Why Mrs Oz is fighting for farmers
AS a teacher who gave birth to her second child just last weekend, Leila Sweeney-McDougall believes she’s proof the Mrs International beauty pageant is not just about looks.
She will represent Australia at the annual event in West Virginia, in the United States, in August and intends to use her appearance to raise awareness of the challenges facing farmers.
“Me winning Mrs Australia proves it is not just a beauty pageant, it is about more than that, with what we are doing,” the 29-year-old said.
She and husband Sean have set up the charity Live Rural, which works with the National Centre for Farmer Health.
“There are people that enter these pageants as serial entrants, they don’t really do anything for their platform, but this is all about working with your charity and making a difference,” Ms Sweeney- McDougall said. She has also contacted various American charities who have a similar mission. She hopes to connect with these charities when she is in the US.
“With farming there is always something, there’s either a flood or a drought and never nothing,” said Ms Sweeney-McDougall, who lives in the small Victorian township of Tatyoon.
She grew up in Walcha, near Armidale in northern NSW.
“Being an advocate for farming communities is really important to me,” she said.
Mrs Sweeney-McDougall, whose son Vincent is 18 months old and daughter Vivian is a week old today, is on maternity leave from her job teaching textiles and arts to high school students.
She was pregnant when she won the Mrs Australia title but will leave her two young children at home with her husband when she’s representing Australia in the US for nine days.
Mrs Australia Leila Sweeney-McDougall wants to help farmers.