diana’s project involved two fact finding missions, one domestically to New South Wales and Queensland and one overseas to Singapore, coupled with extensive trial work on farm, to resolve some of the major issues facing the production of ornamental fish in saline artesian water.  The study tour to Queensland and NSW involved meetings with a number of industry leaders, wholesalers and importers, proved fruitful in providing Diana with a greater insight into the Australian industry and some valuable new contacts, while the tour to Singapore to attend Aquarama 2005, put fish breeding on the world stage, highlighting the latest research into the nutrition, breeding, animal welfare and best practice management of numerous fish species. 

Trial research work back at Wahroonga Station has proved both revealing and promising. The major research involved investigating the ability of egg laying ornamental goldfish and other ornamental species to spawn successfully in low saline artesian water. The concern being that saline water could cause a process of reverse osmosis through the egg wall resulting in the death of the embryo.  The trial started with live bearers or fish producing live young and proved these species able to breed prolifically and in commercial numbers. The trial continued with egg laying fancy goldfish and showed the species able to grow to sexual maturity, with a hormone induced spawning moderately successful and resulting in the small number of eggs retrieved showing no signs of impairment due to water quality. The trial then moved on to further egg laying species including the Australian and New Guinea rainbow fish with the species producing numbers sufficient to become the basis of a commercial industry. The trial concluded with the Catfish species which produced eggs that subsequently failed to be fertilized and the Guppies species which resulted in sufficient production for commercial potential. 

In addition a small grass trial was undertaken, using perennial grasses currently used as a stock fodder crop in Queensland and Western Australia, to test for the effective use of waste water from aqua tanks. The grasses grew prolifically and set seed with no obvious signs of salt stress.  While it was too early to confirm from trial results a viable new industry for the rangelands, the research at Wahroonga Station as a result of the Award conclusively proved that some egg laying ornamental fish species capable of producing in commercial numbers of viable larva in saline artesian water. 

With the help of a grant secured through the Gascoyne Murchison Strategy, Diana has set up commercial facilities including a tunnel house, tanks and plumbing and an aeration system, to allow her to move into commercial production. She anticipated that full production levels would enable her to produce 48,000 juveniles and a gross income of $80,000 p.a.  The Award helped Diana develop new skills and launch a new business, along with bringing her community recognition and a self confidence from her achievements.


2004 Tasmania Winner - Diane Rae

Sheep Dairying in Europe and New Zealand

Diane Rae is one of a handful of sheep milk and cheese producers that make up the Australian industry.  She is responsible for establishing Tasmania’s only organic sheep dairy and cheesery and her product has been recognized by a number of Awards including the 2003 Tasmanian Fine Food Award’s Minister for Primary Industries Award for Best Organic Product. 

Diane’s vision is to lead and encourage by example other rural women to recognize sheep dairying as a viable agricultural enterprise and one with a huge potential, with demand already outstripping domestic supply of cheese milk and cheese products by a ratio of five to one.  At the time of the Award, the sheep dairying industry in Australia was only 20 years old and still in its infancy and lacking critical knowledge in genetics, pasture management, infrastructure expertise (housing and equipment), milk processing and cheese production; all needed to more the industry forward.

Diane’s project involved travel to Europe, the United Kingdom and to New Zealand to visit with sheep dairy farmers and processors, and learn from their expertise and experience. She travelled to England and Ireland, Southern France, Italy, Spain and Sardinia, visiting a wide range of sheep dairying farms and factories, and seeking out information on dairy sheep management, milking machinery and infrastructure, shed design, lamb rearing techniques, cheese manufacture and selling and marketing options. 

What she found were some stark differences in the sheep dairying industries and operations between the countries. Italy and Sardinia proved to have an extremely well established and integrated industry with efficient farms, large sheds and state of the art milking equipment and adequate infrastructure to allow for specialist cheese making and farmer cooperatives. In contrast in France while she found their cheese making to be far more innovative she also found conditions in some regions to be quite rudimentary and subsistent.

England also boasted a well established and integrated sheep milking and cheese making industry with over 40 registered producers, involved in the full range of activities from milking only to milking and processing products, to milking, processing and selling product on farm. In contrast Ireland proved a very basic industry with only three producers and no cooperative cheese processing factory. 

All European countries shed their milking sheep for at least part of the year, for either protection from the elements or as an intensive farming exercise, with a large variation in housing facilities and feeding and watering infrastructure between countries.  European countries also employ several breeds that are true dairy animals bred for their quantity of milk, as compared to Australia’s one commercially available dairy breed, the East Friesland and comprising of an extremely small gene pool. 

Diane gained substantial new knowledge in dairy sheep management as a result of the study tour, particularly in the areas of sheep management in a fully housed situation and extending to feed mix rations, ventilation and health management.  In terms of cheese making techniques, the trip also provided her with new experiences in the finishing off of cheeses, for enhancing flavour and for presentation, which she has since incorporated into her own cheese making. 

These new learnings, Diane believes, have given her a better understanding of the challenges the Australian industry faces and a realization that they are similar to those faced by other industries worldwide, learnings that she was eager to share with the rest of the Australian industry and with other rural women. 

Diane believes that for the Australian industry to move forward a number of major resolutions need to be made, including the establishment of a sheep cheese manufacturing teaching facility and the release of the Awassi breed to the Australian industry as a second dairy sheep breed and as a cross against the current East Friesland.


2004 Northern Territory Winner - Lee Berryman

Harvesting and Post Harvest Treatment of Bamboo Shoots

Lee Berryman, with husband Phil Vivian are the Northern Territory’s largest commercial bamboo growers and suppliers of fresh bamboo shoots.  Bamboo is a new commercial crop for the Northern Territory with a small, but growing number of producers. The Territory environment and distance pose unique challenges for harvesting and packaging, quality assurance and marketing, and with most research to date focused on temperate climates there is little data currently available of benefit for Territory growers to benchmark against. 

Lee’s proposed activity involved visiting a range of commercial bamboo farms to observe and document harvesting techniques, post-harvest treatment and packaging and transportation of bamboo.  Lee proposed to apply best practice on their own farm, documenting changes made to existing practices and reasons and then follow up the consignment from farm to markets to observe changes to the quality of product offered to consumers. 

Farm visits to commercial properties in Queensland and northern NSW were undertaken between January and February 2005 but due to the extremely short length of the 2004/2005 season market visits did not eventuate, nor did other management activities planned for that season, including application of best practice and monitoring of a consignment of bamboo shoots. 

The 2004/2005 season was an extremely difficult season brought about by a late and dry NT wet season, resulting in poor bamboo quantity and quality, with most growing areas coming on to market at the same time, resulting in an oversupply on the market and an early drop in prices. Major findings from the visits to other commercial bamboo shoot producers can be summarized as:

  • There is little easily identifiable ‘best practice’ in harvesting techniques, post-harvest treatment, packaging or transportation, with wide variances resulting from individual preferences and circumstances. 
  • Further comparisons of overall returns from heavily thinned plants (the most common practice) and plants with little or no thinning may indicate that current practice is not the most economic option. 
  • There is little data to demonstrate ‘real’ economic returns from bamboo shoot production, and it may be that growers are accepting lifestyle alternatives over long term economic viability. 
  • Value adding, alternate uses and other options are being explored by most growers. 

The major conclusion to come out of Lee’s project was that while NT bamboo shoot production often has an early season niche, growers need to carefully evaluate whether bamboo products from the Territory can overcome the challenges of distance from large markets and the transport costs involved, to enable them to compete with other more suitable growing regions and to achieve longer term sustainable returns. 

As a direct result of the visits, Lee and Phil actively explored nursery and ornamental bamboo production and supplies. They also adapted management techniques and reducing plant thinning and more closely watched market pricing of bamboo shoot to assess actual returns against required returns, given the costs of harvest and transport.

For Lee the opportunity to visit a wide range of growers and discuss issues related to bamboo shoot production and handling was an extremely valuable one, providing her with information and contacts difficult to gain other than through face to face contact and information and contacts that she will share across the Territory industry.



2003 New South Wales Winner - Milada Safarik

Milada Safarik with the support of the Award, achieved a world first in marine worm production for the aquaculture industry. Milada is a research scientist and one of the principals of Aquabait, the first and currently the only marine worm farm in Australia.  Her vision is to support the development of a sustainable and viable new aquaculture industry for Australia, through the development of farm grown marine worm bait, and by doing so reduce the pressure on the environment, while creating new opportunities for rural enterprise and employment for rural women. 

Milada’s project focused on research and development, critical to a newly emerging industry and critical also to full proofing marine worm production. Her research effort resulted in a world first in the cultivation of the marine tube worm Diopatra aciculate for the recreational bait industry and in the completion of two significant research reports. 

Report 1: Density dependant growth of the polychaete Diopatra aciculata: 

The study analysed how the growth of the marine tube worm is affected at different stocking densities and was important in determining the appropriate density level for highest growth rates with the best biomass return (published with the journal, Scientia Marina).

Report 2: Jaw growth and replacement in Diopatra aciculata:

The study focused in the jaw structure of the tube worm and discovered that the tube worm molts its maxillae at different periods of its lifecycle and as a result can be aged accordingly. This was previously unknown by the scientific community. 

Both projects have contributed to the scientific and commercial knowledge of the tube worm Diopatra aciculate and both projects will be published in scientific journals, thereby contributing to the further development of the aquaculture industry.  Both scientific reports were presented by Milada at the 8th International Polychaete Conference held in Spain in July 2004. 

On a personal level, Milada says the Award and the research effort undertaken grew her knowledge and contacts within the industry, both nationally and internationally, and has increased her profile and that of Aquabait Pty Ltd.

The Award also opened up opportunities for Milada, both within and out of the industry, to participate in various conferences that were extremely valuable to her development. Aquabait’s customer base doubled in the 2003-2004 summer period as a direct result of the increased exposure the Award provided, with the first export opportunities currently under investigation.

In addition the research projects she undertook were all with the support of some very professional women that were valuable partners and scientists in the fields of marine and polychaete biology.

These relationships in turn promoted interest from students, some who were involved with the data collection of the density study of Diopatra aciculata, and who have the capacity to become the next generation of female scientists. discussed research collaborations between Newcastle university and Aquabait Pty Ltd for future research effort.


2003 Victoria Winner - Anna Aldridge

Anna is a qualified winemaker and wine marketing consultant based in Victoria’s Yarra Valley.  The Yarra Valley, in close proximity to Melbourne, is Victoria’s most visited wine region and is renowned for outstanding cool climate wines. 

Her vision for the future of the Yarra Valley wine industry is to see the region develop sustainable initiatives that strengthen its pre-eminent position, as a global leader in the production of cool climate wines, and that its wine grape growers achieve consistently better than average prices in return for above average quality produce. 

At the time of the Award Anna was deeply concerned about her region’s future sustainability given the dramatic expansion in grape production nationwide. She believed that in the face of intense competition from larger corporations, the majority of smaller Australian wineries would need to develop new strategies to market their product to remain viable. 

Her proposed activity was to execute a marketing plan for the Yarra Valley Wine Network, (the Yarra Valley Winegrowers Association - promotional sub-committee) to position the Yarra Valley internationally as a leading cool climate wine producing region. 

A study tour to New Zealand enabled research into a similar cool climate wine industry to enhance the project. Anna was able to investigate their viticulture and wine making practices along with their marketing strategies. New Zealand has a cohesive marketing campaign and has branded its products extraordinarily successfully in key export markets such as the United Kingdom.

 The ten day study tour incorporated the four leading New Zealand wine regions of Marlborough and Hawkes Bay on the North Island and Marlborough and Central Otago on the South, visiting numerous vineyards, wineries and meeting with a number of wine and tourism bodies. Of particular interest was the New Zealand industry’s efforts and experience in regional branding. Regional branding is recognized as a means by which the industry can further develop its marketing strategy, to respond to the increasing maturity and complexity of its domestic and major export markets and the threat of rising competition to stay ahead of the rest of the wine pack. 

Anna also investigated the issue of wine closures, as winemakers faced the quality and marketing issues associated with cork versus screw cap.  Anna recorded and reported on the viticultural, winemaking and marketing findings of her tour, which she made available to members of the Yarra Valley Winegrowers Association, and which assisted the region’s wine industry personnel in all facets of their business.  She also write and distributed a marketing plan for the Yarra Valley Wine Network, which at the time boasted a membership of 21 regional wineries. 

In addition, Anna was instrumental in developing a comprehensive website specific to the Network, providing background information on the Yarra Valley, detailed information on member wineries, media releases, reviews, and an events calendar, complete with links to distributors worldwide and a dedicated wine trade section.

The website went online in January 2004 and won high praise and commendation throughout the industry. An electronic newsletter was also distributed to over 1000 trade, media and relevant wine industry groups throughout the world. Network member wineries were confident of economic gain to the Yarra Valley region as a direct result of the Award’s assistance in researching and implementing a marketing plan. 

On a personnel level, the Award greatly enhanced Anna’s understanding of the international wine industry. The visit to New Zealand augmented her industry networks and was of enormous benefit to her consultancy business. The process of setting up the Yarra Valley Network required organizational and negotiating skills and the opportunity to refine such skills was invaluable. In addition, her term as RIRDC Rural Women’s Award 2003 Victorian Winner allowed her to explore leadership and networking skills that will have long-term benefits.


2003 Queensland Winner - Desley Vella

Desley’s twelve month tenure as the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award 2003 Queensland Winner culminated in study tours and extended learning. 

Desley’s vision is to promote the sugar industry and agriculture in a positive way, while improving the economic prospects of the region’s cane farms and local rural community, through the development of the Cane Cutters Barracks-a Cultural Ecotourism Venture. 

The main objective of the venture was to provide the community with a cultural educational venue that highlights sustainable land use and natural resource management practices, while enhancing economic opportunities and facilitating communication between rural and non-rural sectors of the community.

“The Barracks Project’ was borne out of a need to diversify business and employment opportunities, against the backdrop of a depressed sugar industry, a decline in local employment opportunities and a drift by the younger generation to capital cities.

The Barracks is a heritage facility, located at Babinda in the Far North Queensland ‘Wet Tropics.’ The Barracks Project provided an opportunity to capitalize on the existing infrastructure and natural assets of the region. 

Desley put the bursary towards a study tour of Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria, to observe heritage, tourism, and farm ecotourism, in action in other states and to learn from their environmental management systems and promotion and marketing campaigns. 

During her tenure as Queensland winner, Desley also completed a number of courses, including the Australian Institute of Company Directors course, the Ideas 2 Market Commercialisation Workshop and a Certificate of Accreditation for International Tour Coordination, and is currently completing a Recognition of Prior Learnings, all geared towards extending her skills, knowledge and capacity in rural and regional enterprise and marketing. 

‘The Barracks Project’ evolved to make better use of available human and economic resources, and from a cane cutters barrack museum and environmental rehabilitation site, emerged a cane cutters barracks style accommodation, complete with educational study tours and environmental rehabilitation and community website.  Twelve months on and the barrack’s dilapidated structure was restored and furnished with period antiques, memorabilia and historical photographs and story records. Postcards and stationary capturing the region and its agriculture have also been designed and printed and an educational study tour is in the making and soon to get underway. 

At a personal level, Desley believes the Award and in particular the AICD course has instilled in her the confidence and capacity to make a further contribution to her community and the organizations she represents.  She has made a contribution into a number of initiatives, including the region’s Strategic Plan, she was also elected the primary producer representative on a four member panel that reviewed the $10 million BSES (Bureau of Sugar Experiment Station) Prosper and SRDC BSS260 Program and is currently organizing a third International Study Tour of the Babinda region.


2003 South Australia Winner - Sharon Starick

At the time of the Award, Sharon had for the previous decade been intrinsically involved in the South Australian Murray Darling Basin and the management of its natural resources. She was involved with the Community Advisory Committee for the Murray Darling Basin Commission, the South Australian Murray Darling Basin Natural Resource Management Steering Committee and took on the position of Deputy Chair of the South Australian Farmers Federation Natural Resources Committee. 

Over the previous 15 years management of the natural resources by the community of the South Australian Murray Darling Basin had moved from addressing single issues at an individual Landcare level to one of addressing a range of issues at a regional level and from addressing the symptoms to the causes of degradation.

Sharon’s concern was that the improved management of the Basin’s natural resources had taken place on an ‘ad hoc’ basis, with some priority issues receiving little or no attention and while significant resources have been committed to planning, education and awareness raising activities the condition of many of the natural resources continues to decline.  She believes that a whole of landscape change is required, involving significant community adjustment, if communities are able to participate and be actively involved in solutions, and priority natural resource management issues, such as water quality and salinity, are to be addressed.

The aim of her project was to expand community capacity through expanding her knowledge and understanding of the processes associated with managing change, while investigating some of the innovative processes implemented by other communities within the Murray Darling Basin. 

A study tour of catchments throughout New South Wales and Victoria, covering some 4,000 kilometres over eight days and meeting with a range of persons from landholders to Landcare facilitators and members to Catchment Management Authority Executives proved extremely successful in gathering information on change management processes.  The tour involved numerous visitations, inspections and field trips and face to face interviews with some 20 participants who shared their stories of natural management change within their districts. Key learnings from the study tour were collated and categorized against: 

  • Motivators for Natural Resource Management Change.
  • Future Challenges for Natural Resource Management
  • Future Opportunities for Natural Resource Management
  • Key Principles for Change Management

While the tour resulted in no quick fix solution to change management a number of key principles were developed to assist decision makers to assist communities embrace whole of landscape change.

Notable amongst these are that all have a responsibility, be it landholders, industry, community and all tiers of government to management our natural resources, there is a need to understand the capacity of the communities to implement changes, and a need to engage with the community to ensure natural resource management takes into account economic, social and cultural issues, and that change needs to be driven by the community in partnership with government. 

Importantly while individual circumstances and specific issues may differ, the importance of people in managing change and the processes to assist communities through the change apply equally to all states and to the total Basin. However three opportunities for natural resource management that have application to South Australia were identified and these were: 

  • Stewardship payments for farmers to manage natural resources. 
  • The establishment of reference groups involving all key stakeholders to develop trusting relationships to engage all stakeholders to enable change.
  • The development of ‘Train the Trainer’ models to train potential delivers within the community to enable greater access to knowledge and skills. 

Sharon disseminated her findings to eight industry and community groups, including the SA CARE Team, the Murray Mallee Strategic Task Force and the SAFF Future Leaders Forum. 

She believes her knowledge and understanding of change management processes associated with natural resource management grew significantly and as a result she has now developed a better understanding of the diversity of natural resource management issues within the Basin, their complexity and the economic and social implications involving in addressing them. As a result of her new found knowledge and exposure Sharon has become more involved in natural resource management at various levels. 

She believes the numerous groups and organizations that she is involved with have benefited from this knowledge and that the principles developed and opportunities identified as a result of this project will be implemented by these organizations.


2003 Western Australia Winner - Erica Starling

Few know the Western Australian tuna long lining industry like Erica Starling. She is owner and operator of Indian Ocean Fresh Australia, a fish packing, wholesaling and distribution operation, which is a processor for some 16 vessels fishing the Southern and Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery. (WSRBF). 

At the time of the Award, Erica had also served as an industry representative on the Southern and Western Tuna and Billfish Fishery Management Advisory Committee, under the direction of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.  Her vision for her industry is to see the fishery return a stable price to its fishers, through consistent supply and guaranteed quality within a sustainable environment. 

The fishery exports predominantly into Japan and the US, with a small quantity destined for the European Union. Bioterrorism and food safety issues emerged as major challenges, necessitating higher standards of documentation along the supply chain, to ensure continued market access.  And while the tuna fisheries of the East and West Coasts both have their own code of practices, governing environmental and marine regulation and fisheries regulation, no specific catch handling manual had been written for the entire fishery. 

The aim of Erica’s project was to assure the fishery’s customers of a consistent quality by guaranteeing all handling methods from ocean through to plate are optimal to ensuring the highest quality and safety of the product. The fishery and its product has the potential then to be branded with a certified method of handling best practices that in turn could be used as a powerful marketing tool.  The ultimate goal was to produce a user friendly manual to guide skippers and crew on the best method of handling their product on board, and flexible enough to meet their own unique vessel characteristics.

The manual will also be a useful tool in training both new and existing crew members to maintain consistent handling practices.  The bursary was leveraged into a wider project, supported by the Seafood Industry Development Fund (Fisheries Research and Development Corporation) to include both the East and West Coast Tuna Fisheries. 

Following extensive scoping and investigation of past handling practices along with a review of all current food safety issues and protocols, information was collated and a series of audits conducted including interviews with a number of skippers and crew. The information was then collaborated into the draft manual and then reviewed by specialist seafood scientists and food technologists.  The Australian Tuna Manual Handling Project was then printed. Initial feedback from industry and buyers alike was extremely promising with the manual’s release eagerly awaited. 

Erica believes the Award has been of considerably more value to her than she initially anticipated. She believes it opened up numerous speaking opportunities and avenues to promote her industry and rural women. The bursary allowed her to complete a project she has always wanted to do, it has also challenged her in new skills development, particularly in writing a technical document and a document that she believes will be of immense practical value to her industry.


2003 Tasmania Winner - Lee Adamson Ringk

Lee Adamson Ringk is principal of ‘De Floriet’ a new commercial cut flower enterprise that aims to grow Tasmanian wildflowers as an intensive horticultural crop under environmentally sound and sustainable conditions and management practices. 

Lee’s vision is for a sustainable and diversified system of wild and exotic flower production, through the selection of species that work in harmony with the natural environment. 

She believes the Tasmanian wildflower industry promises huge potential, as an emerging horticultural crop, with promising markets both domestically and overseas that offer significant social and employment opportunities both for rural women and their families as well as smaller rural holdings. 

The bursary enabled Lee to travel to Melbourne to attend the Melbourne Flower Show to observe the florist industries’ application of cut flowers and observe innovative design techniques. She also travelled across the Tasman to the South Island of New Zealand to study their flower farming and environmental management systems.

 At the Melbourne Flower Show, Lee observed a disappointingly limited usage of wildflowers by exhibitors. However she was able to identify a number of applications for Tasmanian wildflowers, as replacements for more intensively grown flower and foliage crops. This confirmed that there is a suitable niche for wildflowers in the industry that has yet to be developed. 

The South Island of New Zealand was targeted as it has a similar geographic position and similar environmental conditions to Tasmania. In addition many of the South Island’s growers are proving they can be viable on small holdings of less than ten acres.  Lee met with five grower enterprises and investigated their commercial flower operations, along with a visitation to the Floramax flower auction where the majority of flowers are auctioned directly to florists.  Key learnings for Lee from the New Zealand study tour included first-hand knowledge of a flower growing system similar to their own, along with an insight into the operations of five individual farms and the application of their breeding and management systems to those in Tasmania. 

Lee was able to share her knowledge from the New Zealand study tour to other growers at a number of field days and she wrote a number of reports on her findings for inclusion in industry and association newsletters.  On a personal level, Lee confirmed her belief that commercial viability for a flower and foliage grower is achievable on a small holding, making floriculture a suitable on-farm diversification.

In addition the opportunity to establish a thorough support network amongst her peers and New Zealand associates provided essential learning skills and mentoring resources. This has been reflected in her own ability to provide support to other growers and encourage diversification in knowledge gathering. 

Overall the Award has substantiated Lee’s belief that Tasmanian wildflowers have a market niche and that commercial production of these species does not have to occur on large scale monoculture systems. This makes the establishment of the Tasmanian wildflower growers network more accessible to low capital and first time flower farmers, benefiting both local economies and regional growth.


2003 Northern Territory Winner - Beverley Wilson

At the time of the Award, Beverley had worked with the Northern Territory pastoral industry for the previous 30 years, during which time she carried on with her a commitment to sustainable agricultural and natural resource management practices, which she has implemented where ever practical on property.  Beverley’s focus was on feral pig control and reducing the destructive impact that pigs have on the pastoral industry and the environment.

Her vision is for agriculture to utilize all of its resources, including its feral animals, for a dual benefit of preserving the biodiversity of the environment and reducing the cost burden of feral animal control on the pastoral industry.  A feral pig production and processing industry had been operating for some time in the Northern Territory, but the industry relied on backyard operators and is devoid of food safety and quality assurance controls. 

Bev’s short term goals included field testing a sample of feral pigs, from collection and care through to slaughter at the Litchfield abattoir, with particular emphasis on meat quality, while at the same time raising the profile of the harvested pig meat industry. A higher profile was seen as critical to improving market acceptance and increasing market outlets for the meat, and to achieving the long term goal of establishing a co-ordinated approach to the industry’s logistics and processing, from collection and transportation of shot animals to the safe and hygienic handling of field shot meat through to export abattoir. 

A study tour of eco-friendly piggeries in Victoria and South Australia, confirmed that Bev’s animal husbandry and management practices were of a high standard and that the free range system can be equally applied to feral pig production.  She was able to successfully demonstrate the collection and management of feral pigs and prove the positive impact of controlling feral pigs on the biodiversity of the environment. 

However extenuating circumstances, including higher grain prices coupled with competition from alternate meat imports, meant that Beverley was unable to secure suitable markets and end-users for her pig meat and unable to achieve the profile she had hoped for the harvested pig meat industry.  Despite this Beverley feels she gained much from the Award in terms of confidence and knowledge and intends to continue to pursue her ambitions for a viable feral pig meat industry for the Top End.



2002 New South Wales Winner - Robbie Sefton

Hunters and Gatherers - a Better Way of Understanding the Information Needs of Rural Australia

Robbie has a dual investment in rural Australia, as a producer, running a farm business involved in wool, meat and grains and as a communication consultant, running a national and specialist public relations agency catering to clients who need to communicate with rural, regional and remote Australia. 

Robbie’s vision is for a vibrant and tenacious rural Australia, full of opportunities for a healthy future for the next generation of primary producers and regional communities and with it a stronger voice for rural Australia.

She believes a better understanding of the issues driving rural communities and their people, will allow both public and private sector organisations to better target the delivery of products and services required to sustain rural Australia. 

Her proposed activity involved the development of a network of ‘hunters and gatherers’ of social, economic and biophysical information throughout rural and regional Australia. 

The overriding objective of the project was to establish and evaluate the way in which the ‘hunters and gatherers’ concept could be implemented to assist in improving two-way communications with rural, regional and remote Australia.  The project would fill what is a serious void in accurate, reliable and current information on rural Australia and would set up an enduring framework for reliable data collection from rural communities. 

Information collected was to include: 

  • Economic -Economic drivers, key industries, employment trends & key business developments.
  • Social -Health, education, telecommunication and other services.
  • Cultural and Demographic - Aboriginal, women & youth issues. 
  • Political – federal, state & local. 
  • Media.

The ultimate aim of the proposal was to have a “hunter-gatherer” network, with over 1,000 villages, towns and rural cities, each with a district population of 2,000 or more, throughout Australia feeding into the information network. 

A draft Strategic Plan was completed and included an analysis of relevant sociological research, an examination of previous rural and regional communication initiatives and consultation with government, media, business, social and technology organisations. Importantly the plan reinforced the need for accurate and timely data and has won strong support from key public and private sector organisations. 

The specifications for the gathering, amalgamation and analysis of data were completed and were used as the basis to prepare a briefing document for the ‘hunters and gatherers’, to ensure uniformity of materials gathered, to provide for direct comparison and meaningful analysis.

Initial assessment of a range of rural communities within New South Wales, deemed suitable to be involved in the pilot program, along with a preliminary analysis of potential participants in each area, was undertaken.  A pilot program, involving rural communities targeted within New South Wales, was scheduled for implementation in late 2003.  The success of the pilot program was critical to the future roll out of the program, both within New South Wales and Australia wide. 

Robbie believes the implications of the concept would be significant for the way in which private and public sector entities relate to rural and regional Australia. The delivery of this information will allow government agencies, business and industry organisations to develop policy, programs and services, which not only meet the needs of rural and regional areas, but will also be embraced by the people living within those communities. 

Robbie believes passionately that for rural and regional Australia to prosper and grow, rural women must be given the opportunity to be economically empowered and financially independent. She believes her project when fully operational would allow over 1,000 women the opportunity to have an additional income through information collection, income that was previously not available to them.

In the twelve months of the Award Robbie learnt more about what life is really like in the bush and has been truly humbled by the experiences the Award has given her. The overwhelming key learnings during the year include:

  • Women are the silent partners yet they are the glue that hold families and communities together.
  • Young women are around but too busy to be seen.
  • Women in the bush are aging and tired but remain resilient and passionate.
  • Women in the bush are wise.
  • Farming families are not encouraging their children to return to the farm.
  • Life on the farm is becoming ever more challenging for all involved.

Her personal goal is to be as generous and as gracious with her new learnings in life, by passing these on to other women on her journey in life, and repay the compliment of women to her over past years.


2002 Victoria Winner - Carol Mathew

Alpaca Processing and Markets in the Outside World

At the time of the Award Carol Mathew was an alpaca stud breeder and a Director of the Australian Alpaca Association and the industry representative on the RIRDC Rare Natural Fibre Committee. Carol’s vision is to see the Australian Alpaca Industry become a viable agricultural industry, which value-adds to the Australian clip. 

The Australian herd is currently estimated to number 50,000 animals, making it the largest herd outside South America, where in Peru the herd totals three million and in Bolivia and Chile, between them, 1 .5 million head. The Australian alpaca industry is a new and emerging agricultural industry and in 2002 was at a critical stage of its development. In 2002, while domestic demand outstripped processing capacity and supply, the herd size was predicted to more than double within five years, making the establishment of processing capacity and export markets critical to the industry’s future viability and success.

The primary objective of Carol’s proposed activity was to assist the industry value-add to the clip, by firstly, seeking out scouring and processing opportunities offshore, before acquiring knowledge of export processing requirements, export demand, opportunities and niches, necessary to secure new markets for the clip. Her proposed activity involved two major study tours, the first to New Zealand and the second and larger tour to Japan, the UK and Italy. 

The New Zealand tour involved meeting with key members of the NZ industry, including the New Zealand Alpaca Association, the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand, along with numerous fibre producing and processing firms. As a direct result of her tour, the Australian Alpaca Cooperative entered into business arrangements with a number of New Zealand firms, who committed to commercially scouring the Australian clip.  The second study tour involved meetings with international industry representatives in Tokyo, London, Leeds, Florence (including the Pitti Filati Trade Fair) and other Italian cities. 

While the tour revealed the fibre market internationally and alpaca prices alike to be depressed, valuable contacts were made and knowledge gained on fibre blends and trends, export capacity and demand and possible opportunities for the Australian clip.

Key learnings from the tour included the international market emphasis on blends as a continuously evolving point of difference, the fact that if Italian processors do not use the fleece it does not make the retail shelves, along with strong feedback on the quality of the Australian clip and the belief that the Australian industry knows how to produce superior fibre.

Significantly one top Italian manufacturing firm expressed a keen interest in developing an exclusive alliance with Australia alpaca. The major hurdle to the alliance being forged was the Australian industry’s capacity to deliver the required supply. 

The implications of Carol’s project on the Australian alpaca industry were very significant, not only in the knowledge and contacts gained, but in the opening up of new opportunities for processing in New Zealand and new possibilities to export into Italy. These opportunities steered the industry in the right direction to securing its long-term viability and longevity.  The twelve months were personally challenging for Carol and resulted in numerous speaking engagements, including keynote address to the Australian Alpaca National Conference and talks to the Australian Sheep & Wool Show and the Victorian Alpaca Fiesta.

The Award also considerably expanded Carol’s international contacts and her knowledge of the global fibre market and the threats and opportunities the Australian industry faces. This knowledge has enabled her to argue points of view more successfully and succinctly, in discussions on issues pertinent to the industry.


2002 Queensland Winner - Mary Lankester

The Business of Tropical Wine

Mary is a banana grower from Northern Queensland and an active industry participant, sitting on the Executive Committee of the Innisfail Banana Growers Association and at the Time of the Award was the only woman member on the industry benchmarking Better Banana Group.  Her vision is for a vibrant and positive rural Australia, by developing new and alternate agricultural industries, which offer career opportunities for the regions and for the next generation. 

Mary was frustrated with the excessive wastage of fruit, with close to 15% of the state’s bananas sent to the fresh fruit market rejected due to minor skin blemishes. 

Her proposed activity involved the development of a regional industry and tourism venture in tropical fruit wines, by utilising the discarded second grade fruit.  The objectives of her proposed activity were three fold: 

  • To construct a business plan, complete with a targeted marketing plan for the tropical wine venture. 
  • To upskill herself and the venture, with training in winemaking and business and marketing skills along with knowledge on best practice winery design and quality assurance export standards, while seeking out opportunities for business mentoring.
  • To establish a laboratory to monitor quality controls and ensure consistent product development. 

In her 12 month tenure Mary attended some 36 courses, with a focus on leadership, business and winemaking, with all courses relevant to the development of the tropical fruit wine industry.  The business plan was completed, an Australian Institute of Company Director’s course attended and passed and supply chain avenues to Japan were explored.

The laboratory was established to the stage of monitoring product development and satisfying all legal requirements. Equipment was installed in the laboratory, and most importantly the ReflectoQuant has made testing quality and accuracy significantly faster and more reliable.

The winery was fitted out and now named “Paradise Wines” with the first commercial production in May 2002, coinciding with her first major taste-testing undertaken in Victoria in May 2002 at the “Best of Australian Banquet” as part of AFFA’s Women in Innovation program.

On a personal level, Mary can now boast a solid knowledge of winemaking, business and marketing, knowledge that she has been able to share through media, community groups and conferences to the fruit wine industry, both within Australia and abroad.

Mary’s project was the catalyst behind the start-up of other tropical fruit ventures and was instrumental in the establishment of the Association for Tropical Northern Queensland Wineries, upon which she was Vice-President. 

The Association was the first fruit wine association of its type in Australia. It boasted 30 members at the time of the Award and was rapidly expanding.


2002 South Australian Winner - June Gill


June lives in the small fishing town of Port Victorian on the Yorke Peninsula and has spent her working life in the wild catch commercial fishing industry, from deckhand with her father to a working Company Director of a business she shares with her family. 

Her enduring passion has been to lift the awareness of the important role women play in the seafood industry and for the seafood industry to be recognised as ‘more than a bunch of blokes in boats’ but rather as a seafood community. Her determination and perseverance saw the foundation of the South Australian Women’s Industry Network in 1999 and its transition into a national entity, and the Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community in 2000, which she was elected founding President.

Her vision is to provide seafood women, both in South Australia and nationally, with learning opportunities and with the support and resources to pursue new business goals and stronger industry involvement.  June, through her day to day contact and conversations with women in the fishing industry, identified a need for a document that would provide them with information and strategies for dealing with industry and government and for furthering themselves and their businesses.

The major objective of her proposed activity was to utilise her current skills, knowledge and experience, through compiling and writing a practical handbook that would provide a clear and useful set of strategies to support seafood women. 

Extensive research was undertaken prior to compiling the book, including expansive reading on available literature, internet searches and extensive consultation with relevant agencies and her target audience, to make sure the book truly satisfied its potential customers’ needs.  The book titled “Equilibrium” comprised a number of sections: 

  • How to Begin - Information gathering, support groups, rights and services, organising yourself, exchange of information process and keeping it organised. 
  • How to Select Professionals or Agencies - Preparing for meetings, assessment, selecting professionals, selecting an agency and a word of caution. 
  • How to Deal with Professionals - Preparing for meetings, assessment, meeting and conferences, breaking impasses and applying pressure.
  • CD-Rom Business Directory.

 “Equilibrium” (Equilibrium is any condition in which all acting influences are cancelled by others, resulting in a stable, balanced or unchanging state) was launched in Adelaide on World Rural Women’s Day-15 October 2002, to a gathering of some sixty industry and government leaders.

As of 1 May 2003 two hundred copies of the book had been distributed and an additional two hundred sold and distributed throughout South Australia.

The 12-month tenure of the Award changed June’s views on people’s skill development and on their level of confidence and confirmed the need for such a book. The Award provided the resources to put her vision into action. The book, she believes, will be a valuable tool for women, not just in the seafood industry, but across industries, to further themselves and their business ventures. 

On a personal level, June says the Award provided her with new opportunities to network and develop lasting friendships with rural women and new opportunities to promote her passion - the seafood community.


2002 Western Australia Winner - Angela Whittington

Review of the future potential for plum breeding in Western Australia in relation to the International Plum Industry

Angela’s involvement in horticulture in Western Australia has crossed many facets of the industry from importing horticultural machinery to owning and operating a wholesale fruit and vegetable operation and one of the state’s largest stonefruit export operations, to in more recent times growing stonefruit on farm.

Angela is motivated by the huge opportunities that Western Australia and its proximity to South East Asia offers the horticultural industry and by the opportunities the horticultural industry affords rural women. 

While at the time of the Award Western Australia produced only 10% of Australia’s plum production, it produced 20 major plum varieties and was responsible for 60% of total exports. At the time of the Award, world consumption of plums exceeded 9 million tonnes, with over half of world consumption and production in China. The rapid emergence of China as a market within the previous 10 years had been a key factor behind the industry’s expansion in Australia, and South Africa and Chile.

Total world production of plums doubled in the five years to 2001, with exports exceeding $250m US dollars per annum. Angela believes that Western Australia, in terms of growing conditions, seasons and proximity to market, is uniquely positioned to capitalise on the opportunity that China presents, if the state’s industry can come up with a plum with growing and eating qualities, superior to its competitors and at the most opportune time for the market.

Her proposed activity involved reviewing the potential for plum breeding in Western Australia, by way of a study tour of our industry’s major off-season competitor - the United States - and our major export customer, SE Asia. The key objectives of her proposed activity were to:

  • Develop an in-depth understanding of the international market for plums. 
  • Develop an understanding of breeding programs in Australia and how they compare to the world’s largest breeder of plums, the United States. 
  • Develop an understanding of the SE Asian market and the potential for Australia to supply that market into the future. 

The study tour of the United States, concentrated on the West Coast, focusing on the major growing region of the San Joaquin Valley in California and visiting major producers, packers and exporters, along with researchers behind US breeding programs.  The second stage of the tour involved our major export customers of Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and China, with meetings with key importing and government officials, along with inspections of markets and their infrastructure.  In addition, a brief tour of the domestic industry was undertaken, to fully quantify the Australian industry, and took in Swan Hill and Shepparton in Victoria and the Granite Belt of Queensland.  The major conclusion Angela has drawn from her study tours is that while there are many opportunities, there are just as many challenges ahead for the Western Australian industry.

The United States industry, with its long history of plant breeding and its strong protection through plant variety rights, meant that it will continue to be the dominant breeder of new plum cultivars and would continue to set the benchmark in new varieties for the major international growers, exporters and importers.

The reality is that while many thousands of varieties of plums may go to trial at any one time, of which some 10-20 varieties may reach commercial release, the cost of replacing existing trees with new patented varieties, when international buyers are reluctant to pay the premiums required, results in few new varieties becoming commercially accepted and planted in any great quantity. 

Against these cost impediments, is a supply chain where very few importers or consumers in Asia can identify more than two or three plum varieties, providing little incentive for new varieties with superior eating qualities, let alone the guarantee of varietial recognition and a premium price from export markets. 

Despite these conclusions, Angela believes the study tour and the knowledge she gained had some important implications on the Western Australian industry. She firmly believes that rather than trying to compete with the United States through traditional breeding programs, the Australian industry should be concentrating its efforts of fast tracking breeding through genetic engineering programs, along with reducing costs and streamlining the trailing and release of new cultivars, so that they are identified and accessed in a much faster and transparent way. 

The Award provided Angela with the opportunity to gain a more insightful and comprehensive level of understanding about the structure and workings of the international traded plum market. These insights she believes will be far reaching as she applies it to her own environment and to encouraging the Western Australian plum industry to the next level of production and international competitiveness.


2002 Tasmania Winner - Jeanette Reader

Import Replacement of Processed Asia Vegetables-Daikon Radish the Test Case

Jeanette, in partnership with her husband, runs a mixed farming enterprise, in Tasmania’s Northern Midlands comprising of predominantly crops along with cattle and prime lambs. The cropping regime is centred on seed crops, namely hybrid cabbage seed, poppies and pyrethrum.  Jeanette’s vision is to provide new opportunities for Tasmanian farming families, through the development of new products and the opening up of new markets. 

She is very concerned about the reliance of farming families within the state, on too few industries and too few processors, to guarantee a satisfactory and reliable income. She believes that there are untapped industries and value adding opportunities within Tasmania that if proven, will benefit enormously farming families. 

Her proposed activity focused on the production and processing of Asian vegetables and initially Daikong radishes as a new opportunity for the state.  Research undertaken into pickled and dried Asian vegetables, revealed that while Australia during the late 1990’s exported around A$40million processed vegetables, it also imported A$132million of products including processed Asian vegetables.

Trials undertaken in the early 1990’s proved that Asian vegetables could be successfully grown in Tasmania. The overriding objective of Jeanette’s project was to develop a new industry and new opportunities for farming enterprises, by growing and processing a product with a guaranteed market through replacing imports, and a guaranteed financial return by avoiding the demand and price fluctuations of the fresh market. 

On the production front, variety trials were re-established and from the initial cull of less than optimal varieties, seven varieties were chosen for initial planting. Varieties were selected on their suitability to climatic conditions and physical traits for processing. Varieties found suitable to local Tasmania conditions included Summer Cross and Okura Cross, with Super Cloud and Relish Cross requiring further trial work to test suitability.

On the processing front, contact was made with key researchers to discuss major issues, including pickling solutions, drying conditions and physical treatment of product. Pleasingly the pickling solution Jeanette trialled was similar to that used extensively in official laboratory testing and thus ideal for processing, while research has revealed optimal drying conditions to be at low temperature and slow, to avoid any detrimental effect on flavour and colour. The physical treatment of the product, be it slicing, dicing or cutting into strips would be determined by the market itself. 

Vacuum packing the product was also investigated and shown to be beneficial in extending the shelf life of the product, while presenting it in an easy to use format. 

The potential demand for the processed vegetables and possible markets were also investigated. A visit to Food Science at Werribee, confirmed a market domestically for pickled product, including Daikon radish and Daikon leaf. A visit to the Melbourne market resulted in contact with a company that supplies processing plant machinery, which will be invaluable for future infrastructure. A visit to the Defense Nutrition Research Centre at Scottsdale was important in discussing food safety issues and testing their pickling solution; a test that returned positive results. 

While much work was to be done, including a successful planting, numerous processing issues and securing necessary markets, Jeanette believed the initial results of her efforts to be extremely promising. She believed the project offered, long term, the opportunity of a new enterprise and an alternate and additional source of farm income and greater financial independence and security. She also believes her project offers rural women the opportunity of a new enterprise and the challenge of fully utilising their wide range of skills. 

The most significant outcome would have been the development of a product, with a guaranteed and consistent supply, necessary to allow farming enterprises reliable and consistent returns and the opportunity of being financially self-reliant, while intrinsically involved in the total production to processing process.

On a personal level the Award boosted Jeanette’s skills development and confidence. Her project put her in the spotlight, both at an industry and government level, where she has been selected to represent women at a committee and board level, on an issue she is passionate about, the education and training of young people.


2002 Northern Territory Winner - Kate Hadden

Building Sustainable Indigenous Economies through Natural Resource Development

Kate has close to fifteen years experience in sustainable land management and at the time of the Award was the Environment and Heritage Officer for the Tiwi Land Council. Kate’s vision for natural resource management generally and for the Tiwi people in particular, is to build sustainable economies around the development of natural resources without compromising cultural and natural heritage values. 

The Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory are actively exploring development opportunities as a means of gaining self-determination through economic independence. There has long been concern from Tiwi leaders that reliance on the welfare system does not provide a vehicle for sustained economic opportunities or positive social outcomes. 

The Inuit people of Canada are regarded as having successfully attained self-determination and are now focusing on building a sustainable system that will advance socio-economic development through natural resource utilisation. 

Kate’s proposed activity centred on a tour of Nunavat and the Inuit people, in the belief that first-hand knowledge of their situation would be of immense value to the Tiwi people and to natural resource management in the Northern Territory. 

The overall objective of the project was to gain first-hand experience and knowledge of how an indigenous society is successfully shifting from traditional custodianship of land to contemporary resource management, while improving social and economic outcomes for their people. Particular emphasis was placed on resource development and on the balance between resource utilisation and the maintenance of natural resource and cultural values. 

Kate spent one month visiting and studying Inuit organisations and enterprises in Nunavut. Main activities included meetings and discussions with a range of organisations and individuals, to gain information and insight into the processes and procedures governing indigenous control of land and land administration, along with the development of sustainable economic ventures through natural resource utilisation. Kate met with representatives of the Canadian Federal Government, to Government of Nunavut, to Inuit representative bodies and Inuit owned businesses. 

Kate believes that the Inuit experience has conclusively proven that the development of economic opportunities if linked to self-determination and self-management will have positive social outcomes. While it is unlikely that the Tiwi Islands will attain territorial status, as the Inuit people have, there remain important elements within the Nunavat model that can be applied to the current Tiwi situation. 

One of the major issues facing Tiwi leadership is that of ownership of natural resources. Under current Federal and Territory legislation, cultural and natural heritage values and largely determined by non-Tiwi people, with ownership vested in relevant Ministers. 

This has translated to some dis-empowerment of Tiwi leaders to negotiate economic projects with potential investors and a lack of incentive to landowners to manage their resources responsibly. A unique feature of Nunavut decision-making has been the creation of Institutions of Public Government, where decisions on natural resource management are vested with the majority Inuit people.

 IPG’s form the cornerstone to Inuit ownership and control over natural resource usage, with Territory and Federal governments legally bound to accept the majority decisions of the Board. Similar structures and procedures over Aboriginal owned land would greatly enhance and streamline natural resource management and its sustainable commercialisation. 

The Nunavut government has recognised the importance of baseline information to sustaining resources. Funding was allocated to undertake studies into wildlife, which had been used to allocate quotas for traditional harvest and determine levels surplus for economic use. The paucity of baseline data on the Tiwi Islands had led to legislative bodies invoking the ‘precautionary principle’ which, while sound in terms of sustainable management, does not afford opportunities for commercial development. 

The Nunavut government also recognised serious deficiencies in physical infrastructure and that costly investment will be crucial to economic and social development. At the time of the Award the Tiwi were at a critical stage of development, with trial aquaculture and forestry industries proving viable and at the stage of providing significant employment and investment income. Gaps in physical infrastructure, including roads, ports, airstrips and accommodation, were constraining the realisation of economic dependence through core industries. 

The Inuit peoples transition from custodial land use had not been without its social challenges, including family breakdowns, youth suicide and domestic violence. However there was general agreement that self-determination is positive and would bring more opportunities to the region and a pride and sense of self-worth to its people. Key factors that the Inuit people have identified, that have contributed to a successful transition include competent and committed expatriate professional staff, acknowledgement of the vested interest of traditional people in the region, community input into decision making and local jobs and training opportunities. 

All of the above factors are valuable lessons that can be applied equally to indigenous rural communities in the Northern Territory as they explore opportunities for self-determination and economic independence. 


On a personal level Kate gained a greater understanding of the processes, procedures and pitfalls associated with the transition in Nunavut - from individual as well as institutional points of view. The fact that there are significant parallels between the two areas and the obvious benefits to Inuit, provides confirmation that the Tiwi are heading in a positive direction and that the challenges they face are not all unique.

This greatly increased Kate’s confidence in her role with Tiwi people and organisations and provided her with another dimension when dealing with government agencies. More importantly, it supported her vision that the balance between natural resource development and the maintenance of cultural and natural resource values is worth working towards.



2001 New South Wales Winner - Jon-Maree Baker

Skills and training to ensure the cotton industry's future sustainability

At the time of the Award, Jon-Maree had held the position of Executive Officer of Cotton Consultants Australia since 1997 and was the youngest Director of the Australian Cotton Industry Council. She owns and operates, in partnership with her husband, Baker Ag Services, and runs a farm specialising in Santa Gertrudis beef cattle and Australian stock horses.

Jon-Maree facilitated the first meeting of the Women's Industry Network Cotton, which resulted in the formation of a working group to progress the establishment of a network for the sharing of information and ideas.

Her vision for the cotton industry was one where all members, both male and female, are qualified and equipped to meet the changing demands of government, community and regulators.

She is committed to ensuring women have access to the necessary skills and training to enable them to play a greater role and in turn ensure the cotton industry's future sustainability. Jon-Maree was committed to establishing a pilot course that offers technical, business and leadership training to women across her industry.

She believed there was a real demand for such a course and believed it would be the catalyst to fostering a strong network among cotton women, to ensuring women's future involvement and contribution to their industry and to a strategy for women within the industry's overall strategic plan. She also believed the pilot course once developed would have widespread application across other rural industries for the benefit of women across agriculture.


2001 Victoria Winner - Sharyn Munnerley

The Development of the Australian Calf Rearing Research Centre

Sharyn is recognised as one of the country’s leading consultant’s in calf rearing, having spent close to the past decade researching its best practice.  Her vision was to turn calf rearing into a viable and sustainable industry in its own right. She believes there are huge opportunities for the dairy and beef industries to turn what has traditionally been regarded as a by-product into an economically valuable resource.  It is estimated that calf mortality is as high as 465,000 head per annum, representing a 10% loss in productivity to the Australian cattle industry.

Her proposed activity centred around the establishment of the Australian Calf Rearing Research Centre, to educate and facilitate the correct management of calves to producers and the broader community. The Centre would provide farmers with access to theoretical knowledge and practical skills and the opportunity to form valuable networks. Information would be available through the Centre by way of lectures and courses, field days, publications and videos and a dedicated website. 

Despite a number of major setbacks, including a major rezoning resulting in the relocation of the Centre and a failure to secure funding for new infrastructure, much of the information and technology was available to producers. 

The Centre’s website was launched in January 2002 - - and was positively received by rearers and industry groups throughout Australia.  The publication “The ABC of Calf Rearing” was launched at the Lardner Park Field Days in March 2002.  In addition, numerous courses and seminars were delivered and well received with negotiations currently underway to incorporate structured calf rearing educational packages into TAFE and agricultural colleges and schools. 

Eleven specifically designed calf rearing short courses were implemented covering various competencies, including buying and selecting calves, the importance of colostrum, feeding and weaning, digestion and nutrition, general management, disease prevention and management, targeted weight gains and growth rates, body scoring and muscle assessment and standards and legislation.  In addition, Centre staff attended numerous field days, including Lardner Park, Stanhope and Acme, where an average of 700 people a day and at Denison, where 200 people visited the stand and sought out information on calf rearing.

The Centre was involved in the development of new products designed to aid in calf health and welfare and was commissioned to support the development of other major cattle management projects. 

The Centre has had a significant impact on calf rearing practices and has already gained much credibility from rural organisations and educational institutions alike. In specific terms it has enhanced employment outcomes and business opportunities for new and existing calf rearers while providing regional economic benefits. A potential $5,000 in life-span production per animal was realised, and mortality and morbidity rates have been reduced.

At a personal level, Sharyn believes the Award and the skills and recognition she has gained from it, to be one of the pivotal and turning points in her life, and has enabled her to achieve her driving ambition and long term vision, for the Australian Calf Rearing Centre.


2001 Queensland Winner - Dianne Gresham

Web Ahead

Di Gresham is a dairy farmer, who in partnership with her husband and family operates a 400 cow dairy farm, outside Gympie, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. At the time of the Award she was also very active within the industry off farm, and was Queensland Dairy Farmers Wide Bay Burnett branch Vice-Chair and the Subtropical Dairy Group Regional Vice-Chair and a member of the Queensland Rural Women’s Network BridgIT Project Management Committee and Australian Women in Agriculture National Conference Organising Committee.

Di’s vision was for a producer targeted dairy specific website that catered to the needs of dairy farmers, providing a complete source of extension and research content, coupled with a regularly changing user interface.

The Internet, Di believed, would markedly enhance the operation of rural businesses, through access to information and products that otherwise may have been non-existent or difficult to obtain and while the number of websites catering to agriculture and to the dairy industry had increased markedly, she believed farmers were left somewhat daunted at the volume of information, with many sites often lacking in regular content updates, consistency of content, ease of usability and poor maintenance. The major objectives of her proposed activity included:

  • To complete web program technical skills training.
  • To partner the development of a targeted Internet gateway for the dairy industry.
  • To develop relationships and networks with industry groups to impart IT skills and knowledge, to help producers conduct their businesses and to help rural organisations’ and communities conduct their affairs.

Di’s technical skills training was done through Spherion Corporate Education and involved 20 days training, attended at the company’s Brisbane office. The training undertaken involved:

  • Dreamweaver, Project Management and Photoshop to complement the Internet and design modules. 
  • Internet, Web Page Authoring and Networking Fundamentals for networking concepts and practices.
  • Site Design Methodology and Technology focused on the website development process and included creation tools and design technologies, plug-ins and multimedia.
  • E-commerce Strategies and Practices taught the basics of conducting business online and overcoming the technological issues of constructing a electronic commerce site. 

At the conclusion of 2001 Di, with the support of the northern dairy region’s research organisation, Subtropical Dairy, began conceptual work on a website called The site was designed as a user friendly interface that incorporated a number of features including news and industry issues, downloadable decision making tools to use within a farming business, an industry events calendar and database and an extensive digital technical information library that was partnered with a powerful search engine capable of drilling for specific information within the entire database. 

Di has also become heavily involved in providing technical and content support to a number of rural community groups. She was Chair of the Queensland Rural Women’s Network Technical Working Party, where she rebuilt the Network’s website. She also sat on the Network’s BridgIT project, an email and Internet training project and is also redeveloping the BridgIT website. She has also provided Internet advice to Australian Women in Agriculture.

At a personal level, the Award provided Di with the opportunity to develop her technical skills, which along side her expertise in content management, has made her a valuable asset in providing a farmer’s perspective and hands on support in the development and maintenance of numerous rural websites nationally.


2001 South Australia Winner - Jeanette Gellard

Harvest Your Potential-Careers in Agriculture

Jeanette is from Kangaroo Island and has been involved in promotion and development of agriculture and natural resource management.  Previous positions held by Jeanette include Board Member of Agriculture Kangaroo Island and Chair of the 2000 SA Women on Farms Gathering Organising Committee. 

Jeanette’s vision was to raise awareness amongst young people of the employment and business opportunities available in the agricultural sector and to raise the profile of agriculture in the wider community.  She believes there is little promotion of the sophistication and technical innovation of agricultural industries, and little appreciation of the variety and depth of career choices available within the agricultural sector.

Her proposed activity involved three stages. The first was a desktop study of the information currently available relating to careers in agriculture, through extensive research and networking with relevant organisations and groups.

The second stage was the design and development of a web page and resource kit that provided comprehensive information relating to job opportunities, including potential employers and education and training pathways.

The final stage involved the distribution and promotion of the resource kit and web page to the target audience.  The result has been the development of a webpage ‘portal’ - which predominantly contains links to external sites that contain an immense diversity and depth of information. 

Over 70 different occupations from eight career streams were identified and researched for inclusion on the web page and linked to external sites that provide comprehensive information covering the job. The career streams ranged from finance and economics, to education and training, to management and marketing, to legal and political, and media and information technology.  The resource kits which included fact sheets, business cards and stickers, were distributed to a variety of target groups including rural and urban schools, tertiary institutions and training organisations, industry groups and associations and government agencies. 

Jeanette’s ambition was to bring attention to not only jobs available in agriculture, but also the ways in which many ‘non traditional’ career paths are intrinsically linked to agriculture and successful rural enterprises.  The project raised awareness amongst the target audience of the diversity of careers agriculture offers, and generated significant support from a range of sources, including educational and training organisations, government agencies and industry groups. 

At a personal and professional level, Jeanette developed new found web page design and internet research skills and developed and extended her industry networks.


2001 Western Australian Winner - Rhonda Tonkin

Developing Value Added Wildflower Products Nationally & Internationally

Rhonda is one of the leading wildflower growers and exporters nationally, with close to three decades experience in the industry.  She is the only person in the Western Australian industry to have vertically integrated her business on a large commercial scale, from production to wholesaling, retailing, value -adding and exporting. Her business produces and markets some 400 species of flora, which she wholesales to every state in Australia and overseas. Her value-added products are exported to Holland, Germany, Italy and USA along with Japan, China and Israel. 

Rhonda’s vision was to enhance the wildflower industry’s sustainable production through better value-adding and growing exports, while at the same time dramatically increasing opportunities for rural women and for regional tourism.  The main objective of her proposed activity was to strengthen the dried flower section of the industry through improved value-adding of the product range. While exports of fresh flowers continue to increase, the dried flower market, which represents 20% of the total industry internationally, has remained static.

Rhonda’s proposed activity involved a major promotional and networking tour of the major value-adding markets, including Italy, Germany, Holland and USA and to report back her findings to industry. Prior to the tour she forwarded samples of value-added products from nine existing companies and a further 30 of her own designs. Products included wildflowers under resin, framed flower pictures, wildflower stationary, cards and perfume, gum nut and flower jewellery and handcrafts and wildflowers books and publications. 

Rhonda met with seven leading importers who had expressed an interest in ‘value-added’ Australian product, including Florient in Italy, which owns and operates a number of small outlets through the country, Schleef in Germany, where meetings with principal Claus Weiman with 30 years experience in flowers and giftware, proved extremely valuable and the American company Universal Sunray, which catalogues and sells throughout the world. 

The most obvious result of her trip was a commitment from Universal Sunray to feature in their catalogue and to sell larger numbers of Australian value-added wildflower products, volumes which will first be reached through Australian sales and then on to America. However the knowledge gained and networks forged from the tour have also been extremely valuable in understanding the demands and constraints of the market. 

Tourist numbers increased through Rhonda’s own farm and the region’s other flower tourist venues, more staff are being trained to extend the range of floral designs and a five year plan to build and market the product has now been drawn up. The other four exporters are following a similar path and value-added product is now recognised as an integral part of the wildflower industry.

Rhonda firmly believes that while the Australian industry is disadvantaged by its distance from markets, it has a unique product in its wildflowers that can be promoted through tourism worldwide.


2001 Tasmania Winner - Frances Bender

Study of Market Conditions, Buyer Behaviour and Demand Factors in the Japanese Market for Fresh and Processed Atlantic Salmon

Frances and her husband Peter own and operate Huon Aquaculture Company Pty Ltd. At the time of the Awardy HAC was the second largest producer of Atlantic salmon in Australia, employing 76 people and generating gross annual sales of $22 million. 

Frances played an integral role in the development of Huon Aquaculture and was Director of Administration, Occupational Health and Safety and Human Resources Manager. Her vision was to see aquaculture, particularly in Tasmania, continue to prosper and expand as a source of sustainable future employment for rural communities. 

Frances’ proposed activity was to study first-hand the markets for salmon product into Japan and to articulate their customer needs, including product, packaging and presentation specifications. An early maturing of the domestic market, combined with HAC’s reliance on the wholesale sector of the market and limited marketing experience, led Frances to investigate exporting.

The fact that Tasmanian exports commanded a premium of up to 30% in the Japanese market, made Japan the obvious first choice in export markets for HAC to pursue a more direct relationship.  The major objective of the study tour was to facilitate Huon Aquaculture Company’s transition into exports, through a better understanding of the Japanese market, and as a result improve the viability of the HAC and employment and training opportunities for its staff.

The study tour included attending the Foodex Trade Show and visitations to a number of potential customers and importers of seafood including Global Eight, Daitio Gyorui and AIC, along with a tour of the Tsukiji fish markets, a Ginzi salmon deli and numerous department stores including the Takashimaya store. 

Frances received such a good reception for her first visit to Japan that HAC has proceeded in developing their own brand-Huon Tasmanian Salmon-specifically for the Japanese market and began exporting product into Japan, with Tassal Japan as a distribution channel. 

At a more personal level, Frances understanding of the Japanese market and its requirements has dramatically increased, knowledge that she has been able to translate to HAC management and staff. That understanding has enabled HAC to devise market entry strategies for their brand, in particular in the export market and into Japan.  Frances saw the study tour as a strategic first step in developing direct relationships with a customer base in Japan and a strategic first step to HAC’s expansion into export, that in turn, would expand the training and employment opportunities HAC can offer within their community.


2001 Northern Territory Winner - Carmel Wagstaff

The Northern Australian Pastoral Industry- A Great Career Opportunity

Carmel, prior to her transfer to Brisbane in 2001, lived and worked on cattle stations in the Barkley Tablelands of Northern Territory for some 27 years.  She is founder and co-ordinator of the nationally accredited Australian Agricultural Company Training Program, one of the country’s largest and most successful competency based, on-station training programs.  The program provides on-station training and assessment to over 60 young men and women each year and has been accredited for significantly improving the staff retention rate at AACo, while dramatically improving the image of the pastoral industry and its employment opportunities. 

Carmel’s vision for agriculture was to lift the image of the rural worker and to promote the professionalism of Australia’s agricultural industries, particularly the Northern Territory beef cattle industry.  She is deeply concerned about the negative image given to Australian agriculture, which she believes has contributed, to what has become, a flood of young people away from a career in rural Australia.  Her proposed activity involved three succinct stages.

Stage One involved Carmel further developing her own leadership, human resource and organisational skills. She successfully completed a Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management through the Northern Territory University. 

Stage Two involved investigation into the issue of rural employment and retention rates in the Northern Australian pastoral industry, before brainstorming the issue with a group of relevant and informed persons. 19 people representing employers, trainers and recruiters of young people in Northern Australia, convened for a two day workshop in Darwin in July 2000. 

Brainstorming focused on issues extending from current methods the industry uses to attract the services of new staff and reasons people leave their employment, to the personal and professional development of staff, and the issues of lifestyle and geographical isolation.  The workshop culminated in the formation of NARC, the Northern Australian Rural Careers Network, with its aim of providing a network to promote the implementation of professional business strategies, that address the issues of attracting, developing and retaining staff in the extensive pastoral industry.  The workshop also developed media material called ‘The Message’, a document highlighting the positives, including the financial benefits of working in the Northern Australian beef cattle industry. 

Other initiatives included the organization of a study tour for industry middle management. The first tour took place in March 2001 and proved so successful that a second tour was planned.  A second forum was held in September 2001, which focused on reviewing NARC’s progress to date and setting the direction and targets for the 12 months ahead.

Stage Three involved the development of materials to promote the industry as a preferred and professional career choice.

Carmel’s vision saw the beginnings of what a group of committed and like-minded people can achieve. It was intended that NARC continued to evolve into a credible lobby group, that developed sound strategies to address the serious skill shortage currently facing the Northern Australian beef cattle industry.

At a personal level, the Award gave Carmel a platform on which to build her knowledge and skills and in turn further develop her capacity to drive the direction of NARC and to continue to passionately promote the professionalism and unique career opportunities within the pastoral industry.



2000 New South Wales Winner – Diana Gibbs

The Riverina Project-Wool Producers Marketing Wool to the Consumer

Diana Gibbs is a wool producer and cofounder and director of Riverina Wool Growers. RWG was established in 1994 for the purpose of expanding and deepening wool producers activities to include sourcing wool, wool yarns and woollen products to its own design and specifications and directly marketing the final apparel products. 

Diana’s vision was for Australian wool producers to take more responsibility and control of their product by becoming more closely linked to their markets. 

The objectives of her overall project were for a group of wool producers, RWG, to form a commercial operation that would:

  • Develop, produce and market a collection of high quality, branded woolen garments. 
  • Deliver these garments to a carefully defined market via a multi-channel approach.
  • Create significant sales revenue and sufficient profits to provide a consistent commercial return for all partners. 

The project in doing so would also:

  • Create a successful joint venture partnership between RWG and representatives of the Wiradjuri people.
  • Create a world class wool textile supply chain. 
  • Support education and training opportunities for the Wiradjuri people. 

Her proposed activity represented the first critical step in the total project, that being to prepare a Business Plan to define and describe the wool marketing venture. The bursary was used to finance the Business Plan and also contributed to some preliminary promotional material, including media information kits presented at the Olympic Games in September 2000 and information produced for marketing investigations into the UK in October 2000.

The Business Plan was prepared in late 2000/early 2001 and was reviewed by independent consultants to ensure its objectivity and rigor. The Business Plan addressed key components of the project, including business background, vision, products, the market and marketing plan, business operations, ownership and management, risk factors along with financial considerations. A careful investigation of the demographics of the potential market available in the UK was undertaken to define the project’s target consumers and total available market.

The product is a collaborative effort between RWG and the Wiradjuri people, who provided some ideas as to elements of their culture that could be used as design themes, with one of the Elders painting an interpretation of these themes onto fabric, which was then provided to designers in the UK for incorporation into garments. 

RWG is in the process of seeking an agreement to form a joint venture with the Council of Elders representing the Wiradjuri, which will enable indigenous themes to be incorporated in the design of knitwear apparel.

RWG will now put in place a management team with expertise in European and Australian markets, to manage the design, manufacturing, distribution and marketing of high quality women’s apparel.

Diana’s knowledge of the project and its market has grown enormously as a result of this Award, as has her negotiating and marketing skills, along with her contacts and networks within the international wool and fashion industry.

The Business Plan confirmed the merit and real potential of this total project, which once completed has the ability to resolve major wool textile supply chain issues. The supply chain will, not only, be much shorter and therefore more time responsive, but will provide strong market signals from designers and manufacturers direct back to producers. For wool producers, the project will provide for a landmark change in culture, allowing them to take responsibility of their product throughout the supply chain, and allow them to not just sell a commodity, but to market a product.

This project has provided a unique insight into issues facing wool producers and into the potential for commercial joint ventures with indigenous Australians. Many lessons have been learnt, as two groups aim to achieve something that neither could do separately. There are perhaps also some lessons in this project for the reconciliation process.


2000 Victoria Winner – Rowena Doyle

The Development and Implementation of an Accredited Mohair Classing Course

Rowena Doyle owns and operates, in family partnership, the largest mohair enterprise in Victoria and has been at the forefront of developing the industry and its markets, including domestic markets for goat meat and value added craft markets for the skins.

Rowena’s vision for her industry was one where best practice is followed by all producers and where producers retrieve a fair share of the end price of their product. 

The major objectives of her proposed activity were to: 

  • Improve mohair producers’ classing standards by developing an accredited mohair-classing course, which involved flexible delivery and practical training with broker participation. 
  • Improve her own skills in fibre production and to impart those skills to prospective and existing producers through mohair classing courses.
  • Encourage further education in areas of goat production and create an opportunity for greater producer networking. 

The Australian mohair industry has achieved the status of best quality mohair in the world, second to neither Texas or South Africa and has achieved this status in only 30 years of selective breeding. 

In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the majority of mohair was forwarded to brokers unskirted and unclassed, while in the 1980’s and 1990’s the introduction of imported genetics saw an increase in the number of classing lines. While Australian fibre has improved to such an extent that poorer kempy lines are virtually non existent, producer classing techniques have not kept pace, with brokers still receiving unclassed and unskirted fibre. As a result producers are being penalised with increases classing fees and more importantly failing to realise the potential returns for quality. 

The Australian mohair industry desperately needed a change in classing standards and to be adopted uniformly throughout the industry from producers to brokers.

The major task involved the development of a hands on training course for mohair classing based on the National Goat Industry Competencies, with input from numerous sources, including wool industry training packages, Mohair Australia classing standards, mohair broker classing standards, the Pastoral Industry Award, goat husbandry resources along with several RIRDC publications. 

The course notes were finalised following extensive industry evaluation and a training package developed, comprising of three major competencies. 

  1. Preparing for Shearing- included crutching animals, the benefits of sorting animals prior to shearing, penning goats safely prior to shearing to prevent smothering and to avoid wet fibre, arranging animal feed for shearing and conditions for employing shearers and shed hands. 
  2. Preparing Facilities for Shearing and Crutching- covered sources of contamination, inspecting shed and yards for sources of contamination and safety hazards, inspecting equipment to ensure smooth running operation, ensuring availability of supplies required during shearing time and providing shelter for shorn animals. 
  3. Classing Goat Fibre- included the properties of quality mohair, fault line in mohair, selling methods of mohair, Australian mohair classing standards, efficient fibre flow through the shearing shed, skirting and classing mohair fibre and baling and labeling fibre for consignment to brokers. 

Two courses were advertised. The first at Longerenong Agricultural College through the University of Ballarat and the second at Dookie Agricultural College through the University of Melbourne. 28 mohair producers attended the courses with participants required to complete a worksheet on each of the three competencies while carrying out practical activities. The weekends proved an invaluable networking opportunity for producers involved.

Following the initial two courses, interest has now been shown in conducting the courses in both South Australia and Western Australia. The package is currently before the  National Board of Mohair Australia to be adopted for use throughout the industry. One industry accredited training program will be a major breakthrough for the industry in ensuring education in fibre preparation is consistent throughout the country.

At a personal level, Rowena has achieved her ambition of improved knowledge and skills in fibre production and presentation, along with improved networking, public speaking  and marketing skills, that will prove invaluable not only to herself but to her industry for many years to come.


2000 Queensland winner – Annie Pfeffer

Our Future - Promotion of Monounsaturated Sunflower Oil

Annie Pfeffer operates in family partnership a mixed cropping enterprise and established ‘Olisun’, a family business that value adds sunflowers to produce and market pressed monounsaturated sunflower oil. 

Annie’s vision was to improve the prospects for the Australian sunflower industry and its growers, while improving the health of Australians, by encouraging the substitution, in the food retail sector, of imported, cheaper, saturated palm oil with domestic monounsaturated sunflower oil.

While canola and olive oils have been recognised by the general public as healthy oils, resulting in increased supermarket demand and purchases, the message has not been translated to the food service industry where up to 90,000 tonnes of cheaper saturated palm oil are imported each year.

At the same time production of Australian sunflower has fallen dramatically, from 300,000 to 120,000 tonnes over the past decade (prior to 2000), as a result of competition from canola domestically and imported palm oil. 

This situation comes against some stark statistics, where one person dies every 10 minutes in Australia from cardiovascular disease due to high blood cholesterol, with high levels of saturated fats a major contributor. 

Her proposed activity entailed three major objectives:

  • To grow the Australian sunflower industry and in particular supply and demand of monounsaturated sunflower oil. (by 50% in first year)
  • To improve the health of our nation, by increasing the number of outlets that use monounsaturated sunflower oil. (by 50% in first year)
  • Encourage other grower to get further involved within the industry and in the promotion of their product. 

The project involved undertaking a major education and promotional effort at both the industry and the consumer level, thereby galvanising the industry and its growers to increase the awareness amongst consumers. 

Major activities included numerous Award public speaking events, Ag Ed at Toowoomba Show, Farmfest, the National Press Club, Brisbane’s Farmers Markets and numerous presentations to industry leaders and executive of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries. 

A major breakthrough for her project came with the opportunity to present the Australian Sunflower Association’s vision for the future to the Biennial Conference in Yeppoon in June 2001. The Grains Research and Development Corporation, as a result has asked that the ASA to put forward a strategic plan as the basis for a package of research funding for the total industry. The strategic plan is to be presented to GRDC later this year.

The Australian sunflower industry now has a decidedly more positive focus and is regenerating itself.

Its representative body, the Australian Sunflower Association is working proactively in partnership with other Australian oil producer groups, through the Australian Oilseed Federation, to focus on their collective strengths in accessing markets and countering imports.

And at a personal level, Annie acquired new skills in media, marketing and public speaking, along with report writing, and has used those skills to encourage more people to become involved in their industry and the promotion of their product. The groundwork for the first state-wide women in grains reference group was established as a result of Annie’s efforts.


2000 South Australia Winner – Carol Schofield

 Expansion of the Freshwater Crayfish Industry in South Australia

At the Time of the Award, Carol Schofield had been involved in aquaculture and in particular the freshwater crayfish industry in South Australia for 12 years.  She established, during this time, the ‘Fresh Yabbie Company’, which has evolved into a central networking point for producers and a central marketing effort for the South Australian industry. 

Carol’s vision was to see the freshwater crayfish industry, for both yabbie and marron, expand to reach its fullest potential. 

The industry has over the past decade undergone several stages of development and major change which has hampered industry and some growers’ efforts to progress and expand.

Her proposed activity translated into six broad objectives: 

  • To increase the production of yabbies and marron to meet the increasing demand in the market place at a state, national and international level.
  • To increase employment through diversification and utilisation of existing infrastructure on farms. 
  • To design, develop and deliver training programs that can be easily accessed by the rural sector in order to raise awareness, increase knowledge, develop skills and motivate the farming community. 
  • To establish a research and development program to examine innovative ways of processing waste from value added yabbie and marron products. 
  • To establish industry standards and a quality assurance program for every level of the production/processing chain.
  • To research innovative ways of presenting value added yabbie products to meet market demand. 


The project took two major directions:

  • The development of workshop modules designed to raise awareness amongst the farming community in SA of the potential of freshwater crayfish production in farm dams as an important alternate income source.
  • The workshops formed a central part of a strategic industry plan that would see the eventual establishment of a network of freshwater crayfish centres, one in each region, run by a coordinator who will be responsible for delivering workshops and setting up mentoring and support at a local level. 

Presentation of the first two workshops were scheduled for the Clare Valley and the Fleurieu Peninsula in late 2000, with a third workshop also planned for Kangaroo Island in late 2001.

The introductory workshops were to be followed up with one intermediate and two advanced skill level workshops over an 18-month period. 

The second tier was an intensive research effort into waste management, which represents approximately 80% of the total product. Research extended from grinding, dehydrating and pickling the whole and portioned product for both human and animal consumption both domestically and overseas. 

At a personal level, Carol’s knowledge of the industry, its markets and value adding opportunities improved markedly. Highlights included attending the 2001 International Symposium on Astacology in Perth, where she gained valuable data on the latest developments in freshwater crayfish farming, information that will be incorporated into training modules. 

Her project resulted in increased awareness of the freshwater crayfish industry and its potential, the first hurdle to raising supply sufficient to meet demand.


2000 Western Australia Winner – Mary Nenke

A Marketing and Study Tour of the U.S.A. for the Benefit of the Yabby Industry and its Growers in Western Australia.

Mary Nenke is founder and principal of Cambinata Yabbies and is intrinsically involved in all aspects of the Yabby Industry in Western Australia, from production to post harvest handling to marketing and exporting.  

Cambinata Yabbies started off as a small family concern but evolved into a sophisticated and integrated business, marketing yabbies on behalf of a large groups of growers across the WA wheatbelt. 

Mary’s vision was to make rural Australia a great place to live, while offering rural women financial independence through the pursuit of new business ventures and alternate farm enterprises. 

Her proposed activity consisted of two broad objectives, incorporating a major study and fact finding tour of the United States: 

  • To improve yabby production in Western Australia through investigation of current technology and best practice and value adding opportunities employed in the US.
  • To further expand markets for WA yabbies through promotion and marketing in the US.

The crawfish industry in the United States produces the highest volume of freshwater crayfish in the world. This is in stark contrast to the Australian yabby industry, where very poor production ratios are severely hampering its potential for growth. Their catfish industry has also been very successful in value adding and in vertical integration. The United States is also the world’s major consumer of food and aquaculture and an obvious target market for any increased production. 

The study tour of the United States took place in March 2001. The tour included participating as part of the Western Australian Fisheries Department Industry Promotion at the Annual Boston Seafood Show. The Boston Seafood Show also provided the opportunity to look at the various exhibits and examine how others, including the catfish industry market their product. The tour also included stopovers in San Francisco and New York where Mary met with distributors, clients and potential clients. The tour culminated in New Orleans and Houston where Mary was able to study first hand their crawfish industry from farm to processing factory to markets.

The study tour gave Mary a far greater understanding of the American market and their local product, as a result she is far more component at explaining first hand the advantages and disadvantages of the two products, yabbies and crawfish. 

The trip proved the Australian yabby and its handling to be by far the superior product and should be marketed accordingly. The tour also proved that there is potential for value adding yabbies.

In specific terms Mary brought back new ideas and technology, including larger feed pellets, traps for moving stock and a steamer for value adding product, that were to be trailed for possible transfer to the domestic industry in WA. 

More importantly Mary has developed new contacts and networks that will help not only expand existing markets but forge new ones for Cambinata Yabbies and its extensive network of growers.


2000 Tasmania Winner – Anne Taylor

Farm Safety, Manual Handling and Back Care

Anne Taylor a partner in a mixed farming enterprise, is also a practicing physiotherapist.

Anne’s vision was to create a safe work environment for all who work in agricultural industries.

She was amazed at the lack of knowledge shown by farmers on manual handling and backcare, injury prevention and first aid, and yet when 50% of all workers compensation claims are the result of manual handling incidents, there were no easily accessible and practical farm safety education and training programs available for all members of the farming family and the farm workforce.

The major objective of her proposed activity was to ensure all who work in primary industries access to affordable and best practice training in manual handling, backcare and manutention, farm safety, practical first aid awareness, accident and injury prevention.

The project involved the development of a company called ‘WiseWork’ that would become the vehicle to delivering training to the farming population. Training packages were developed, equipment purchased and manuals, handouts and posters created. 

Marketing was low key and provided predominantly through Award speaking engagements, newspaper articles and word of mouth. 

In order to be fully competent in delivering the training, Anne attended a number of courses, including Manutention Advanced “Industrial Loads’ course, Manual Handling for Carers of People, Train the Trainer, Train Small Groups and Plan, Conduct and Review Assessment, Return to Work on the Farm and Community Development Training. She is currently completing the Certificate IV in Assessment & Workplace Training and achieving accreditation as a Manutention trainer.

Anne delivered numerous training programs since winning the Award, including:

  • Five Farm Safety Courses with three presenters and three Farm Safety Courses with two presenters.
  • One three day pilot course ‘BackCare and Manual Handling’ for Agricultural Personnel.
  • One Injury Prevention Session at Beginners Shearer’s Training Course.
  • Several BackCare and Introductory Manual Handling courses to horticultural businesses, timber merchants and the Nursery Association Accreditation Scheme.

She also received a contract with a Poppy Processing Company to deliver farm safety training to their growers, contractors and field staff, statewide, with five courses conducted in 2001. 

At a personal level, Anne developed new skills in creating and implementing a business from planning to actual performance and has become proficient at writing reports and training manuals, public speaking and networking.

Anne’s project raised awareness within the Tasmanian farming community on the issues of farm safety and backcare and manual handling, while extending the training offered from a purely ‘farmer’ base to the nursery, timber, horticultural, poppy seed industries and associated communities.

Tab 3 Content Title

Previous Runner-Ups

Tab 3 Content



Vivien Thompson

2013 New South Wales runner-up - Vivien Thomson

Vivien’s Award ambition is to provide leadership tools for women who have demonstrated a level of leadership in the rural fire community area by building a skill set to manage risks and be better prepared to make leadership decisions.

Vivien has a passion for developing women’s involvement and leadership in rural industries. Since 1998 Vivien has been involved with Australian Women in Agriculture (AWiA), and is currently the organisation’s Vice President.

Vivien has also been a mentor for the National Rural Women’s Coalition E-Learning Project, which assisted women to achieve their goals within their own industry; is a member of the New South Wales Women in Ag organisation; has been a trainer, captain incident controller and mentor to women in the fire industry for over 25 years; was the first female in the Australian Capital Territory to qualify for an Australian Fire Service medal; and is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership program.

Vivien believes that women bring a unique resilience to disaster management, where often women play vital roles in the preparation and recovery of disaster events both in the home and the community. However, women are still under represented in decision-making processes and leadership structures in disaster management enterprises.

Vivien’s Award ambition is to provide a leadership toolbox for women in rural fire community areas to build skills in leadership and risk management. Vivien hopes that this toolbox will provide women with the capabilities to become leaders in their communities and empower other women.


Jo Clifford

2013 Victoria runner-up - Joanne Clifford 

Joanne’s Award ambition is to develop a working model for collaborative farm practice ‘Alexander’s Farm Gate & Shared Table’, in order to improve the prosperity of farmers through sharing resources such as land, equipment, workspace, labour, skills and knowledge.

Joanne is a primary producer and grows wine grapes, beef cattle, lambs and fine wool merinos with her husband in Faraday, Central Victoria.

Joanne is passionate about food, the people who grow it and raising the awareness of the importance of primary industries in her region. Joanne is a founding member of the Australian Food Hubs Network, has developed education and community programs around food production, and in 2012 initiated, created and delivered the ‘Growing Our Local Food Economy’ forum which addressed the future of food and primary production in the Mount Alexander Shire.

As a community connector, Joanne is also actively involved in her local community as part of the Sutton Grange Landcare Group; Mount Alexander Sustainability Group; Connecting Country and Growing Abundance Program; and is fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs.

Joanne’s Award ambition is to see Australian agriculture become a culture of celebrating and sharing food, the land and prosperity through the creation of open gate, on-farm communities working, learning, growing and eating together. Her model for change ‘Alexander’s Farm Gate & Shared Table’, aims to contribute to this vision and to help develop this food culture. At the heart of this model is personal prosperity and sustainability for farmers, which is attainable through the sharing of farm resources such as the land, equipment, workspace, labour, skills and knowledge.


Terressa Ford

2013 Queensland runner-up - Terressa Ford 

Terressa’s Award ambition is to host a series of workshops to up skill rural women and their families in finance, technology, mental health and wellbeing to help them make business decisions with confidence.

Terressa is an active member of the north-west Queensland beef community. Originally from a cane farm near Bundaberg and following a teaching career which led her to Mareeba and Brisbane, Terressa moved to Hughenden after meeting her husband.

Since this time Terressa has been strongly involved in her community, starting as a Country Matron supporting many local community groups. In 2004 she became secretary for the local Agforce branch and became a founding member of the Flinders Beef Challenge, which aims to provide an avenue for producers to learn about the production capabilities of their cattle. This event also provides social support for producers, where both men and women are encouraged to participate.

Through her community work, Terressa has identified a need to up skill rural women, to help them stay abreast of important issues and assist them to make business decisions with confidence.

Terressa’s Award ambition is to host a series of three workshops over six months to up skill rural women and their families in finance, technology, mental health and wellbeing. She hopes to establish an ongoing network that provides a social outlet to assist with maintaining good mental health. Participants can be women from primary industries, local small business owners and interested women from other western and gulf communities. 


Mardi Longbottom

2013 South Australia runner-up - Mardi Longbottom

Mardi’s Award ambition is to show the diversity of roles available in the grape and wine sector with the aim of facilitating discussion about careers within this sector.

Mardi is a grape grower, viticulturist and viticultural consultant with 21 years experience in vineyard management, technical viticulture, viticulture research and education.

Mardi has worked across Australia, including the Limestone Coast, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and the Barossa wine region. With a passion for sustainability for the Australian wine Industry Mardi volunteers her time to provide content and feedback to the Winemaker’s Federation of Australia and Freshcare Ltd; has trained and supported more than 400 grape growers to achieve environmental certification; and works at the Australian Wine Research Institute to support grape growers in their pursuit of sustainable and profitable wine businesses.

She has also been an active member of regional technical groups; holds an honorary role as Visiting Research Fellow and voluntary viticulture lecturer at the University of Adelaide; and has a professional membership with the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology. 

In these roles Mardi has been both mentor and mentee to many women working in the wine industry, but often found that women’s work was at a lower level and usually used to supplement family income. 

Mardi’s Award ambition is to show the diversity of roles available in the grape and wine sector with the aim of facilitating discussion about careers within this sector. Borne during her time as a lecturer in viticulture, Mardi noticed that the number of students entering Viticulture degrees were traditionally low, and even lower for women.

Mardi plans to develop a video, ‘a day in the lives’, to showcase positive female role models who are actively engaged in primary industries, and promote viticulture as a diverse and exciting career path way to high school students. This will be followed by a discussion about careers in the grape and wine sector.


Leilani Leyland

2013 Western Australia runner-up - Leilani Leyland

Leilani’s Award ambition is to support the Honey Week event to promote the importance of bees, honey and the bee industry to the general public.

Leilani has 28 years of experience in the beekeeping industry with a passion to educate the public about bees, honey and the industry at large.

Leilani has been involved with various education programs, at both primary and high school levels to educate students and teachers on the importance of the industry and to display the work involved in producing honey. She also conducts demonstrations and talks at her property and promotes honey at various regional shows, including Dowerin Field day.

In addition to Leilani’s educational commitments, she is activity involved in a number of Beekeeping committees including Secretary and Treasurer of the Pollination Association of Western Australia; Secretary and Committee member of the Agricultural Producers Beekeepers Committee; Committee member of the Western Australian Farmers Beekeepers; and Secretary and Treasurer of the Jarrah Honey Promotions Committee which promotes the healing qualities of honey.

Whilst beekeeping plays a vital role in the pollination of fruits and vegetables and is a valuable and sustainable industry, beekeepers are constantly excluded from native forests through burning, designated national parks and urban development. 

Honey Week was a concept put forward by Super Bee Honey Factory New South Wales to facilitate the promotion of the Australian honey industry with the idea to educate the Australian public at a national level on the importance of Australian beekeeping, bees honey and food diversity in Australia.

Leilani’s Award ambition is to continue to develop and promote Honey Week in the media in the form of advertising and exhibitor expenses in order to educate consumers about the values of Australian honeys and the industry at large.


Georgie Bond

2013 Tasmania runner-up - Georgie Bond

Georgie’s Award ambition is to build upon existing international relations and develop new markets for Tasmanian Lamb.

Georgie is a third generation farmer and manages her family owned lamb Feedlot in the Northern Midlands of Tasmania.

After attending the University of Tasmania and completing a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours, Georgie worked for Australia Meat Holdings for several years to build her skills in Feedlot Management. In 2011 Georgie returned to her family farm with the aim of increasing the property’s feedlot facilities. Through her management, the farm now has grain fed lamb accreditation from the Livestock Production Accreditation Scheme, being only the seventh feedlot in Australia to do so.

Georgie is currently managing international, particularly Japanese and large supermarket clients by providing consistently high quality produce produced on a marketable scale. She has also been involved in the Sheep Cooperative Research Centre Bred Fed Well program; has hosted numerous feedlot tours to local and international farming groups; and organises monthly networking meetings with university and local farming groups.

Georgie’s ambition is to build upon existing international relations and develop new markets for Tasmanian Lamb. She aims for Tasmanian lamb to be a product of choice for overseas customers, particularly in the face of the difficulty in accessing export markets. Georgie plans to travel to Japan and Dubai to conduct lamb market research.

Georgie also hopes to be a role model to demonstrate what is achievable for women in agriculture. She believes that there is no longer an imaginary line in the sand of where women fit into agriculture. Today women can be successful in any area they wish to be.


There was no runner-up for the Northern Territory


Sally Martin

2011 New South Wales Runner-up – Sally Martin

Knowledge broker

At the time of the Award, Sally Martin from Young, New South Wales, had been the Sheep and Wool Officer with Industry and Investment NSW for the previous 12 years. 

She grew up on a grazing property on the Monaro where she continued to be involved in the family farm operation.

Sally provided advice and support to individual sheep producers, grower groups and trial sites on genetics, animal health, reproduction and general production issues. She played an integral role in the Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge, the largest evaluation of commercial merino genetics in the world, which included some of Australia’s largest commercial woolgrowers.

She was concerned at the declining sheep population—the result of a significant change in the flock structure.  She believed the shift away from wool to a meat focus and from the Merino sheep ias fed by misconceptions that Merino sheep are not capable of competing against other breeds for traits such as fertility and meat quality, despite research and commercial trails demonstrating the contrary.

Her ambition was to ensure that existing genetic information is made more accessible and relevant to businesses to ensure a more profitable and resilient sheep industry.

Jennifer Savage

2011 Victorian Runner-up – Jennifer Savage

Fish farming pioneer

Jennifer Savage from St. Germains, Victoria, is a pioneer of fish farming in Australia. In 2004 she established the first aquaculture business specialising in barramundi production, Savage Fish Pty Ltd in central north Victoria.

Jennifer is well qualified with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Fisheries and a Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate and Masters in Aquaculture. She worked at the Department of Primary Industries – Snobs Creek, as a research technician working across a variety of native fish species for a number of years before setting up her own business.

Savage Fish aimed to provide premium quality barramundi and murray cod, to be an Australian leader in the breeding and rearing of native finfish, and to supply environmentally sustainable fish to meet the growing demand for clean fresh food.

Jennifer has authored numerous papers and delivered many lectures on fish farming, and has supported a number of new aquaculture ventures, both within Australia and overseas, including a model to support a network of dairy farmers diversifying into aquaculture.  She is personally committed to supporting the re-establishment of the Victorian Aquaculture Council as an effective and united voice for industry to government.

Jennifer believes that fish farming offers a lucrative second income stream for farmers and a real solution to the increasing shortage of supply of wild catch.

She planned to set up a training program for aquaculture specific to Australian native species to be delivered in regional Victoria.

Jennifer believes the Australian industry needs an effective brand to compete against imports and to counter negative perceptions of farmed fish, and hopes to work with the beef and lamb industry to learn from their highly successful media campaigns.

Erin Corish

2011 Queensland Runner-up – Erin Corish

Lamb industry innovator

At the time of the Award, Erin Corish from Goondiwindi, Queensland, was General Manager of a 15,000 head prime lamb feedlot outside Goondiwindi and co-owner of a rural publication called ‘Border Living Magazine’.

She was heavily involved in her local industry and community and was a member of Young Farmers Forum, Women’s Industry Network – Cotton and Border Women in Business.

Erin is committed to the lamb industry and to finding solutions to the shortage of supply of prime lambs through better genetics and improved management practices that will help build and retain breeding numbers.

Her ambition was to investigate intensive breeding programs in an effort to increase production and minimise over-grazing. She planned to travel to South Africa to investigate the ‘Afrino’ sheep breed –  a breed of meat Merino – and to test the breed’s performance against Australian conditions by introducing it into her own prime lamb herd.

Erin launched a social media site for her rural community as an extension of the Boarder Living Magazine to keep her community connected and to promote to the broader audience the diversity of rural businesses and the positive benefits of rural life.

Rebecca Williams

2011 South Australian Runner-up – Rebecca Williams

Rural development consultant

At the time of the Award, Rebecca Williams, from Koolunga, South Australia, was the Administration Officer with the Future Farmers Network which was the only national network for young people involved in the rural sector.

Rebecca and her family run a mixed farming operation comprised of broad acre cropping, breeding ewes, prime lamb and alpacas. She also worked as a rural development consultant and was a member of the Clare Valley Young Professionals and the Hilltown Ag Girls Group.

She worked as a rural development consultant and developed a business plan that would provide a support network to the rural sector, allowing rural businesses to access a range of support services, such as education and training, financial support and strategic planning.

Rebecca is passionate about living in a rural community and equally passionate about her career. She believes the single greatest barrier to career progression for rural people is not being exposed to the many employment opportunities that are available in the capital cities and regional centres. 

Her ambition was to develop a ‘Satellite Careers Advancement Program’ to assist other rural women living in regional areas to advance their own careers through personal and professional development and by promoting the concept of satellite employees. She believed that were many positions within primary industries that could be filled remotely and that employers were becoming more comfortable with the concept of employees working outside the conventional workplace.

Cathy Howard

2011 Western Australian Runner-up – Cathy Howard

Small wine producer advocate

At the time of the Award, Cathy Howard from Busselton, Western Australia, had been actively involved in the wine industry for the previous 15 years as a winemaker and wine industry consultant.

For the previous ten years she lived and worked in the Margaret River region where she and her husband launched their own wine brand ‘Whicher Ridge’ in 2008 and opened their winery in 2009. They have full control over the production of all five Whicher Ridge wines.

Cathy is President of the Geographe Vignerons Association and was accepted into the 2010 Women in Wine Industry Leadership Program – ‘The Right Bunch’.

Cathy has been a member of the Margaret River Wine Industry Association Technical Committee, and before that the Chair of the Barossa Winemakers Technical Committee and participated in the Margaret River Wine Industry Leadership Program in 2008.

She believes that a vibrant and sustainable wine industry requires both small and large wine producers and growers. Small wine producers make up to 70 per cent of the total number of wine producers in Western Australia. But given the competitive environment and the prohibitive cost to small producers of marketing and promoting their product, she believes the industry risks losing its smaller producers and with it much of its innovation and diversity.

Her Award ambition was to support Western Australia’s small wine producers and to promote and market their product through the development of a small producers’ website, the organisation of regional based small producers events and an annual small wine producers’ Cellar Door Day in Perth.

Her aim was to increase the awareness amongst consumers, trade and media of Western Australia’s small wine producers, to ensure increased and sustainable wine sales for network members, and to provide a platform for the network members to have a stronger voice in wine industry matters.

Jan Hughes

2011 Tasmanian Runner-up – Jan Hughes

Agritourism promoter

Jan Hughes and her husband established a successful regional enterprise ‘Rhu Bru’ which utilises rhubarb farm waste product and converts it into a refreshing non-alcoholic drink. Jan Hughes is based in Scottsdale, which has the largest rhubarb farm in the southern hemisphere.

Jan has spent the majority of her life working in rural and isolated communities in Tasmania and Tanzania, before returning to Scottsdale, Tasmania, and becoming involved in regional agritourism.

Rhu Bru took out the Reserve Champion and Gold Medal Award at the Hobart Fine Food Fair. Rhubarb has become central to an increasing product range including jam, relish, syrups and vinegar.

Jan’s ambition was to encourage farmers to diversify into agribusiness ventures that would give tourists a real experience of where food comes from and boost tourism spend and employment opportunities in the region. She felt a recognised food trail would provide an important marketable focus for the region.

Her ambition was to travel to other parts of Australia, to learn from the experiences of other successful agritourism regions and to investigate the drivers and barriers to agritourism development.

Jan believed her region could capitalise on the Rhu Bru model and explore other ways of value adding other vegetable production waste products in the region. She saw the Award playing a critical role in assisting her to bring individuals and groups together to actively work towards the development of successful agritourism ventures in the region.



Lucinda Giblett

2012 Western Australian Runner-up – Lucinda Giblett

Lucinda’s Award ambition was to create a not-for-profit organisation, to be called Stellar Violets, to honour and share the wisdom of her rural women fore-mothers, to celebrate sustainable food and to help dissolve the urban-rural divide.

Lucinda Giblett is a third generation pome and stone fruit grower from Manjimup in the state’s south-west  Lucinda travelled the world extensively before returning home to lead the family farm, the Newton Brothers Orchards, recruitment and marketing programs and to establish a small organic orchard to compliment the farms more traditional operations. 

Lucinda is passionate about sustainable food and rural communities and committed to dissolving the urban - rural divide and the disconnect from the land.

As a community connector, she is actively involved in her local community, as an organiser of the Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival, a volunteer for the Southern Forests Regional Food Council and a volunteer committee member for Slow Food Southern Forests, which runs a monthly food education stall at the Manjimup Farmers’ Markets.

Lucinda sees Stellar Violet’s as a vehicle to promote sustainable food production, to  demonstrate sustainable land stewardship and encourage healthier environments and diverse cultural landscapes.

Stellar Violets would connect learners of all ages with passionate teachers, through workshops, courses and events, and with online resources, on simple sustainable ways to live, growing and making your own food and consuming only what you need.


Krysteen McElroy

2012 South Australian Runner-up – Krysteen McElroy

Krysteen’s Award ambition was to support Australian farmers to be climate ready by scoping out new high value irrigated crops to support their future productivity and sustainability.

Krysteen McElroy and her husband, Bradley, are progressive and climate change ready farmers. They have worked on the family’s mixed farming enterprise at Pathway in South Australia’s south-east since the mid 1980's.

The McElroy’s climate change strategy is to be the most efficient they can, by focusing on sustainability, producing a quality product and through continuous improvement, involving the adoption of new technologies and innovative marketing strategies.

Krysteen’s commitment to agriculture extends beyond the farm. She is Executive Officer for the Mackellar Farm Management Group, a regionally based producer network committed to innovative and sustainable farm management practices, and is one of 34 farmers involved in the Climate Champions program, committed to advancing climate change knowledge and supporting farmers in the wise use of resources.

She is also a graduate of the South Australian Rural Leadership Program.

Krysteen’s Award ambition was to support Australian farmers to be climate ready, by researching new high value and water efficient crops that will increase productivity and sustainability. She planned to meet with leading Australian and international irrigators and document their innovations and experiences, with the end product a simple practical guide on new cropping options and opportunities available to farmers.


Samantha McMahon

2012 Northern Territory Runner-up – Dr Samantha McMahon

Samantha’s Award ambition was to improve animal husbandry programs and services for remote indigenous communities throughout the Northern Territory.

Dr Samantha McMahon is an international leader in the field of veterinary practices in remote indigenous communities. She has operated veterinary practices in Katherine Nhulunbuy, Tennant Creek and Howard Springs since 1995. 

Samantha established Aboriginal Community Veterinary Services, a service dedicated to providing veterinary programs and education and consulting services to remote and indigenous communities through the Territory and Asia Pacific regions.

Samantha is actively involved in the leadership of her broader industry, as Executive Member and past President of the NT branch of the Australian Veterinary Association for over ten years, as Member and incoming President of the Australian Association of Cattle Veterinarians and as founding member of the Australian Veterinary Reserve, dedicated to participating in emergency animal disease outbreaks, both within Australia and internationally.

Samantha’s Award ambition is to undertake a study tour to specific communities within North America and Canada, who face similar issues of indigenous people, remote and harsh locations and inadequate animal management.

Samantha believes that in order to achieve better outcomes for the Territory she needs to gain some outside experience to improve the practices and services she provides.

She believes that one of the keys to achieving excellent animal welfare is to provide animal management and veterinary programs that are sustainable. She believes that the long term sustainability of these programs will not be based on government funding, but rather on making these programs valued and valuable to indigenous communities.


Gina Butler

2012 Tasmanian Runner-up – Gina Butler

Gina's Award ambition was to investigate the goat dairy industry and farm house cheese production in the United Kingdom, France and Italy, to grow the dairy goat industry as a new emerging industry in Tasmania.

Gina Butler is a leader in the Tasmanian goat cheese industry and the Principal of Yondover Goat Farmhouse Cheeses, having established the 380 head goat diary, cheese factory and farm gate cheese shop outside Tunnel in Tasmania’s north east in 2004.

Yondover Farmhouse Cheeses was recently recognised with a number of medals from the Melbourne Royal Show and the Hobart Fine Food Awards.

Gina also holds a senior leadership position within the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services.

With demand for goat milk in Tasmania outstripping supply and demand for goat cheese continuing to grow, Gina believes goat dairying is a viable alternative for other smaller farms within Tasmania and a viable new industry to redefine and reinvigorate the north east of Tasmania.

Gina’s Award ambition was to travel to the United Kingdom, France and Italy, to broaden her knowledge of the production of farmhouse cheeses and identify avenues for growth of the Tasmanian goat dairy industry. 


Michelle Deshong

2012 Queensland Runner-up – Michelle Deshong

Michelle’s Award ambition was to develop a model for community engagement for indigenous and rural women.

Michelle Deshong is facilitator and mediator with 20 years experience working in indigenous affairs and more recently in rural women’s leadership development. 

Michelle is a strong advocate for human rights and women’s rights and has just returned from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York.

She has contributed to the development of rural women’s leadership, as Chairperson of the local Midtha Goothilans Indigenous Women’s Group and as a facilitator to the National Rural Women’s Coalition and the Queensland Rural Women’s Network in recent years. Michelle is also a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program.

Michelle’s Award ambition was to develop a model for cross cultural dialogue and community engagement between indigenous and rural women, to support and build engagement in rural and regional areas.

She planned to travel to the United States, to meet with networks including the First Nations Institute and the Udall Foundation, to examine effective international working models for indigenous and rural engagement.

On return Michelle planned to host a two day symposium, bringing together stakeholders from across rural and indigenous communities, to share best practice examples and discuss and develop engagement models on how to bring indigenous and rural women together and help develop sustainable approaches to rural and regional engagement.


Elise Whedon

2012 Victorian Runner-up – Elise Wenden

Elise’s Award ambition was to demystify the role of soil biology in sustainable farming by providing unique farmer friendly resources to land managers.

At the time of the Award, Elise Wenden ran her own business Fruition Nutrition, where she provides consulting services, educational material, workshops and short courses related to soil health and sustainability.

Since 2009 Elise has engaged, with her partner and his family, in mixed farming, including dryland and irrigated cereal and oilseed crops, and merino sheep for wool and cross-bred sheep for prime lamb production, outside Charlton in northern Victoria.

In addition, Elise teaches sustainable farming and gardening workshops and short courses at neighbourhood centres around her region and works as a facilitator for community gardens in each Wimmera.

As a young woman working in regional Victoria, Elise is passionate about sustainable agriculture and about supporting the next generation of farmers, both men and women in rural communities.
Her Award ambition is to further develop her knowledge and expertise of biological farming as a source of re-invigoration for rural communities. She believes biological farming offers answers to some of farming’s big problems including rising financial and environmental costs and ever depreciating margins.
Her ambition is to partner with renowned Australian mycologist (soil fungi expert) Dr Mary Cole, to expand her knowledge and experience of soil microbiology. The knowledge will be captured in a farm friendly handbook on soil health and biological farming, so encouraging farmers to adapt their management practices towards biological systems.

Elise planned to travel to rural communities throughout Australia, promoting the role of biological farming. She hopes to inspire rural women and re invigorate enthusiasm for farming and regional communities into the next generation. 


Corinne Annetts

2012 New South Wales Runner-up – Corinne Annetts

Corinne’s Award ambition is to support rural women in business enterprises and the expansion of the dairy goat industry in New South Wales

Corinne Annett’s is a dairy goat farmer and Principal of Sunhill Skin Essentials, which produces and a range of goat milk based skin care products and moisturisers, she markets to clients both within   Australia and overseas.

Corinne is a teacher by trade, but her family have been farming for the past ten years, initially in Tasmania before moving to the New England in 2004.

Corinne believes the dairy goat industry has a strong future, given the strong demand for goat milk and cheeses, both domestically and overseas. She believes the industry offers new enterprise opportunities to farmers and new value adding opportunities for regional NSW.

Corinne’s Award ambition was to expand her business from cosmetics to goat cheeses and to be become a quality supplier of a comprehensive range of dairy goat products.

She planned to travel to New Zealand to increase her knowledge and understanding of the dairy goat industry, in  particular cheese making, to grow her business, to support and mentor rural women in business enterprise and support the expansion of the dairy goat industry in New South Wales.


Alison McIntosh

2010 New South Wales Runner-up – Alison McIntosh

Beef industry innovator

At the time of the Award, Alison McIntosh was Principal of AJM Livestock Solutions, a business that offers beef cattle producers a number of specialised services including electronic data capture for improved herd management and compliance to the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS).

Alison’s Award ambition was to further her leadership contribution to the beef industry through further education and networking and to support the uptake by beef cattle producers of new technology for improved herd management, through the production of an industry training package.

While Alison did not receive a Bursary, awarded only to winners, she continued to pursue her leadership ambitions and in 2011 was accepted into the Australian Rural Leadership Program (Course 18). Alison’s contribution to the beef industry was acknowledged with her selection as the winner of the NAB Agribusiness and Cattle Council of Australia ‘Rising Champion’ Award.

The Award required Alison to speak and attend several events. She was dinner speaker at the Youth Ag Central Forum hosted by the Future Farmers Network.

Alison was appointed a Director on the Board of the Australian Beef Industry Foundation.

Claire Peniceard

2010 Victorian Runner-up – Claire Penniceard

Rural sustainability campaigner

At the time of the Award, Claire Penniceard had been farming for the previous two decades and was the owner and sole Director of The Pig Pen Pty Ltd, a significant pig production business that grows out pigs in north-east Victoria on contract to service specialist export markets.

The Pig Pen’s environmental credentials have received a number of Awards, including the Pork Industry Environmental Stewardship Award and the only farming enterprise ever to become a national finalist in the Banksia Awards.

The challenges of getting approval from her shire council to set up an intensive enterprise on her own broad acre farm is what motivated Claire’s Award ambition. Claire believed that shires across Australia were having to come to terms with significant change in land use, both for urbanisation and more intensive agricultural purposes, and the unplanned nature of this land use was causing significant social and environmental conflict over amenity and resources.

Claire’s answer to the conflict was the Precinct Strategy, a planned land use change, which allows for the strategic co-location of enterprises including intensive agriculture, industrial and conservation entities and would allow for the efficient provision and servicing of the infrastructure required for them. Leading up to the Award she spent the previous six years working on the Precinct Strategy and had created and led an industry reference group to support the planning process. The zoning process had been completed and a planning panel approved the process.

Claire believed the Precinct strategy had the potential to change how we utilise our land for sustainable agricultural production nationally against the challenges of food security. She was committed to speaking with various national bodies and agencies about her experiences and knowledge and the benefits of the Precinct Strategy.

Jane Milburn

2010 Queensland Runner-up – Jane Milburn

Farmer advocate

Jane Milburn is an agricultural scientist, freelance writer and media consultant.

Jane’s Award ambition was to cultivate a fresh brand for Australian agriculture, through credible and positive stories about sustainable food production, delivered through a consumer focused web platform.

While Jane did not receive a Bursary, awarded only to winners, she continued to pursue her Award ambition, actively communicating the importance of Australian agriculture and sustainable food production and farming practices. Jane was successful in launching a trial web platform.

Jane, during her Award tenure was invited to speak and attend a number of events, including the Rural Women’s Symposium and the Westpac ‘Learn, Lead and Succeed, Queensland forum.

She has continued to promote Australian agriculture and fresh healthy produce,  and worked in the health side of food after being appointed the Communications Manager for Diabetes Australia -Queensland. She was appointed Honorary Secretary of International House Board of Management and was a Mentor to the Australian Future Grain Leaders Program.

Stacey Fallon

2010 South Australian Runner-up – Stacey Fallon

Regional food champion

At the time of the Award, Stacey Fallon held the position of Food Development Officer with the Eyre Peninsula Regional Development Board, working with a diverse range of primary industries, including seafood, grain, meat and wine. Stacey also helped her husband run their 7,000-acre cropping and livestock property in Lock on the Eyre Peninsula.

Her professional position involved improving the region’s primary industries business capabilities, through efforts such as facilitating the entry of food companies into new markets, providing feedback to growers to stimulate new product and process development, and supporting market driven value chains, to increase the region’s food sectors sustainability.

A key focus of Stacey’s role had been the establishment and ongoing management of Brand Eyre Peninsula ‘Australia’s Seafood Frontier’, a marketing initiative designed to cement the Eyre Peninsula’s position as one of Australia’s top food producing regions.

Stacey’s vision was to see Eyre Peninsula become a market leader, by working collaboratively in sharing resources, by employing more innovative marketing and education programs and by increasing customer knowledge and appreciation for the region’s produce.

Her Award ambition was to travel to the world’s largest food market organisation; the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to learn from their marketing programs. ASMI is a world leader in marketing and had successfully implemented a number of innovative initiatives, such as consumer point-of-sale items and retail sale aids, targeted food service staff training and education programs including an interactive web based training program. The study would provide Stacey with the knowledge and know-how to execute new marketing initiatives in the Eyre Peninsula and to develop the Eyre Peninsula Retail and Food Service Seafood User Guide.

Erin Gorter

2010 Western Australian Runner-up – Erin Gorter

Encouraging women and youth back into agricultural industries

Erin Gorter is a broad acre farmer from Kojonup in south west Western Australia. At the time of the Award she was President of the Evergreen Farming Grower Group and Chair of WA Q Lamb.

Erin’s Award ambition was to further develop her leadership skills, to support her leadership advancement and to encourage women and youth back into agricultural industries.

While Erin did not receive a bursary, awarded only to winners, she continued to pursue her Award ambition and took up a number of additional leadership positions, including being appointed to the WA Meat Industry Authority Board, appointed Executive Officer of Southern DIRT (Dollars Information Research Technology) and Executive Officer of Evergreen Farming. Erin also completed the GrowZone Leadership Program, a six month mentoring program for rural business leaders.

Erin, through the Award, was invited to speak at a number of events, including the 2010 Farming Ahead Conference, the Lambex Conference and the Grower Group Alli­ance Forum.

Catriona Macleod

2010 Tasmanian Runner-up – Catriona Macleod

Aquaculture educator

At the time of the Award, Dr Catriona Macleod was the Research Group Leader for Ecosystems Effects of Aquaculture at the Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute.

Catriona’s Award ambition was to improve the understanding of aquaculture’s effects on the environment and to improve the industry’s ability to mitigate and manage its environmental footprint.

While Catriona did not receive a Bursary, awarded only to winners, she continued to pursue her leadership development and her contribution to her industry. She was elected Deputy Chair of the IMAS Reserch Committee, responsible for developing the research agenda within the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies within UTas and elected to the IMAS Education Committee.

Catriona was invited to speak at a number of significant industry events, including the Australiasian Aquaculture Conference and the International Council for Exploration of the Seas Annual Science Meeting in Nantes, France.


Gillian Hogendyk

2009 New South Wales Runner-up - Gillian Hogendyk

Gillian is a Veterinarian, however, her commitment to primary industries and its sustainability is principally through her voluntary work. She has represented the Macquarie Valley on the National Parks and Wildlife Community Advisory Committee, having served on that committee for 11 years.

Through the Committee Gillian developed a strong interest in the Macquarie Marshes and in how the irrigation community can be involved in conserving the marshes. She along with 30 other local landholders helped form a unit trust to purchase a small property in the Marshes called ‘Burrima’ and to manage it for conservation outcomes. Burrima is regularly visited by school, university, research and NRM groups for educational purposes. 

Gillian is deeply concerned over the national water issue and the current arrangements of buying water as the sole means of achieving environmental outcomes. Her group, the Macquarie Marshes Environmental Trust, purchased a small property in the Macquarie Marshes, removed cattle from it and set about actively revegetating it. The response was spectacular, with reed beds regenerating rapidly, native plants choking out invasive weeds, and increasing biodiversity. The work has shown what environmental gains can be achieved through improved land and water management. Gillian would like to see a larger proportion of the funds currently earmarked for water purchase being used to fund on ground projects like the one she helps to manage. In this way she believes rural communities can be sustained and can be part of the water solution. 

Gillian’s Award ambition was to tour a number of wetlands in the Murray Darling Basin, focusing on those that are managed for conservation by non-government or community organisations, exploring the costs, benefits, problems and solutions they have encountered with a view to applying her learnings to the Marshes and more widely in the Basin.

Kate Wilson

2009 Victoria Runner-up - Kate Wilson

At the time of the Award, Kate Wilson had been a broadacre agronomist for the previous fifteen years and at the forefront of advising growers on sustainable agricultural practices. She was also a partner with her husband in a 5,000 hectare broad-acre cropping operation.

Kate’s key roles as a consultant included developing farm plans based on profitability and sustainability, providing clients with advice on crop rotation and variety selection, assisting with fertilizer and nutrition decisions, along with in-crop nutrition and herbicide advice, disease and pest identification and gross margin analysis. She was also an active member of the Birchip Cropping Group’s Advisory Committee, having undertaken consultancy work and delivered group training workshops to the group. 

Her vision was for growers to consistently achieve their potential yields through better understanding the interaction between soil, water and the crops they grow, so that broadacre farming becomes more profitable, viable and sustainable. 

Kate’s Award ambition was to undertake a study tour of the United States and Canada to gain a greater understanding of soil biology. She was particularly interested in the work of Dr Dwayne Beck at the Dakota Lakes Research Farm. Her new learnings and ideas would be disseminated back to her client base, to the Birchip Cropping Group and to the regions’ farmers.

Wendy Agar

2009 Queensland Runner-up - Wendy Agar

Wendy Agar and her family own and operate Myendetta Station, a 18,000 hectare property thirty kilometres south west of Charleville. Myendetta Station is a sheep and cattle property and a rural tourism venture and has been in Richard Agar’s family since 1890. At the time of the Award, Wendy was an active participant in a number of rural organizations including Agforce, the Future Farmers Network and the Queensland Rural Women’s Network. She was also a delegate to the Queensland Government’s Rural Women’s Symposium in Roma. 

Wendy is passionate about learning and education and about promoting and marketing the bush. She underwent a steep learning curve in the seven years leading up to the Award, including undertaking training in holistic management, business management and personal development to build her business skills and decision making. She also completed a number of short tourism courses, and in 2003 in response to drought, Myendetta Station through the Outback Queensland Tourism Association commenced a tourism operation. 

Wendy’s Award ambition was to develop a series of educational webinars and teleconferences for other women on the land who had experienced the harsh realities of drought and fluctuating commodity prices.

The webinars would not only provide valuable information and discussion with informed speakers,  but also provide a network for women coping with drought and with isolation to share their experiences and to support each other.

Ulli Spranz

2009 South Australia Runner-up - Ulli Spranz

Ulli Spranz is a pioneer in biological and organic farming in South Australia and she with her husband Helmet are the Principals of B-d Farm Paris Creek and Paris Creek Cheese Pty Ltd. which include a biodynamic dairy farming property, a milk processing plant and cheese manufacturing. At the time of the Award they had 38 employees, processed 2.9 million litres of milk a year and in 2008 sold in excess of $5 million of product.

She was one of the founding members of the Biodynamic and Organic Agricultural Bureau, a farmer organization established to network and exchange experiences, and was Chair of Biodynamic Agriculture Australia Ltd, recognized as the most successful biodynamic organization worldwide. 

Ulli’s passion was to educate others in biodynamic and organic farming principles. Her Award ambition was to continue to grow the work she did in educating others in biodynamic farming, through conducting courses and workshops to promote biodynamic and organic farming principles and making the workshops available to not only farmers but a variety of interested people at low cost and in various geographic locations.

She planned to travel overseas to Europe to exchange information with rural women groups and to discuss environmental issues that hold worldwide significance.

Doris Parker

2009 Western Australia Runner-up - Doris Parker

Doris Parker, along with her husband and family, manage Peedamulla Station in the Pilbara. The station was bought for Doris’ community back in 1975, when at its peak it ran 15,000 sheep and 1,500 cattle. But drought, lack of money and the fall in wool prices brought trouble to the community; Trevor and Doris took over the running of the station in 1981 and began the huge task of repaying the community’s outstanding debts, building up the cattle herd and restoring the station back to a viable concern. At the time of the Award, Doris worked as a Customer Service Officer for the Department of Child Protection at Onslow, fostering children and providing a safe rural haven for many out on Peedamulla Station.

Her life story is one of how an Aboriginal woman can have a significant impact on the sustainability of the Pilbara pastoral industry, by combining her cultural heritage and wisdom, organizational ability and maternal instinct, to become a role model for future generations of Aboriginal pastoralists. 

Doris’ vision was to free the next generation from their dependence on the welfare system and on alcohol and drugs, and to instill in them her passion for the land and the stock, and to encourage in them the skills to run a top performing cattle station. 

Her Award ambition was to write a book documenting her life story, so exposing the next generation to the wisdom of their elders and by doing so provide leadership and encouragement, to steer for them a path of higher expectations. She was also seeking training in leadership to assist her with engaging the youth in culture and to voice the wisdom of Aboriginal women in steering the younger women to believe in themselves and in their future.

Jane Huntington

2009 Tasmania Runner-Up  - Jane Huntington

Jane and her husband are the principals in the family farm business The Two Metre Tall Company. The business is based at their property ‘Charlemont’ in the Derwent Valley in southern Tasmania. 

Jane and her husband came to farming via the wine industry and they have successfully transferred their understanding and expertise in the winery to a grain growing and brewery business. They value add their grains by making naturally fermented and hand-made real ale on farm. Diversification into real ales significantly drought proofed their farm and made their business much more robust than had they been relying on commodity markets for sale of grain alone. 

She had a vision for beer manufacturing that uses much larger percentages of Australian grown and processed malt as well as a greater selection of grain varieties for an increased flavour spectrum. 

Jane’s Award ambition was to travel to England to research their well established malt barley industry. She wanted to study relationships as they already exist between contracted grain growers and the specialist floor malting companies. She also wanted to tap into their experience on the relationship between grain variety and beer quality. 

Jane’s believed the study tour, in bringing back new knowledge from the established malt barley industry, would not only be extremely valuable to the expansion of her business but to the future development of this niche industry nationally.

Moira Lanzarin

2009 Northern Territory Runner-up - Moira Lanzarin

Moira comes from modern pioneering stock and at the time of the Award was a Director of family-run Coodardie Brahmans. They operate two cattle properties, Coodardie and Numul Numul Station in the Mataranka region of the Northern Territory. They run approximately 3000 head of Brahman cattle and Moira co-directs the business, selling and promoting Coodardie stud cattle across the north.

Moira is an active member of Australian Women in Agriculture andwas a keynote speaker at the 2000 National Conference in Darwin. She has also represented Northern Australia on the Deputy Prime Minister’s Inaugural Regional Women’s Advisory Council, and she has represented the Territory at the World Congress of Young Farmers in Paris in 2003 and was appointed to the first Federal Council of Young Farmers in 2006. 

Moira believes that rural Australia is facing increasingly difficult times that will require new skills and greater adaptability to handle change. She believes holistic management  is a decision making framework that provides real tools to help individuals make better decisions which will simultaneously lead to a more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable land, business and community. 

Moira’s Award ambition was to become a Certified Educator in Holistic Management for northern Australia. Her ambition was to be accepted into the Holistic Management International’s Certified Educator Program, to undertake training, to travel to the International Holistic Management Institute in Albuquerque in the US to meet with HM practitioners, and to return with greater knowledge and exposure and to share her learning’s through her local Learning Community with northern Australia.



2008 New South Wales Runner-up - Louisa Kiely

Louisa Kiely is a superfine wool grower from Goolma. She is passionate about climate change issues and ensuring that farmers are included in the carbon trading debate. 

Louisa believes that farmers have a critical and practical role to play in responding to global warming while continuing to generate valuable income by exchanging soil carbon credits to underwrite farm income which could offset emissions from methane and other greenhouse gases. 

She co-founded the Carbon Coalition against Global Warming in 2006, to lobby government for the right of Australian landholders to trade the credits they earn by sequestering carbon in their soils on the emissions offset market. 

Her project involved the establishment of, the world’s first website devoted to raising the profile of the benefits of increasing carbon in agricultural soils world wide, in an effort to restore family farms and save the planet.


2008 Victoria Runner-up - Lucy Mayes

Lucy Mayes is trained as a lawyer and social worker and works in economic development to support primary producers in her shire of Mount Alexander in seeking to grow their markets and supply-chain connectivity.

Lucy is active in her community and was heavily involved in The Food Project, which was aimed at education, advocacy and awareness in consumers of the origins of their food.

Lucy’s main passion is the development of young people to their maximum creative potential. Through her work she has seen first-hand the significant issue of rural communities losing their young people.

Her project was to explore existing rural youth development acitivies with a view to creating an Australia-wide rural youth leadership and mentoring program.


2008 Queensland Runner-up - Georgie Somerset

Georgie Somerset is a beef producer from Kingaroy. She was founding member of the Queensland Rural Women’s Network, was responsible for the agricultural portfolio on the National Council of Women in Queensland and Australia and sat on the National Rural Advisory Council. 

At the time of the Award, Georgie had committed the previous two decades to ‘selling the bush’ to the urban population. She believes there is a new tide of interest and awareness of the importance of agriculture and the bush among urban consumers, who are actively seeking links with rural businesses and events. 

Her ambition was to create Bushlinks, a web portal that would not only provide accurate information on Australian agriculture, but linked urban Australia with events and businesses in rural and regional Australia.


2008 South Australia Runner-up - Yvonne Smith

At the time of the Award, Yvonne Smith had been involved in the horticultural industry in South Australia as a grower and industry advocate for the previous 20 years. 

She was the first woman Chair of Onions Australia, sat on the Industry Advisory Committee to Horticulture Australia and was actively involved in the SA Soil Conservation Council. 

Her project involved a study tour of the onion growing regions in the San Joaquin Valley of California so she could examine the practicalities, barriers and benefits of drip irrigation, with the prospect of introducing drip irrigation into large scale broad acre production of onions in her regions and state.

She believed the outcomes of her project would be the assurance of the most efficient water-use for her industry and would also contribute to the certainty of water-flow for communities along the Murray River.


2008 Western Australia Runner-up - Audrey Bird

At the time of the Award, Audrey Bird was a farmer from the wheatbelt of Western Australia, a director of the family farm business and a leader within her industry as demonstrated through her role as President of the Facey Group. 

Her vision ‘Growing Grower Groups’ was to utilise the existing grower group framework, such as the Facey Group, to identify how to value add to the membership of the group, by developing new products and services to better meet their needs. 

Her project involved interstate travel to learn from other grower groups and groups outside agriculture, the opportunities, products and services they are offering their members.

2008 Tasmania Runner-up - Amabel Fulton

At the time of the Award, Amabel Fulton was Chief Executive of Rural Development Services and boasted some 20 years experience in sustainable agriculture and rural capacity building. She also sat on the Federal Government’s Regional Women’s Advisory Council. 

Her company had been operating for eight years and provided services aimed at enhancing the capacity of rural people and organisations, including research and development, rural social research, business and people development both within Tasmania and nationally. 

Amabel’s ambition was to develop a successful business-case for the formation of a national network of women training brokers. The network would provide local family farm businesses with opportunities to access training, support and assistance, while offering funding providers with a mechanism and a group of trainers to channel their products and services directly to their target audience. A pilot roll out of the model was being sponsored by Horticulture Australia.



2007 New South Wales Runner-up - Fiona Kliendeinst

At the time of the Award, Fiona Kliendeinst was an ultra-fine wool producer  who with her husband operated an OFDA testing business from outside Uralla in northern New South Wales. 


She holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics from the University of New England and holds corporate experience at Solutions Marketing and Research Group, the Biological Wool Harvesting Company and ABRI Breed plan. 

Her frustration with the lack of availability of wool garments and woolen materials saw Fiona become involved in the Australian Wool Fashion Awards and involved in work with the Sheep CRC and CSIRO in trialling wools for quality performance. 

She started up a small business for made to measure woollen garments made from 100 percent Australian wool and produced by local rural women who produce the wool. 

Her vision was to grow the business, to expand into larger premises and to employ more rural women. She planned within five years to have a fully operational studio with five full time seamstresses and two cutting and finishing staff and a showroom open to the public, full of beautiful wool and wool blend materials and garments. 

Her long term vision was to have a fully vertically integrated operation, complete with scouring and processing mill, dying spinning, weaving and finishing facilities, and a full time staff of over 150 women designing, sewing and promoting Australian wool to the world. 

Fiona planned to travel to Italy to attend the Fashion and Apparel Show in Milan, where all the international mills showcase their runs, and to visit wool processing mills and fashion houses, to make contacts and learn from them the industry beyond the farm gate and the needs and demands of the international market. 

She believed the knowledge and experience gained would be invaluable in turning her cottage industry into a successful business venture for the region’s producers and a significant employer of the region’s rural women.


2007 Victoria Runner-up - Vera Fleming

At the time of the Award, Vera Fleming and her husband owned and operated a mixed fruit orchard in the Goulburn Valley of Victoria. Vera is a leader in her own right, representing her industry and rural women across of number of platforms tackling issues such salinity, water conservation and pest management. 

She has held a number of key positions including past President of the Goulburn Valley Women in Agriculture and former Member of the DPIE Pear Industry Steering Committee and Goulburn Valley Water. At the time of the Award, she was Chair of the Shepparton Fruit Growers Association. 

Her ambition was to demonstrate a profitable farm business, complimented with a diversity of value added products, such as fruit juices and wines, condiments and confectionary. 

Her project titled ‘The Spirit of the Valley’ involved visiting similar farm businesses within Victoria and interstate and learning from their value adding and niche marketing initiatives. She hoped to identify new innovative marketing, packaging and branding tools and to extend her network of manufacturers and suppliers so that she could develop a tool kit of innovative ideas and networks to disseminate to other women and regions. 

Vera hoped that through her project local women and in particular culturally and linguistically diverse women (CALD) would be encouraged to look beyond pure production to value adding opportunities and be encouraged to develop new business ventures for themselves. She hoped to develop her leadership and mentoring capacity to enable her to better support women within her community.


2007 Queensland Runner-up - Linda Jaques

Linda Jaques and her husband Nat are Australia’s coffee industry pioneers, having established the first ever coffee plantation in the Cairns Highlands in 1979. 

The Jaques family were responsible for developing much of the industry’s technology including Australia’s first coffee harvester and have been fundamental to the survival and success of the Australian coffee industry. 

At the time of the Award, the coffee roasting, distribution and wholesaling industry in Australia was worth around $10 billion a year and growing fast. The Jaques family owned and operated Jaques Australian Coffee at Mareeba, a successful award winning coffee and agritourism venture, which produced over 31 tonnes a coffee a year. 

Linda’s goal was to produce Australia’s first naturally produced caffeine free coffee, as a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to decaffeinated coffee. Three naturally grown caffeine free, high quality Arabica plants were discovered in Ethiopia by Brazilian scientists. 

Her proposed activity was to travel to the University of Campinas at Sao Paulo in Brazil to meet with the scientists responsible for the discovery, to work with them to source tissue culture and to gain some insight into the cultivation of the plants. She plans to cultivate and grow out the cultures, to then plant out the trees, a process she estimated would take five years before the trees can be harvested and available to the broader industry. 

Linda also proposed to establish a bursary out of the proceeds generated from caffeine free coffee, to benefit rural women in Ethiopia. She believed her project offered enormous potential in providing a healthy and environmentally friendly caffeine free coffee and as a new rural industry for Australia.


2007 South Australia Runner-up - Natasha Mooney

At the time of the Award, Natasha Mooney had been heavily involved in the South Australian wine industry for the previous 15 years. During that time she saw the fortunes of the industry and its people shift markedly as they were forced to cope with severe water shortages, oversupply of grapes and softer export markets. 

Natasha’s vision was to help turn around the fortunes of growers and the industry by developing a new grape beverage and in effect new markets for grapes. Her concept was a natural sparkling grape juice to be produced from excess red wines grapes - grapes that are currently left on the vine to rot. 

The product would be essentially a grape juice based on any selection of red wine grapes, subjected to only partial fermentation and resulting in a sparkling and sweet grape juice with significantly reduced alcohol content. 

Natasha’s proposed activity involved taking the product from early testing and trialling to commercial reality. Her activity involved further product trialling and development, combined with research into branding, packaging and marketing, both domestically and internationally. 

While her product had some way to go before it became a commercial reality, she believed  that if successful, the beverage would provide growers with a new market avenue for their grapes, so helping reduce the current glut and helping to stabilize returns to growers.


2007 Western Australia Runner-up - Pia Boschetti

At the time of the Award, Pia Boschetti was part of a professional fishing family involved in a number of fisheries, including the northern prawn fishery, the western rock lobster and the demersal long line fishing industries. But her passion and profession for the previous seven years had been pearl farming. 

Pia farmed pearls at the Abrolhos Islands off Geraldton, believed to be the most southern point in the world to commercially culture black pearls. At the time of the Award, her farm was one of the major producers of Australian black pearls in Western Australia. 

The major pearling industry in Australia, based in the Broome region, is the maxima industry or the larger white pearls, with all other pearls, including the black pearl, the Japanese Akoya oyster pearl and the wing shell referred to as the non-maxima industry. 

While Pia’s farm was dedicated to the production of black pearls, they successfully trialled the production of high quality and larger than average size Akoya pearls. 

With the Japanese produced Akoya pearl in serious decline due to pollution and disease, the implications for the Australian pearl industry were potentially huge, with anecdotal feedback from the export markets very encouraging. 

Pia’s ambition was to produce Akoya pearls of a high grade that had not been seen in the Japanese markets for several years. Her proposed activity was to explore further the techniques for Akoya production in Japan and to investigate further the opportunities for both Akoya and black pearls into the Japanese and European markets.


2007 Tasmania Runner-up - Gail Menegon

At the time of the Award, Gail was a livestock producer, and in partnership with her husband they bred Murray Grey cattle, White Suffolk sheep and Standard bred horses in northern Tasmania.

The Murray Grey cattle stud had been operating for the previous ten years and while they had bred and raced standard bred horses as a hobby for the previous 20 years, 2007 was the first year Gail and husband Lyndon  bred yearlings for sale for the inaugural Magic Millions Standard bred sale on 1 March. 


Gail was also actively involved in her industry, having served as Secretary and Treasurer of the Tasmanian Murray Grey Breed Promotion Group for the previous six years. She also served on the Beef Cattle Committee of the Royal Launceston Show and was a member of the Tasmanian White Suffolk Promotion Group. 

Gail’s vision was to raise awareness and the level of information on the nutrition, education and presentation of yearling Standard bred horses for sale. Her proposal was borne out of a desire to gain skills and valuable information on nutrition and presentation of yearlings for sale and the harness racing industry in general. She planned to undertake study tours of established and successful breeding studs in New Zealand, New South Wales and Victoria, to attend forums on the nutrition and education of horses and to meet with experts in the field. 

She hoped to share the information and skills acquired with other harness racing participants, and also hoped that her achievements would empower other women to create new opportunities and in turn strengthen primary industries.


2007 Northern Territory Runner-up - Tina MacFarlane

Tina MacFarlane has been involved in the pastoral industry in the Northern Territory for most of her professional life, from a jillaroo mustering cattle and mending fences to being and equal partner in a stud and commercial Brahman beef cattle operation outside Mataranka. 

Tina and her husband, in the space of 25 years,  converted 150 square kilometres of scrub country into a highly developed property, boasting numerous watering points, improved pastures and a network of paddocks to accommodate their herd of 1000 head. 

Their holistic approach to managing the property, involving a higher rotation of cattle through smaller paddocks delivered a number of benefits, including improved soil structure, reduced weed pressures, less reliance of herbicides and pesticides, and an increased conception and calving rate. 

Tina’s quest to improve the carcass traits and eating quality of their cattle led her to the relatively new technology of ultrasound scanning. The technology allows for accurate and objective recording of carcass quality traits such as eye muscle area, subcutaneous fat cover and intra muscular fat or marbling. 

The data is able to be collected and recorded through Breedplan, the national beef cattle genetic evaluation system, thereby aiding buyers in their selection of cattle for meat quality and carcass traits and assisting in targeting specific market requirements. 

However with no accredited scanners available in the Territory, Tina’s proposed activity was to become an accredited scanner for the benefit of her own operation and to be able to assist other producers become accredited to Breedplan and to produce cattle better suited to their markets.



2006 New South Wales Runner-Up - Mary Howard

Mary has been intrinsically involved in the commercial fishing industry since the mid 1970’s. At the time of the Award, Mary and her husband Graham jointly owned and operated two commercial prawn trawlers. She was an associate member of the Hawkesbury Trawl Association and a member of the Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community. She was also the Chairperson of the Wisemen’s Ferry Aged and Community Care Association. 

Mary is committed to the environmental sustainability of the fishery within the Hawkesbury-Nepean River and recognizes the importance of the catchment’s environmental sustainability to the industry’s viability. 

In 2001 the Seafood Industry Council asked Mary to represent Hawkesbury and Shoalhaven River fishermen on the Hawkesbury-Nepean River Management Forum, whose terms of reference included a review of the environmental flow requirements of the river system. She submitted and presented papers to a number of forums including a paper focusing on making environment and social impact assessment count at the Coast to Coast conference and a paper titled ‘Canary in the Estuary’ to the Asia Pacific Conference. Mary was also appointed Director of the Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Management Authority. 

Mary planned to produce and distribute tools that would make it easier for the women of the Hawkesbury trawl to promote their industry, within their community and to Government agencies. The tools were to include a brochure and a DVD detailing the fishery and its environmental track record along with a publication showcasing licensed fishers and their social, economic and environmental links to the river. The material would link in with material already available, including the Ocean Watch information trailer, in raising the profile and positive image of fishers and their sensitivity to their environment.

2006 New South Wales Runner-up - Catherine Ford

At the time of the Award, Catherine Ford was an organic farmer with 110 acres of macadamia nut and coffee trees on the North Coast of NSW. Originally from Sydney, Catherine left the city for a 'sea change', having no experience in rural industry. 

Nine years after their move in 1997 Catherine and her husband were running a successful enterprise which continued to go from strength to strength. Catherine's Award project included providing a guide for fellow broad acre macadamia nut and coffee farmers to move from conventional farming to more sustainable practices. 

With the bursary she hoped to develop a website and deliver workshops to female farmers as a way of showcasing successful commercial organic farming methods.


2006 Victoria Runner-up - Catherine Bell

At the time of the Award, Catherine had been intrinsically involved in the fishing industry for the previous 30 years, working in numerous capacities as a deckhand, boat builder, accounts clerk, process worker, export manager, logistics and human resources manager. In 1985 her business grew from a husband and wife outfit to a medium sized operation, specializing in carp products for both the domestic and export market. The business employed 18 staff in 2006. 

Catherine’s commitment to the sustainable future of the fishing industry and to the role of rural women is evident in the numerous positions she has held, including Board Member of WINSC (Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community), Consolidated Fishermen Pty Ltd, Fisheries Co-Management Council and Seafood Industry Victoria. Her involvement with the Fisheries Co-Management Council is on the subcommittees for Water and WIPARB (Women in Primary Industry Advisory Board) 

Catherine believes the fishing industry has become a leader in adopting and implementing food safety regulations and to support and assist her industry Catherine undertook an Associate Food Safety Auditor accreditation. 

Her proposed activity involved further food safety study and practical experience to achieve full accreditation as a food safety auditory, so allowing her to move beyond the seafood industry to other agricultural sectors. 

She believed through further accreditation she would become a role model for other women in the food industry, supporting them in gaining the skills and confidence to play a larger role in their businesses and in turn improving the reputation of their industries by raising the safety and quality standards.


2006 Queensland Runner-up - Ann Radke

At the time of the Award, Ann Radke and her husband Peter owned and operated Yuruga Nursery, a native plant nursery and one of the largest private employers on the Atherton Tablelands. The nursery was awarded the Nursery and Garden Industry of Queensland ‘Grower of the Year’ in 2002 and the Australian Institute of Management’s Rural & Remote Manager of the Year Award in 2005. 

Integral to the nurseries success and expansion has been the establishment of the subsidiary company Clonal Solutions Australia, specializing in the mass production of high value clonal crops for agriculture and forestry plantations. 

Yuruga Nursery has been a proactive member of the local community and the broader industry, conducting regular field days and actively partnering with RIRDC and the Queensland Department of Primary Industries to establish new cut foliage and bush tucker industries for the region

Ann’s vision for her industry is to see plant breeding and clonal technology provide the mechanism by which rural industries can maximize returns from limited arable land, while reducing pressure on Australia’s remaining native forests.

With Australia’s commitment to become self-sufficient in both hardwood and softwood timber production by 2020, she firmly believes that clonal forestry holds the key to a sustainable forestry industry. However while clonal forestry is now common practice in softwood pine plantations in Australia, its application to eucalypts hardwood plantations had been met with far less success.

Ann planned to undertake a study tour of South America to visit leading clonal forestry nurseries in Brazil, Chile and Uraguay, recognised as the world leaders in clonal propagation of forestry crops. 

She believes the importance of clonal forestry to the sustainable growth of the forestry industry in Australia cannot be overestimated and she was committed to sharing her new learnings with industry through publications and field days.


2006 South Australia Runner-up - Roxanne Prime

At the time of the Award, Roxanne had lived and worked as a partner in a rural enterprise for the previous 24 years. 

She has served her local rural community as President of the Wharminda branch of the Country Women’s Association, on numerous school, church and charitable organizations and on the Western Board of Country Arts S.A. 

Roxanne is deeply concerned about the impact the failure to attract new and younger people is having on rural communities and the primary industries that support them. She believes that diminishing social prospects creates one of the biggest challenges for encouraging younger people into rural communities and country S.A. 

Her proposed activity was an exhibition of paintings and multimedia works that profile rural women, validating their historical and contemporary contribution to agriculture and rural communities, so portraying a holistic image of rural communities to the broader audience.

Through her exhibition, to be titled “Feminising the Bush” she planned to encourage and incorporate other artists’ works in a traveling exhibition that would tour throughout South Australia.


2006 Western Australia Runner-up - Diana Holly

At the time of the Award, Diana Holly was co-principal of the Hidden Treasures of the Great Southern project. The project’s objective is to encourage economic growth and sustainability through rural tourism within the seven shires involved and their communities within the northern half of the Great Southern region. 

Di’s story is one of successful diversification on their own family farm, from traditional sheep and grain production into aquaculture and specifically barramundi production, which was no small feat given their farm is situated in the south of the state and barramundi are a tropical water fish. 

Di believes that rural diversification will become increasingly critical to the future viability of not only farming enterprises, but the broader rural community. 

She points to research that shows that rural tourism will be the next boom industry for farming communities. In 2002 visitor numbers to the great Southern Region totalled around 400,000 with an average stay of three days, translating into $105 million spending within the region.

Di’s vision was to ensure that small rural communities also reap the benefits of tourism, by better utilizing the agriculture and resources available to them, by encouraging diversification into rural tourism and by forging rural community partnerships. 

She was Chairperson of the Hidden Treasures Working Group. The group was successful in securing sufficient funding to begin implementing their five year rural tourism marketing plan, and they launched a major promotional brochure highlighting rural tourism points of interest along with trial drive maps that link the rural towns and communities together.

She was keen to attend the 2006 Tourism Australia Regional Tourism Convention to be held at Norfolk Island late in 2006, so she could gather the latest information on rural tourism along with new skills and valuable new contacts.


2006 Tasmania Runner-up - Cheryl McCartie

At the time of the Award, Cheryl was a partner in a dairy farming business, operating a milking herd of 600 cows on two properties at ‘Ringarooma.’ She and her husband Theo were finalists in the 2004 Agribusiness category of the Launceston Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards and received the Share Farmers Encouragement Award in 1999.

Cheryl was heavily involved in her local rural community and sat on a number of organizations including being the rural community representative on the University of Tasmania’s Academic Rural Health Advisory Group and member of the Dorset Women’s Retreat organizing Group. She also sat on the Executive Committee of Tasmanian Women in Agriculture and is the Chairperson of the 7th Women on Farms Gathering, which was expected to attract up to 250 rural women from Tasmania and interstate. 

She is strongly committed to sustainable farming systems and her personal vision is to ensure agriculture remains an attractive vibrant industry that embraces innovations that enhance its sustainability and the management of its natural resources. 

Her proposed activity involved investigating once-a-day milking systems as a strategy to improve farm productivity, sustainability, profitability and lifestyle. She believes once-a-day milking has a lot to offer industry in the current economic climate of increasing input costs and static farm gate prices, tighter environmental management requirements, and a skilled labour shortage and could prove to be more profitable and sustainable than twice daily milking.

There was substantial research underway and farmers trialing once-a-day milking in New Zealand. Cheryl planned to travel to New Zealand, visit farms and meet with a number of farmers willing to impart their knowledge and experience. 

She believed that by researching and then applying once-a-day milking to their own business, she would be able to demonstrate positive outcomes that she could share with other dairy farms and the industry generally in Tasmania and nationally.


2006 Northern Territory Runner-up - Pippa Clarke

At the time of the Award, Pippa Clarke had five years experience in the Northern Territory pastoral industry.

She worked as Rangelands Officer and Stud Registrar at Newcastle Waters Station, where she was responsible for environmental planning and the development of strategic projects, such as reducing the impact of weed encroachment into riparian areas, as well as the recording and reporting of performance and fertility data for the Brahman stud.

She has also worked as a Technical Rangelands Officer to the Department of Primary Industries & Fisheries, where she was involved in grazing management projects focusing on the impact of natural phenomena, including fire and drought on stock and the rangelands.

Pippa opened her own agribusiness consultancy ‘Northern Pastoral Operations’ specializing in natural resource management planning for pastoral businesses and National Livestock Identification support and training for the cattle industry. 

She has been an active member of the Barkly Landcare and Conservation Association, fostering support for projects involved in the preservation of the tablelands environment.

Pippa’s personal vision is vibrant successful rural communities within regional Australia and in particular the Northern Territory. She firmly believes the long term success of rural businesses is through strong economic management closely affiliated with environmental and social responsibility. 

Pippa’s proposed activity involved further study into business and change management and further investigation of the successes of businesses in other industries. She planned to undertake the Macquarie Graduate School of Management’s Leading Change Program and travel to Alice Springs and East Gippsland to study the Environmental Management Systems adopted by their regional beef groups.

She planned to use her knowledge and skills gained to help pastoral and rural businesses improve their financial stability and success. She also planned to develop a pilot workshop, specifically designed for rural women within the pastoral industry, to engage them in discussion and new learning’s into property and catchment management planning, leadership and change management.



2005 New South Wales Runner-up - Kate Woodward

A more innovative and quality-focused dairy industry

Kate is the creator and owner/operator of Hunter Belle Cheese, a boutique cheese company based at Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley, which produces unique, high quality, hand made cheese from milk of Brown Swiss cows. 

Her vision for the dairy industry is for it to become more innovative and focused on quality, value adding and niche markets. Her goal is to strengthen the dairy industry through growth of Hunter Belle Cheese, by identifying and producing new products and expanding current markets. 

Kate says that participating in the Award helped her assess where Hunter Belle Cheese was positioned within the dairy industry and how she could improve her individual and business contribution to her local community and industry. 

Kate says her involvement in the Award has also assisted with awareness of Hunter Belle Cheese products which resulted in growth and expanded volume into the Sydney and Queensland markets throughout 2005 and 2006. 

The Award Bursary allowed Kate to undertake a study tour of specialist cheese factories in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. The tour proved invaluable in exposing Kate to new techniques and cheeses, to establishing new networks and connections and in giving her the confidence to expand her own product range.  

As a direct result of participating in the Award Kate became involved in a number of rural organizations and government advisory bodies in NSW. She was appointed a member of the NSW Dairy Industry Conference, which advises the NSW Minister for Primary Industries on the general policies of NSW Food Authority and other aspects of policies that affect the dairy industry. She was also appointed to the Board of Ag Start, a NSW government scheme to promote and facilitate career paths for young people in agriculture. In addition she has recently been appointed to the Board of the NSW Assistance Authority. 

She has also proved herself to be a worthy role model for rural youth and has recently created an opportunity through a school-based traineeship for one of her junior employees.


2005 Victoria Runner-Up - Elaine Paton

Step Out and Make a Difference: Basic Leadership and Management Training for Rural Women

Elaine has a strong commitment to rural women, having been a founding member of Australian Women in Agriculture, and having served terms on the Victorian RWN Reference Group along with three Women’s Advisory Boards to the Victorian Departments of Justice, Natural Resources and Management and Victorian Communities. 

Her vision is to see rural women stepping out and making a difference, “Getting Business Done Better and Right” by raising their basic business, management and leadership skills. 

Elaine used the Award bursary to undertake the Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Program (AVCLP), a 12 month course of structured activities, providing for extensive skills development and networking opportunities with a diverse group of leaders from her region. Topics covered by the program included regional development, the environment, local government, arts and culture, youth, media and public speaking. 

Elaine developed the “Stepping Out and Make a Difference” manual, to compliment the three day course, that was launched on World Rural Women’s Day, 15th October 2006. The program included a comprehensive list of topics from networking, self confidence and self care, personal skills audit, public speaking and working with the media, political lobbying and the machinery of government and NGO’s, communication and conflict resolution, working in community or a family business and managing the business and organization. 

The program Elaine proposed was made available to Community Education Centres and Neighbourhood Houses, delivered as a week-by-week or residential course, by professionals or by community tutors. 

Elaine hoped the program would provide a format for educating and training women to be confident, well informed and capable partners and leaders, in their family businesses, their industries and communities, and in effect providing for women to become role models and trainers in businesses and community groups.


2005 Queensland Runner-up - Delphine Bentley

Corporate Social Responsibility in the International Beef Market

At the time of the Award, Delphine was General Manager of Corporate Development with The North Australian Pastoral Company (NAPCO)

Her vision for the Queensland and the Australian beef industry was an industry which is sustainable and viable, through beef producers being more responsive to consumer attitudes and demand, with improved public perception resulting in greater demand for product and in turn the further adoption of sustainable practices by producers. 

Delphine believes there is a growing interest both domestically and abroad with how meat is produced and how farmers and retailers meet the key principles of Corporate and Social responsibility (CSR includes obligations to social welfare, economic development and environmental management).

Her project involved a study tour to the United Kingdom to determine how domestic and export markets are influenced by consumers preferences for beef produced following the principles of CSR. The Award Bursary contributed in part to her travel and accommodation expenses.

Delphine was overwhelmed by the level of general discussion relating to CSR in red meat industries, both in the UK and in Australia, with producers and retailers alike sensitive to the importance of projecting images of happy and healthy customers, animals and environments. 

All producers she met with, while driven by market specifications and commodity prices, recognize the strong link between sound operational practices and reducing production risks and costs. Those producers are employing the principles of CSR, either deliberately or through external drivers and are recognizing the benefits of these principles. 

She believes that while it is highly unlikely that consumers will pay premiums for ethically produced meat, they will increasingly expect the principles of CSR to be employed and upheld by producers. 

The major outcomes from Delphine’s study tour included her promotion to the position of NAPCO General Manager Corporate Development, the opportunity to present on a number of occasions and significantly as part of a Panel discussion on Corporate Responsibility as part of the 7th National Business Leaders Forum on Sustainable Development in Brisbane in May 2006 and to the Corporate Sustainability Executive Training Program at the University of Queensland Business School. Delphine has recently been awarded the Queensland DPI&F Scholarship for the Australian Institute of Company Directors New Directors Program. She has also recently accepted the position of Future farmers Network Coordinator/Acting Secretary.


2005 South Australia Runner-up - Lyn Dohle

Sustaining Rural Women

At the time of the Award, Lyn was a Senior Land Management Consultant with Rural Solutions SA and with her partner, owned and operated a sheep and cropping operation on Kangaroo Island.  

She is committed to the empowerment of rural women and believes that rural women need to have the support and the skills to determine life’s priorities and to reach a balance between the many facets of their lives. 

Lyn’s proposed activity involved the establishment of a Kangaroo Island rural women’s group, to provide support to the group members to develop their own skills and projects. The Look@Wool concept was selected, the program allows participants to focus on the issues most relevant to making their own farming businesses more profitable and productive, as it provided the tools to enable women to learn in a group environment whilst giving them the skills and encouragement to develop their own projects. 

The group called www or ‘Women Working Well’ was established, comprising of ten women and meeting monthly. Individual projects chosen by the women included life balance, succession planning, financial management and communication and relationships. In addition to specific projects, the group also participated in several combined learning activities including rural office management and healthy living. 

The group proved extremely successful in improving the lives and skills of its members, with a number commenting that the course had been one of the most significant learning events of their lives.

On a personal level, Lyn was in the process of undertaking two new training courses on personal growth and development, courses she believed she would develop new skills and new networks from. She also believed the Award increased both her self confidence and her own awareness of the vital role women play in all levels of rural development.


2005 Western Australia Runner-Up - Deborah Oberon

Certified Organic Skin Care

AT the time of the Award, Deborah Oberon was Managing Director of Elemental Skin Care, one of only two certified organic skin care businesses in Australia. 

Deborah began the business in 1995 in response to a growing concern over the toxicity of ingredients commonly used in the majority of skin care products, selling at hugely inflated retail prices. 

Deborah lives in Denmark in Western Australia, a ‘sea-change/tree-change’ town, comprising a population of middle class and educated people, but with limited viable employment options and a growing number of farms that are turning to organic farming methods. 

Her vision was to create a range of skin care products that are entirely natural and certified organic, based on ingredients sourced, where possible, from locally grown organic produce, and market these products at a price more reflective of the cost of producing them. In doing so she hoped to educate women as to the potential detrimental effects of products currently on the market, while creating real and interesting employment opportunities for local women and through her business new opportunities for organic farms in the region to expand and value add crops. 

Deborah achieved certification by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA) for her full range of Elemental Skin Care products, the first cosmetic business in Australia to do so, and was in the process of establishing markets internationally and domestically for her products. 

Deborah used her bursary to help finance the establishment of a website for the business, which helped in marketing her products domestically and internationally. 

The Award helped raised her profile and that of her business within her region, helped her establish valuable support networks with individuals and organizations, and led to numerous media opportunities that resulted in increased sales.  In the two year period from 2004 to 2006 Elemental Skin Care tripled its turnover and employed seven people.


2005 Tasmanian Runner-Up - Laura Richardson

Encouraging young people back into the rural sector

At the time of the Award Laura was immediate past President of Rural Youth Tasmania, one of the country’s most vibrant and active rural youth organizations. She was also elected to the Board of the national rural organization, Future Farmers Network. 

Her vision was to break down the stigma attached to agriculture and to encourage young people back into the rural sector, using the rural youth organization as the vehicle to effect the change. 

Her proposed activity involved travel to the United Kingdom and the United States to explore strategies employed by other rural youth based organizations to attract and retain young people in agriculture. 

While Laura was unable to complete her full activity she was able to travel to the United. She was able to meet and network with executive members of the National Federation of Young Farmer Clubs and exchange much relevant information. Information was also being collated and shared between exchanges from Australia, Canada and Wales.

She believes that volunteer organizations all confront issues involving membership retention, funding, and promotional requirements, and while there is not one solution, the sharing of experience and applications will be of benefit to all. 

Laura compiled a detailed report to Rural Youth Tasmania, that was shared and would have have implications for other Australian Rural Youth and like-minded organizations.


2005 Northern Territory Runner-up - Sarah Fea

Manage from the Ground Up

At the time of the Award, Sarah operated her own agricultural management consultancy based in Katherine.

Her vision was to find better management practices to combat major production issues such as disease, weed and insect pests and agriculture’s increasing reliance on fertilizers, through biological farming practices. 

Her objectives were to firstly obtain further practical knowledge and understanding of biological farming management systems, through attending a number of workshops and conferences. Secondly to gain the technical knowledge and accreditation required to analyse soil, without the support of southern based laboratories. And thirdly to utilize this acquired knowledge to assist community and industry development. 


Sarah in 2004 became an accredited Soil Food Web Advisor. In early 2005 Sarah attended a Compost and Compost Tea Making Course conducted by Elaine Ingham and a Light Microscope Course run by the Soil Food Web Institute laboratory in Lismore in NSW. She also attended in early 2005 the Compost Conference held in Brisbane and attended by international speakers from USA and Germany, who highlighted issues relevant to Australian agricultural production systems. In late 2005 Sarah also attended the ‘Benefits of Healthy Soil Systems Symposium’ in Bryon Bay in NSW. The symposium exposed her to a number of different tea brewing systems in action, to different techniques and choice of ‘foods’ and their biological results. 

At a personal level, attending these various activities gave Sarah greater confidence in her ability to assist producers, who are keen to follow the principles of biological farming and to explore potential local based product development initiatives. 

Sarah also worked with a cross section of different commodities to establish base line data on the ‘soil health’ under their current production systems. From this base line data, suitable management plans and a monitoring system on future impacts can be developed. She also worked with a number of producer groups aiming to develop holistic grazing management plants and weed management plans, utilizing soil biology monitoring as an indicator of their impact on biodiversity. 

Sarah was involved in a school-based project, developing a fact sheet on soil health and assisting in an interactive workshop with them at the Katherine Research Station. The workshop proved very rewarding to students in highlighting how food can be produced while working with nature. 

She believes the major and ongoing impact of the project will continue to be her ability to impart her skills and knowledge to individuals and to rural organizations she is involved with.



2004 New South Wales Runner-up - Lorroi Pagett

Promoting Dorpers as the Ultimate Meat Sheep Breed

At the time of the Award, Lorroi was a veterinarian and embryo transfer specialist by trade and one of the country’s most successful Dorper breeders. 

Her vision is to see Australian agricultural industries embrace the Dorper breed as a profitable and sustainable meat sheep alternative.

Lorroi focused her attention on promoting the breed and educating agriculture on its benefits.  She attended a number of agricultural field days and shows, including the National Field Days at Orange where she lectured for three days and the Nyngan Ag Expo where her educational displays won the Country Energy Award for Most Educational Exhibit. 

On a personal level, the Award was valuable in developing Lorroi’s confidence, leadership and public speaking skills, with the opportunity to participate and speak at a number of conferences including the Western Division Young Farmers Conference held in Broken Hill in September 2004, along with numerous media interviews. 

Lorroi’s on farm production sale in 2004 and National Dorper Sale saw averages close to triple that of the previous year. She and her husband also sold Dorpers into Brazil and America, with enquiry extending to India, Pakistan and other Asian countries. Her next project is to set up an Export Embryo Centre on farm.


2004 Victorian Runner-Up - Beverley Fisher

Riverview Juices Unlimited

Beverley Fisher is a third generation citrus grower from outside Cobram in northern Victoria and the brains behind “Riverview Juices”.

She instigated “Riverview Juices” in an effort to value add domestic citrus into fresh juices and gain a competitive advantage over cheap Brazilian imported juice.  The company was successfully selling juice into the local region and at Farmers markets, and was also selling oranges into local supermarkets.

Her vision was to grow the company ‘Riverview Juices Unlimited’ into a new range of value adding opportunities, including essential oils and alcoholic drinks, marmalades and dried fruits and to expand the number of growers supporting the venture. 

Beverley used the bursary to attend and speak at a number of conferences and to promote her products at a number of expos.  She regarded the invitation to speak at the Australian Citrus Growers Annual Conferences in Mildura as a major milestone in her career; as recognition of her achievements and commitment by her peers in her industry. 

She also gained valuable knowledge, skills and experience in exhibiting and in business management, as a result of attending the Successful Exhibiting at Expos Workshop at Bendigo. As a direct result of that workshop she was offered the opportunity to participate in the Melbourne Fine Food Show, where she was able to promote her product to a much wider and more sophisticated Melbourne audience.

2004 Queensland Runner-Up - Dee Dunham

The Farmstead Experience

At the time of the Award, Dee Dunham was Principal of Coolabine Goat Cheese Farmstead, one of only two farmstead’s producing goat milk cheese in Queensland.  Dee has taken out a number of prestigious awards, in recognition of the quality of her cheese, including the Maker of the Best Cheese at the 2003 Sydney Royal Easter Show. In addition she was awarded grand Champion Nubian Goat Breeder at the Brisbane Royal Show for five consecutive years and Grand Champion Cheese at the 2002 Brisbane Royal Show.  She is passionate about her goats and her cheese and in instilling in the general community an appreciation of rural and regional produce and the people its supports. 

Dee put her bursary towards the upgrade of cheese making equipment, including the pasteuriser and towards the promotion of the “Farmstead Experience’ workshop.  The “Farmstead Experience’ workshop is a one day workshop open to the general community and designed to impart skills and knowledge in the art of cheese making and an awareness of the importance of Australian rural industries and rural people. 

The equipment upgrade increased cheese production by up to 50 percent, while the workshops held the first and third Sunday of every month during production, attracted hundreds of people. 

Coolabine Goat Cheese Farmstead was part of the slow food movement and Dee’s biggest achievement for the year was to host the ‘Slow Food Spring Fair’ a celebration of rural lifestyle and slow cooked seasonal and regional produce. The inaugural event was a resounding success, attracting well over 1000 people, many from the city out for the day to experience the pleasures of rural Queensland.


2004 South Australia Runner-Up - Laura Fell

A Study into the Poultry Industries in the United Arab Emirates

Laura Fell is a contract chicken meat producer and has been actively involved in the South Australian chicken meat industry since the early 1990’s.  Laura, as a result of two trade delegations, became involved in furthering trade relations between Australia and Iraq, and in fostering new opportunities for Australian agricultural research and extension services and expertise. 

Laura planned to put the Bursary towards further travel to Iraq but this had to be abandoned due to the rapidly deteriorating security situation in that country. Instead she put the bursary towards a study tour of the poultry industries of the United Arab Emirates to learn from their table egg and chicken meat (broiler) industries, and their management of production, animal welfare, biosecurity and climate conditions, in an effort to encourage the greater adoption of Australian technologies and expertise. 

She visited two of the country’s major poultry companies, the Al Jazira Poultry farm and the Emirates Modern Poultry farm, where she met with senior management personnel and was briefed extensively on their operations.  She subsequently visited the UAE on two further occasions in 2004, studying in more detail a number of table egg laying facilities, breeder and broiler farmers, hatcheries and egg grading facilities and processing and packing plants. 

Laura gained unique insights into the UAE industries and how business is conducted in the region, along with access to high level contacts. These were insights and contacts that she believes facilitated improved relations between the two countries and led to the update of Australian technology and expertise.


2004 Western Australia Runner-up - Wendy Newman

Best Practice in Diversification and Value Adding

Wendy Newman was, amongst her numerous positions, Chair of the Wheatbelt Development Commission and Honorary Chair of the Heartlands Country Branding Group, a community driven group established to support producers involved in diversification and value adding. Wendy has long been concerned that the current emphasis in traditional broad acre farming, on production efficiencies, as a result of weather dependence and world trade, is putting enormous pressure on farmers, and forcing them to get big or get out. 

The ramifications she believes include, farm buyouts and a subsequent reduction in the number of farming families, economic imperatives overriding environmental and social ones, strong dependence on one industry translating to increased vulnerability to adverse weather and trade conditions and a culture of exporting rather than value adding leading to reduced industry development and job creation opportunities. 

Wendy believes that industries and individuals developing alternate approaches to agriculture that address the issues of community and environmental sustainability, as well as diversification of their economic base, need profiling and supporting.  Wendy used the bursary to examine world’s best practice in supporting diversified farming practices, regional branding and warehousing and distribution models in a rural context, along with the role rural women play in these activities.  Her project involved travel to regional areas, including Handorf and the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, and Wangaratta in Victoria, to view first hand successful regional branding and marketing processes along with attending the 2004 Australian Women in Agriculture National Conference. She visited six successful rural enterprises in total, including the Alexandria Cheese Company, Trout Farm, and Alpaca farm, Milawa Mustards, Bakery and Olive Shop.

Wendy identified the key critical success factors in diversifying and value adding all these businesses were passion, research and planning, common sense pragmatic approach to business, relationships, stringent supply chain and quality assurance control and strong market focus.  While the study tour did not resolve in any major way the issues confronting rural communities, as identified above, Wendy found the tour invaluable in expanding her networks and her exposure to other regional enterprises and branding initiatives.


2004 Tasmanian Runner-Up - Sandra Phythian

Developing Leadership and Providing Facilitation and Mentoring for the Seafood Industry

At the time of the Award, Sandra was Principal of Fisheries Business Consulting Australasia and worked as a business consultant to the seafood industry. She had been intrinsically involved in the industry, both nationally and in Tasmania, for more than a decade. 

Sandra’s vision is for a seafood industry that is ecologically and economically sustainable, that promotes healthy quality products and where its operators take more responsibility and deal more proactively with issues critical to the industry and its future viability. 

She used the bursary to undertaken higher training into coaching, communication and diversity, people development and conflict and leadership facilitation, teams and training, to better equip herself as a consultant, facilitator and mentor to others in her industry. 

Sandra used her newly acquired skills to positive effect. She voluntarily designed and ran a leadership development program for the Tasmanian seafood industry. She was in the development stages of a true leadership program for persons involved in primary industries in Tasmania and was also planning workshops in personal and business skills for women in primary industries across Australia.


2004 Northern Territory Runner-Up - Megan Connolly (Hoskins)

Investigating How to Encourage a Shift Towards Sustainable Agricultural Practices-A Quest for Rural Community Change.

At the time of the Award Megan Hoskins worked as an Entomology Research and Extension Officer with the Northern Territory government based at Katherine.  Megan is committed to biological farming, often described as fusion farming or the fusing of the best farming practices and technologies used in organic, biodynamic and conventional farming systems.  She has no doubt that sustainable farming practices need to be embraced by primary producers if the future sustainability of rural industries is to be assured. However to encourage the shift from proven conventional methods to unproven alternatives, she believes requires producers to witness the results of biological farming practices for themselves. 

Megan’s focus was on increasing her knowledge and understanding of the principles behind successful biological farming and becoming familiar with its tools and techniques, before sharing her knowledge and expertise with producers.  She attended relevant workshops, including the Nutri Tech Solutions four part seminar series in sustainable agriculture, which was held in Adelaide in July 2004.

The course was delivered in four parts - mineral management and microbe management, plant management and pest management. The take home message for Megan was that treating the symptoms does not necessarily mean you are treating the cause and the cause is often a nutrient imbalance rather than a pesticide deficiency. 

The second course was the Soil Food Web Interaction and Benefits to Plant Production, a three week course held at the Southern Cross University at Lismore. The course provided detailed theoretical instruction and practical skills in soil biology, soil chemistry and molecular biology.  The courses taught Megan a great deal about soil and plant health and that the two can combine to assist in the growing of healthier and more nutritionally balanced crops. 

Megan wrote an article for the local government newsletter - the Katherine Rural Review on biological farming and had considerable interaction with fellow workers, industry support staff and primary producers, and continued to help producers monitor pest pressure in their crops.  Two notable success stories include a mango grower and a legume hay producer, who both started  to reap the benefits of biological farming in terms of reduced pesticide dependence and healthier more profitable crops.



2003 New South Wales Runner-Up - Megan Mosely

At the time of the Award, Megan lived in the western division of New South Wales, where she and her husband ran the family property ‘Etiwanda Station’ outside Cobar. 

Megan’s vision is for agriculture and its people to better balance profitability with the environment and their lifestyles by embracing Holistic Management and is committed to developing ‘Etiwanda Station’ holistically and into a learning site for other producers and the betterment of the Western Division. 

Holistic Management is defined as a decision making process which provides a practical and total approach to economically, environmentally and socially managing the property. 

Megan put her $5,000 bursary towards a project to aid in the controlled grazing and resting of country on the station. The project provided for better control of a large area of the station to begin the process of regeneration. 

Megan believed that the project delivered a number of notable and obvious benefits including increased plant coverage, health and diversity, reduced worm burden, increased stock health, increased weaning percentages from younger stock, regeneration of edible scrub species and a reduction in bare unprofitable ground.


Victorian Runner-Up - Kaye Scholfield

Kaye’s focus has always been about promoting partnerships and supporting communities, as the means of ensuring future and sustainable rural industries.  At the time of the Award, she was a woolgrower from Victoria’s western division and Manager of the Community Partnerships Program at the RMIT University’s Hamilton campus.  Kaye, with the support of her bursary, set out to develop a community of practice along the wool pipeline, with the objective of building a culture of responsibility on the ecological impact of wool on our environment. 

She worked with focus groups and developed and launched a website, to continue discussion and debate on the issue and to make discussion accessible to all.

The website continued for 12 months, and during that period additional and relevant papers were added to it to further the debate. Kaye had a group of farmers looking to set up a network of producers supporting ecologically sound practices and was working with a respected fashion designer in an effort to bring their perspective to the debate. That perspective was considered vitally important because of predicted consumer trends towards environmentally sound products, and the move towards product responsibility.


2003 Queensland Runner-up - Teena Mammino

In 2003 Mammino Gourmet Icecreams took out the Queensland Primary Industries Award for Product Marketing along with the Central Queensland Southern Reef Tourism Awards for Retailing.

They also took out the four gold awards for their ice cream at the Royal Queensland Dairy Produce Awards (EDKKA) and Teena was named the Bundaberg Business Manager of the Year.  Her vision was to continue to grow the business, both domestically and, in the long term, overseas, and to provide alternate value added rural business and employment opportunities to the region. 

Her $5,000 bursary allowed Teena to attend the Ice-Cream Essentials Course at Griffith University in Melbourne in May 2002. This is the only course of its kind in teaching the fundamentals of ice cream manufacturing and is held only once a year.

Teena claimed the media coverage, community ownership, and profile the Award generated was nothing short of incredible. She presented at 32 events over the 12 month tenure. She also claimed a 20% increase in profit from the business over the following 18 months, as a direct result of her increased exposure. At the time of the Award, Mammino Gourmet Ice cream was stocked in over 50 outlets throughout Queensland and they were negotiating with Queensland Rail with a view to having their product sold on Queensland Rail.


2003 South Australian Runner-Up - Heather Burdon

Heather has worked in the livestock transport industry since the early 1970’s, operating with her husband a very successful livestock carrying business - Argyle Transport Pty Ltd - and has been an active member across numerous industry associations. 

She was instrumental in developing Truckcare, the quality management system for livestock transporters and for the six years prior to the Award had been Promotions Officer for Truckcare on behalf of the Australian Livestock Transporters Association. Truckcare aims to raise awareness and assist its members improve their individual businesses, their animal welfare practices and customer relations.

Heather put her $5,000 bursary towards the publication of a Booklet titled ‘Together Everyone Achieves More’ (TEAM).  The booklet highlights the roles and responsibilities of each party in the livestock supply chain, in ensuring best practice in animal welfare and livestock loading, while promoting a collaborative approach across the chain.  10,000 copies of the book were printed and distributed throughout saleyard venues, transport operators, stock and station agents and farmers organizations offices and relevant conferences.


2003 Western Australia Runner-Up - Suzanne Woods

For Suzanne Woods the Award brought her face to face with potential new customers and potential new markets for her specialty flour. Her farm produces its own line of soft wheat flour, Emdavale Farm Flour, which is sold both domestically in Western Australia and overseas.  Suzanne’s vision for agriculture is to offer alternate and value adding opportunities to grain growers to allow them to diversify their economic base from traditional farming.

She put her $5,000 bursary towards travel both to the eastern states and overseas. The study tour of the eastern states covered Melbourne, Canberra, Young, Parkes, and Narromine, meeting with flour millers and the food service sector and growing her knowledge and contacts within the industry.

The Singapore trip centred on exhibiting her flour product at the Food Hotel Asia expo. Singapore was previously identified by Austrade as one of the most likely export markets for her flour. As a result of the trip, new contacts were made and product samples delivered, with the prospect of new customers.


Tasmanian Runner-Up - Christine Mann

Christine is the first female to graduate with a Degree in Surveying from the University of Tasmania, complemented with a Graduate Diploma in Surveying Practice in Queensland. 

At the time of the Award she operated her own business, providing expertise on Geographical Information Systems (GIS), aerial photography and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to a variety of industries, including her passion, agriculture and has worked on the use of aerial photography and GPS’ s as management tools for rural enterprises.

She directed her bursary towards developing and marketing low altitude aerial photography/computer mapping packages for agricultural enterprises and undertaking a pilot project to demonstrate the benefits of global positioning and mapping technology in agricultural enterprises. 

She also completed a number of training courses relevant to her project, including a Certificate 1V Assessment & Workplace Training (TAFE Tasmania) and a Small Business Management Course (TAFE Tasmania). Christine says the $5,000 bursary allowed her to undertake training that she would otherwise have found difficult to justify and to purchase equipment to progress her vision.



2002 New South Wales Runner-up - Ruth Quigley

Ruth and her family run a mixed farming operation incorporating wheat and cotton, cattle and olives. At the time of the Award she also owned and operated her own information technology and web development business, servicing a number of rural clients, including the NSW Rural Counselling Service and the stud merino outfit Haddon Rig.

Ruth’s vision is for agriculture to continue to strive to improve in farming and in business and to promote its achievements through the sharing of information and knowledge. 

Central to her proposed activity was the development of a website - - to enhance the sharing of information, ideas and even job opportunities within the cotton industry. The site had the potential to act as a portal for those who want to reach the Australian cotton industry and to showcase Australian cotton products to the world. 

With the site up and running, Ruth sees its potential as a one stop information and networking shop for the whole cotton industry, its numerous organisations and growers.

2002 New South Runner-up - Sandra Doyle

Sandra and her husband own and operate a goat stud, comprising of 200 Boer full blood and cross bred goats.  At the time of the Award, they had spent the previous four years building up their herd and establishing a goat meat cooperative targeting the restaurant trade. Their professionalism was evidenced by their first place position at the 2000 Sydney Royal Easter Show in the Hoof and Hook Competition.

Sandra’s vision was to improve the quality and consistency of goat meat to a standard comparable to that of the sheep and beef industries and suitable for the high value restaurant trade.

Her proposed activity involved developing a training program encompassing the production of consistently high quality animals through to the effective marketing of the meat to the restaurant trade.  The project, Sandra believes, opens up huge opportunities for rural women to put to use their under- utilized skills and talents.


2002 Victorian Runner-up - Tracey Delbridge

Tracey’s career focus has been on sustainable resource management. She has facilitated and coordinated a number of natural resource management programs including Waterwatch, Junior Landcare and Coast Action. 

At the time of the Award she owned and operated a small eco-tourism business, Moonbird Tours, which focused on interpretation of the natural environment, indigenous culture, ecology and education. She was also a field officer for Greening Australia for the south west region of Victoria. Her vision is for all to appreciate and value the natural resource and to actively take part in its management and sustainability. 

She intended to undertake an internship at the Institute of Earth Education at Cedar Cove, Greenville in America and planned to facilitate a series of active community and industry workshops designed to enthuse, motivate and revitalise community and industry education programs.

She hoped to support the delivery of catchment education programs by offering innovative styles based on integrating ‘Earth Education’ ethics and current catchment education program goals. The purchase of a mobile education trailer would assist Moonbird Tours in the facilitation of the ‘river-sea-land’ program, a program designed to integrate catchment management issues through interactive education programs, that involved bringing living ecosystems to regionally isolated communities throughout the state.

2002 Victorian Runner-up - Joanne Butterworth-Gray

At the time of the Award Joanne and her husband owned and operated a fruit and berry farm that they value added into an epicuran centre complete with restaurant and accommodation. 

She was a member of the Victorian Food Advisory Group and Gippsland Women in Business and a Board member and Marketing Chairperson for Gippsland Agribusiness. 

Joanne established the Gippsland Epicurean Network and a dedicated website: This followed a feasibility study that confirmed the significant opportunities for agribusiness in promoting and marketing produce through a regional network. The network and  website  promotes and facilitates sales of Gippsland’s specialty agriculture produce, while achieving economies of scale for its producers.

Joanne’s vision was to realise Gippsland as a sustainable agribusiness centre offering employment and business opportunities for rural women based on a regional food brand for its raw and value added products. 

She planned to further develop the project, by identifying new agricultural producers and suppliers, stronger networking and marketing effort and investigations into new domestic and international sales outlets and markets.


2002 Queensland Runner-up - Sonya Maley

At the time of the Award, Sonya and her husband owned and operated a permaculture and bamboo farm in northern Queensland. Her farm was in part self-sufficient and fully self-sustaining through access to remote area power supply water from adjacent World Heritage listed forests.

Sonya’s vision is to grow the bamboo industry into an innovative and viable long term sustainable primary industry for northern Australia.

Bamboo is an extremely versatile crop. It is unique in its production of a vigorous and annually renewable source of biomass for fibre, fuel and food applications including renewable energy, standard building materials and can also be used in bioremediation applications and carbon credits.

Sonya undertook extensive research and on-farm trials of bamboo, and established a Steering Committee to investigate the future feasibility of the industry. 

Her proposed activity focused on information transfer of simple bamboo farming techniques and future directions for the industry through a video production. The video would equip primary producers with the knowledge they need to consider bamboo as a viable alternative and give them the practical skills to undertake their new venture. The video would be produced as a result of a study tour of the east coast from northern NSW to far north Queensland.

2002 Queensland Runner-up - Suzanne Nation

Suzanne returned to the family farm, which she purchased, and diversified from its traditional livestock and cropping enterprises into wine grapes and olives. 

In 2001 she signed contracts with Greening Australia and Land for Wildlife, effectively committing close to half the farm to nature conservation and integration with other land management practices.

Suzanne was Secretary of the Central Downs Branch of the Queensland Rural Women’s Network and an Executive Committee Member of the Queensland Vine Improvement Association.

Her vision was for a new agricultural industry in the establishment of a wine based herbal beverage from early stage reject wine grapes.

She believed there was the opportunity to develop a whole new niche industry from what is currently regarded as a waste product of the wine industry.

Suzanne planned as a first step to develop her skills and knowledge of the wine industry and its people, and experiment further with the potential of this new beverage.


2002 South Australia Runner-up - Susan Berlin

At the time of the Award, Susan and her husband owned and operated the largest sheep dairy in Australia, milking around 300 sheep and producing some 16 tonnes of cheese and 34 tonnes of yogurt a year.  The company, Island Pure, was involved in the total supply chain, from managing the sheep, to milking, right through to processing, packaging and marketing sheep cheese and yogurt throughout Australia. 

At the time of the Award, Susan was Chair of Agriculture Kangaroo Island, a group committed to the future viability and sustainability of primary industries on the Island.  

Susan’s vision is to expand the sheep dairy industry and its value added potential and provide employment opportunities and an alternate enterprise for rural Australia.  Her proposed activity was to gain much needed IT computer training with the intent of developing a computer program that will work on weighting the significant influencing parameters behind milk volume. 

Her activity involved the collection of data on various performance indicators from each animal, assessment of those indicators for both economic influence and genetic heritability, and the development of a computer program ranking individual animals and their economic performance.

2002 South Australia Runner-up - Carol Johnson

At the time of the Award, Carol was manager of the Millicient Stock Saleyards and was the only female stock saleyard manager in Australia. Under her leadership, throughput at the saleyard increased by 28 percent, while prices commanded were the highest in South Australia. 

Carol achieved major milestones for the yards, including accreditation for quality assurance under the National Saleyards Quality Assurance Ltd (one of only three yards nationally to achieve this status), accreditation for SLEPP (Saudi Livestock Export Preparation Procedures) and accreditation for the European Union, with the yards boasting a bull selling ring and nine buyers’ cattle delivery pens.  She was awarded the Notable Achievement for Excellence in Saleyard Management and Service, by the Livestock Transport Association of South Australia Inc. 

Carol’s vision was to motivate other women to get involved in the industry and to lift the image of saleyards as a venue for livestock exchanges. She proposed to write a book, a warts-and-all account of her experiences as a Saleyard Manager, taking into account some of the momentus times for the industry and its people. The book, she hoped, would encourage other women to enter this field of work, while educating men on some of the difficulties women face in this industry.


2002 Western Australia Runner-up - Tracey Elbert

Tracey is a partner in a mixed farming operation, specialising in coarse grains, wool and prime lamb production. She spends a significant part of her time marketing their produce through markets such as wheat futures. At the time of the Award she was also Chair of the newly formed Fitzgerald Biosphere Marketing Association (FBMA).

Biospheres are defined as areas of unique biological diversity, where people work in harmony with their environment. They are internationally recognised within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere program.  The FBMA was established to develop a recognised regional brand to encourage the community to responsibly produce and market edge agricultural products. Tracey, on behalf of FBMA, was asked to present to the 5th International Fair of the Rural World, to be held in Sicily, Italy. 

Tracey’s vision was to utilise the region’s greatest asset, its biosphere status and its great produce, to ensure the future viability of the region and its farming community. She also sees marketing and value adding opportunities for women through this initiative. 

She proposed to undertake study tours to two successful biospheres, the Bookmark Biosphere in South Australia and the Rhon Biosphere in Germany, to learn from their experiences, setbacks and successes. The knowledge she acquired would then be fed back through a series of regional workshops and subsequent marketing and brand promotion.

2002 Western Australia Runner-up - Pamela Williamson

Pamela has been an active partner in a mixed farming operation for more than thirty years, during which time she has also had a heavy involvement with rural women and rural and remote education.

In 1997, Pamela was elected as a Councillor to the Shire of Kondinin and served as Deputy President. It was the first time a woman had held an Executive position in 75 years. As part of the Council role, Pamela was involved with the management of the Hyden-Karlgarin Landcare group and was inaugural President of the Shire of Kondinin Bush Heritage Committee. 

Pamela’s vision was to overcome the odds of prices, seasonal fluctuations and the major environmental challenges of salinity and ensure the continued viability of the family farm. 

Her proposed activity involved farming fish in a natural bush setting with the saline water being ponded and dried to become stock and table salt. The project she envisaged could be expanded to include rural tourism opportunities and demonstration sites incorporating solar and wind energy and recycled products. 

She saw this project developing not only into an opportunity to solve one of the region’s major environmental problems, but as a major education tool, an alternate income source for rural women and the region’s farming families and as a major recreational site for those wishing to enjoy bush living at its best.


2002 Tasmanian Runner-up - Christine Mann

Christine is the first female to complete a Degree in Surveying at the University of Tasmania, complimented by a Graduate Diploma in Surveying Practice in Queensland. Following the completion of her degree, she developed a geographical information system for the Launceston City Council, an Australian Rural Youth Study Tour to Switzerland and held the position of Chief Surveyor for North Forest Products. 

At the time of the Award, she had been operating her own business, providing expertise on Geographical Information Systems (GIS), aerial photography and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to a variety of industries, including her passion, agriculture. 

Christine has been a very active member of Rural Youth Tasmania and has held a number of key positions at Agfest, Tasmania’s premier field day event. Her vision is for every Tasmanian farming enterprise to have access to a fully integrated land management system that allows farmers to make informed decisions using leading edge technology. 

Her proposed activity involved developing and marketing low altitude aerial photography/computer mapping packages for agricultural enterprises, while undertaking a pilot project to demonstrate the benefits of global positioning technology to agriculture.

Christine believes this technology offers agriculture huge benefits, with accurate and relevant information allowing farmers to better embrace opportunities and increase productivity.


2002 Northern Territory Runner-up - Beverley Wilson

Beverley has been involved in the pastoral industry in the Northern Territory since the early 1980’s and works with her husband on the family property.  She is very interested in feral animal control and has been involved in buffalo control and management through the Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign.

Beverley’s vision for agriculture is to utilise all of its resources including its feral animals, while preserving the biodiversity of the environment.

She is very concerned about the feral pig problem in the Territory and the resultant destruction of the environment. She sees opportunities in the pigmeat industry for rural women.

Beverley’s proposed activity was to coordinate the Territory’s pigmeat trade by setting up the physical infrastructure to collect, grow and slaughter pigs, coupled with a major marketing campaign to secure sales for the meat.



2001 New South Wales Runner-up - Barbara Nutthall

At the time of the Award, Barbara with her husband and two sons ran a wool, prime lamb and cereal crop production operation north-west of Young, on the South West slopes of New South Wales. In 1998 she realised an opportunity for her to diversify the family’s enterprise into geese production and was actively involved in the establishment of a goose breeding venture.

While the demand for geese meat and other products was strong, with a market estimated at about 20,000 geese a year, the industry was still in its very formative stages, with poor egg fertility rates the major factor currently limiting the industry’s future expansion. 

Barbara’s vision was for a viable and environmentally friendly enterprise, not only for her own property, but the opportunity of a new venture for other rural women and a new and prosperous industry for rural Australia. She planned to travel overseas, to Taiwan, America, France, Ireland and the UK, to study first hand from the breeding and management practices of more established industries, government agencies and research institutions and translate that knowledge back into her own venture and into the Australian industry.

2001 New South Wales Runner-up - Linda Duffy

At the time of the Award, Linda worked as Rural Financial Counsellor based at Hay in the Western Riverina of NSW. Her initial appointment to the position came as a result of the mid 1990’s devastating drought, but the demand for financial analysis and emotional support from rural people continued. She was seriously concerned by the somewhat negative attitude and outlook by rural communities, particularly from its more senior members. 

Her vision for the future of agriculture was for its people to be positive, to restore pride and confidence in what they do, to inspire other industries and to inject vigor into their communities.

She proposed to establish an Intergenerational Exchange, to better value and utilise the wealth of knowledge and experience of the community’s more senior members, in an effort to reinvigorate rural people and their communities and to provide support for younger members of rural communities to encourage them in their enterprises. The first step was the establishment of a pilot focus group to drive the Exchange and prioritise the issues critical to the local community.


2001 Victoria Runner-up - Jo Gardner

At the time of the Award, Jo owned and operated Gardner Herbs Australia, one of the country’s largest brokers, processors, propogators and wildcrafters of medicinal and culinary herbs. Her business was the largest supplier of domestically grown dry medicinal herbs in Australia with over 300 growers supplying dried and fresh products annually. She has a deep concern about the exodus of young people and the subsequent impact on the sustainability of regional communities. 

In 2000 Jo was elected to the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority and was its representative to Wimmera 2020, a committee dedicated to investigating sustainable development within the region. 

Jo completed a Diploma in Business Management - International Trade, which she found to be extremely rewarding, in terms of the opportunities, networks and mentors the course opened to her. 

Her vision was for a sustainable future for agriculture and rural communities, by recognising and rewarding the contribution of its rural youth. Jo was committed to being a catalyst, by offering her services to encourage young people into the Diploma or like training, to improve their self-esteem and future career opportunities and by doing so help reinvigorate rural communities.

2001 Victorian Runner-up - Lisa Jarvis

The major part of Lisa’s career has been as a youth and community development worker in metropolitan and regional Victoria. She returned to the family farm, 40 acres of which remains of the original farm that has been held in her family for three generations. 

Since returning to Bambra, Lisa established ‘Kyah Initiatives’, a project management and development consultancy that utilises operating frameworks focusing upon people, environment and culture.

Lisa’s vision is for a sustainable future for agriculture, for regional communities and for its people and in particular its youth.

Her vision for sustainable agriculture involved the creation of the Kyah Valley Niche Agriculture and Sustainable Culture Demonstration Farm.

The Kyah Valley Project aimed to demonstrate sustainable enterprises and niche market opportunities, which utilise and develop agricultural and enterprise practices that encourage biodiversity, and environmental and ethical soundness.

The farm would offer employment and enterprises opportunities, particularly for young people in regional communities, while acting as a valuable research and education resource through the stringent documentation of all activities and technologies.

Lisa’s passion is the creation of community through the development of sustainable and dynamic approaches to creating opportunities for learning, interaction and enterprise.


South Australia Runner-up - June Gill

At the time of the Award June had been actively involved in the SA marine scale fishing industry, at the grass roots, for the past thirty years. Over 2001-2001 June had established an export facility for whole chilled marine scale fish for export direct into the Japanese market. 

June was the founding Chair of the Women’s Industry Network, a network developed in South Australia in 1996 which grew into a national body known as the Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community and currently holds the position of Chair. She conducted numerous workshops and wrote as many articles, all with the aim of encouraging and empowering women in the seafood industry to participate in its decision making at both local and state levels.

She was also voluntary Project Officer for the Marine Scale Net Fisheries Association, where she was responsible for developing the industry’s Code of Practice, covering environmental and resource management, and handling and compliance standards. She was also the first female observer to sit on the South Australian Fishing Industry Council and was a member of the Rural Women’s Advisory Group and was a steering group member of the Commonwealth Fisheries Policy Review.

June’s vision for her industry, the Marine Scale Fishing Industry, was to secure for its fishing families, the best dollar for quality product through both the domestic and international market, while preserving the catch quantity. She firmly believes that returns can be significantly improved through value adding and smarter marketing, through the development of the Adelaide Central Fish Market into a Central Market Co-operative. She believes the SA Co-operative in turn will provide new post harvest value adding with a South Australian brand and greater marketing opportunities, to grow the industry domestically and internationally.

June planned to undertake a study tour of domestic and international fish marketing centres, as the first course of action to assessing world’s best practice. A paper was to be written on her experience which would provide a working link to a SA Steering group. June and this group would then work towards her longer term vision of the establishment of a world class SA Fish Market Co-operative.

2001 South Australia Finalist - Tracy Warland

Tracy is recognised as a pioneer and an international authority on seahorses, having undertaken extensive research and trial work into seahorses. She was one of the first in Australia to be granted the right to breed and harvest seahorses and now has permits to breed six species of seahorse, two species of pipefish and the weedy sea dragon. 

At the time of the Award Tracy owned and operated one of only four seahorse farms worldwide and mainland Australia’s first captive bred seahorse breeding facility, supplying seahorses to the world’s aquarium market.

Her vision is to protect the wild catch seahorse from extinction, through education along with captive breeding programs such as her own. Tracy’s ambition was to establish a public aquarium interpretive centre for seahorses and associated species. 

She sees the centre as not only a powerful educational tool, but a huge tourism resource for Australia and the region of Port Lincoln. The first step to achieving her vision was to undertake a feasibility study into the new venture. The centre she envisaged would include a public display, a captive breeding program and further down the track an interpretive and cultural centre.


2001 Western Australia Runner-up - Janette O'Keefe

Dr O’Keefe is a veterinary practitioner, and at the time of the Award worked from her farm to service a client base of some 5,000 farmers and others in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. Janette serviced her clients by phone and on farm visits, and extended her practise to incorporate a website to provide for online consulting and eventually visual and audio support, a public database and online discussions.

Janette strongly believes in environmental medicine and in preventative and early intervention practices and works with her clients to adopt animal management practices that reduce the risks to their animals and the costs of veterinary support. In addition to her own practice and supporting her husband on the farm and piggery, Janette was heavily involved in a number of community initiatives.

She was one of the instigators of the Kukerin Enterprise Group, a community self-help group, committed to promoting and supporting the region’s tourism and commercial businesses. She also provided veterinary and other support to numerous regional events, including the Wagin Woolaramma, the Pingrup Races and the Kulin Bush Races. 

Her personal vision was two-fold. To have a cost effective and sustainable farming sector, which employs environmentally sound practices and a sustainable and vibrant regional community. She believes for the farm sector to be sustainable, so too must the regional community, that the two go hand in hand and must support each other to survive.

To achieve her vision for the farm sector, Janette planned to expand her business, particularly online, to ensure her farm’s viability and through the establishment of a traineeship, act as an example to others of the opportunities to expand and diversify a commerical business in the bush.

To achieve her vision for her regional community, she intended to, through the Kukerin Enterprise Group, develop a campaign that promotes the region and fosters new commercial initiatives, while encouraging an environment of community spirit and participation by all including their vital youth.

2001 Western Australia Runner-up - Pamela Lincoln

Pamela originally trained as a dietitian and community nutritionist and worked in the city, but chose to live the rest of her life in regional Western Australia as a primary producer. She changed careers, having completed her Wine Science degree in 1999 and undertaking additional study in Integrated Pest Management, Nutrition and Water Management for Grapevines. In 1997 Pam and her husband began establishing a wine grape vineyard on the outskirts of Albany and in 2001 enjoyed their first harvest. 

Pam is a firm believer in the importance of a healthy vibrant rural sector to the rest of Australia, its people and the overall economy. She believes there is an acute lack of awareness in the general community about the quality and variety of produce we grow and has taken every opportunity to promote the produce of her region. Her vision was all about recognition, acknowledging and valuing the food, wine and people of the southern region of Western Australia and instilling in the general community a food culture and a pride in our produce and primary producers. 

She planned to produce a high quality publication, featuring stories and photographs of the people and produce of the region, while putting the southern region of Western Australia on the world food culture map. The book will be aligned with the values of the international association, ‘Slowfood’ and will focus on the diversity and innovation in agriculture.


2001 Tasmania Runner-up - Anne Heazlewood

Anne and her husband operate the family businesses of Heazlewood Farming and Heazlewood Seeds. They have been farming in the district of Whitemore since 1823 and Anne’s children will become the sixth generation to farm.  Their farming enterprise is centred around small seed production, with perennial ryegrass being the main cultivar, in rotation with green peas, opium poppies and cereals. The enterprise also produces English and Border Leicester sheep for flock ram production. 

Heazlewood Seeds cleans processes and exports a range of seeds from their farm and surrounding farms and also controls the production, processing and exporting of Tasmanian buckwheat to Japan for high quality noodle production. 

At the time of the Award Anne was an active member of Tasmanian Women in Agriculture and Secretary and Administrator of Peam’s Steam World Management Trust Committee. Her vision was to see agriculture remain a viable and sustainable business so that future generations will be encouraged to enter the industry. 

Her ambition was to increase the diversity within her operations and create a new enterprise in the briquetting of hay and straw, while minimising the environmental impact of the seed weed offal by its value adding into briquetts. She planned to travel to Europe to investigate briquetting machines and markets, with the view to establishing markets both domestically and overseas for both the offal and hay and straw. 

Anne believed that this initiative, an Australian first, will pave the way for the seed clean industry to achieve an economically attractive product from what is currently regarded as the industrys’ biggest environmental problem.

2001 Tasmanian Runner-up - Jodie Epper

At the time of the Award Jodie was employed as the Bushcare Extension Officer with Greening Australia. Her work involved the delivery of the Land for Wildlife Program and Bushcare Extension Services to rural communities across the state.

Jodie executed numerous Bushcare restoration projects, managed the Landcare Environment Action Program, volunteer groups and facilitated group and individual education sessions at Agfest. She produced a training manual, the Land for Wildlife Procedures Manual, which will provide the foundation for farmer training and education throughout the state. 

Jodie’s vision was for nature conservation to be an integral and valued part of every agricultural enterprise throughout the state, by establishing a mechanism that rewards farmers for their environmental efforts. She believes that in the future there will be an increasing consumer demand for food that is produced using environmentally sustainable practices. 

She also believes there will be exciting opportunities for producers to not only gain access to high value international markets, but reduce the negative impacts of some current land management practices, by incorporating nature conservation into their enterprises. Jodie planned to undertake research both here and overseas, to determine the possible mechanisms and the market needs and demands.


2001 Northern Territory Runner-up - Miriam Golding

Miriam is a pioneer in the rapidly expanding Northern Territory horticultural industry. She is a grassroots mango grower, who with her husband, developed from scratch their mango orchard outside Katherine. At the time of the Award, she was a partner in their central packhouse facility based off farm, which traded under the ‘Katherine Gorgeous Mangoes’ label and offered a picking, packing and marketing service to over 50 growers in the Katherine region.

Miriam is deeply committed to rural women and their advancement and has served on the Board of the Australian Women in Agriculture. She has also held an executive position on the NT Horticultural Association as the President of the Katherine branch and was involved in the national advisory group with the HRDC Women in Horticulture program.

Her vision for agriculture was to develop a sustainable industry based on profits while showing a healthy respect for the environment and the family farm, which she believes is the building block for rural communities. 

With production of mangoes in the Northern Territory set to double, Miriam saw the development of the export market as critical to their business and to the future viability of the industry. She also believed it was essential to expand the varieties of mangoes available to meet the different market requirements in various locations. With this in mind, Miriam set about grafting and planting a selection of mango varieties, including R2E2 and Honey Gold, to compliment their established orchard of the traditional Kensington Pride Mangoes. 

She planned to explore export market opportunities for mangoes in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, seeking out first hand their product, packaging and market requirements. Miriam planned to undertake an overseas study tour in two parts, firstly Asia including Hong Kong and China and Singapore, before travelling to the Middle East and Europe to coincide with the arrival of NT mangoes into those markets.

2001 Northern Territory Runner-up - Katrina Tucker

At the time of the Award Katrina had been researching, trialling and producing exotic spices in the Territory for over a decade. Her tenacity and dedication to this new and emerging industry has made her an authority in the Territory in her field.

At the time of the Award Barramond Tropical Fruits and Exotic Spice Farm had been in operation for ten years and played a major role in the development of industry’s quality assurance, food quality and food safety standards.

Katrina marketed exotic spices on a weekly basis interstate and primarily through an agent into the Sydney market. She is also commited to rural women and to ensuring their financial independence, through the production of exotic spices which provide a regular and reliable income. She was elected the Northern Territory President of Australian Women in Agriculture.

She regularly held open days and field days on her farm to share her knowledge and experience and was available for industry training through the Northern Territory University’s Horticulture Department.

Katrina’s vision was to see her industry grow through the creation of new markets and to provide for rural women a new commerical enterprise that develops their skills and resources and offers them financial independence. She planned to grow her industry and act as a catalyst to encouraging new growers through the production and promotion of a exhaustive and practical guide to the spice industry.

She also planned to purchase and install the necessary apparatus for the distillation of essential oils, expanding the capacity of not only her own operation but the industry in the Northern Territory.


2000 New South Wales Runner-up – Sue McGinn OAM

2000 New South Wales Runner-up – Margaret Taylor
2000 Victoria Runner-up – Alison Brinson
2000 Victoria Runner-up – Jo Gardner
2000 Queensland Runner-up – Janet Campbell
2000 Queensland Runner-up – Kerrie Richards
2000 South Australia Runner-up – Jaylene Fuge
2000 Western Australian Runner-up - Shelley Birch
2000 Western Australia Runner-up – Anne Jennings
2000 Tasmania Runner-up – Jane Allwright
2000 Tasmania Runner-up – Anne Heazlewood
2000 Northern Territory Runner-up – Terry Underwood