Speak­ing up for dairy women

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS -

When Kata­matite dairy farmer Si­mone Ross went to Can­berra as part of the De­vel­op­ing Dairy Lead­ers Pro­gram, she never ex­pected to get a front row seat to a lead­er­ship spill.

The tu­mul­tuous week of pol­i­tics, which saw thenTrea­surer Scott Mor­ri­son be­come Prime Min­is­ter, was the back­drop for the trip in which 14 par­tic­i­pants — from farm­ers, busi­ness man­agers and ex­port sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives — pre­sented a se­ries of projects to politi­cians and depart­ment heads.

The cul­mi­na­tion of two months of work­shops, re­search and in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the first gen­er­a­tion dairy farmer, who milks 300 cows on a 259 ha prop­erty, said the fo­cus of her re­search project was one close to her

Dairy Aus­tralia in­dus­try ca­pa­bil­ity de­vel­op­ment pro­gram man­ager Be­linda Grif­fiths (left) and Aus­tralian Dairy Farm­ers pres­i­dent Terry Richard­son cel­e­brate Si­mone Ross’ grad­u­a­tion from the pro­gram. heart — fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion in dairy.

‘‘Only 25 per cent of lead­er­ship po­si­tions are filled by women, and some of those are mul­ti­ple po­si­tions filled by the same woman,’’ Ms Ross said.

‘‘It’s a hard sec­tor to break into.’’

Hav­ing had ex­pe­ri­ence her­self be­ing the only woman in the room, Ms Ross said it was im­por­tant to en­sure women are en­cour­aged to en­ter lead­er­ship po­si­tions at all lev­els — not just the top.

‘‘It can lead any­where. You can be the mid­dle­man and do a lot of pro­gres­sive stuff do­ing it the right way,’’ she said.

It was a thought and a pas­sion that she took with her to Can­berra, dis­cussing the is­sue in depth with Queens­land Sen­a­tor Pauline Han­son, who was in­vited as Ms Ross’ guest to the pro­gram’s main func­tion.

Given the na­ture of her project, Ms Ross said it was only right to in­vite an­other woman to hear her per­spec­tive on the is­sue, and she added she was left thrilled with the level of sup­port her project re­ceived.

With the sup­port of her men­tor, for­mer Vic­to­ria Po­lice chief com­mis­sioner Chris­tine Nixon, Ms Ross has also pre­sented her find­ings to both Aus­tralian Dairy Farm­ers and Dairy Aus­tralia, who sup­ported the pro­gram.

‘‘The ADF are look­ing to de­velop a task­force to ad­dress fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion,’’ Ms Ross said.

‘‘The doors that the pro­gram has opened up are in­cred­i­ble.’’

ADF pres­i­dent Terry Richard­son en­cour­aged young farm­ers to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram as a path­way to be­com­ing in­dus­try ad­vo­cates.

‘‘The DDLP is an im­por­tant step in teach­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives how to chan­nel their pas­sion for dairy into ef­fec­tive ad­vo­cacy,’’ Mr Richard­son said.

‘‘Many of the par­tic­i­pants came to the pro­gram with lit­tle or no ex­po­sure to dairy ad­vo­cacy, but they have now pre­sented and de­bated ideas, gained pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment and learned how to man­age per­sonal and work pri­or­i­ties.’’

Ul­ti­mately, Ms Ross said she hoped for a stronger dairy in­dus­try, where dairy farm­ers — men and women — could be as­sured they would get a fair go.

Tak­ing the lead . . . Par­tic­i­pants from the De­vel­op­ing Dairy Lead­ers Pro­gram trav­elled to Can­berra to meet politi­cians in­clud­ing Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud (front cen­tre) and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Michael McCor­mack (far left).

Ex­chang­ing notes . . . For­mer deputy prime min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce and Si­mone Ross en­joy a chat.

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