Farm­ers unite to share their sto­ries

Catch­ing up and shar­ing knowl­edge

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Weather | In­side - . AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

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.

PHO­TOS: AN­DREA DAVY

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.

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