Why Mrs Oz is fight­ing for farm­ers

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - EN­TER­TAIN­MENT WRITER

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.

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