Farmers unite to share their stories
Catching up and sharing knowledge
THE big issues were hot on the agenda at the Australian Women In Agriculture Conference.
Speakers discussed pathways for women to gain board and leadership positions, practical steps to improve farm safety and gave advice on handling high-stakes contract negotiations.
But according to Australian Women in Agriculture vice-president Aileen O’Sullivan, the social side of the Brisbane weekend conference was just as important.
“I am just really looking forward to networking with women from all around Australia who have a shared interest,” she said.
“We all have our own stories... and we can learn from each other by sharing those stories.”
Aileen grew up on a farm, became a school teacher, than returned to her roots, marrying a farmer in central Victoria. Along with their sons, the family is running a robust business that includes production of lucerne hay, dry-land cropping, a contract hay business and a dairy.
She is proud to call herself a farmer.
“I think we are seeing a resurgence in the recognition
of women’s role in agriculture,” she said.
“In the past I think women were happy to be supportive, but now I think they are ready to lift their profile and to be recognised for their contribution to agriculture and food production in Australia.”
Aileen was among the ladies who toured the Food Connect business in Brisbane, which started off three days of conference activities at the weekend.
Women had travelled from Western Australia and Tasmania to attend the event.
“And we have ladies from Alice Springs, and have representatives from Papua New Guinea,” she said.
Aileen stressed that mentoring was a vital tool in retaining young people in agriculture.
“This is a career, you have to view it as a career,” she said. “It’s really important you have someone you can go to for advice.”
When asked who her mentor was she was able to point across the room, to a cherry farmer from Victoria.
“Australian women in ag provides those opportunities... the board members on AWIA are all amazing; we draw on their strength, knowledge and enthusiasm for the industry – it’s infectious.”
CATCHING UP: Lauren Peterson, Emma Addinsall and Anna Lottkowitz at the AWIA Conference.
PLATED UP: Food Connect had a spread of locally grown food for morning tea.
Maxie Dominic, from PNG, with Jade Miles.
Charlie Aves from Victoria and Kate Peters from the Sunshine Coast.
Dimi Kyriakou and Jasmine Witten at the Australian Women in Agriculture Conference.
AWIA’s Aileen O'Sullivan with Tanya Cameron.
Jess Brown and Melinda Mazzarella from Rural Bank Victoria.
Kim Lane, Tash Johnston, Amy Wicks and Jenny Gailey at the AWIA conference.
Apprentice pastry chief Nattassia Georgetown organised the spread of food at the event.