Visionary Choir Founder Takes Home Top Honour: 2023 NSW/ACT AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Winner announced

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Visionary choir founder, Michelle Leonard OAM has been awarded the 2023 NSW/ACT AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award for her work bringing music and creativity to regional communities.

The prestigious Award was presented at an evening ceremony at the State Library in Sydney by Minister for Women, Jodie Harrison.

The AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award, supported by long-term platinum sponsor Westpac, is Australia’s leading Award in empowering and celebrating the inclusive and courageous leadership of women involved in Australia’s rural and emerging industries, businesses, and communities, now and into the future. It is an opportunity to celebrate the forward thinking, courageous leaders who come from industries that represent rural industries and regional communities in New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory.

Ms Leonard, founder, artistic director and conductor of Moorambilla Voices, was selected for her nationally awarded program that seeks at its core to give country children and young adults a unique opportunity to sing, dance, drum, record, tour and create incredible performances with artists of the highest calibre.

“It is an incredible honour, as Artistic Director of Moorambilla Voices, to be awarded the 2023 NSW/ACT AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award. This recognition goes beyond a personal achievement, and is testament to the unwavering dedication of all those committed to empowering rural and regional communities. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunities this award provides to further amplify the positive impact of Moorambilla Voices which has, and always will be, built on the pillars of access, equity, excellence, inclusion and respect. We all lift on a rising tide,” said Ms Leonard.

As part of the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award, Ms Leonard receives a $15,000 grant from Westpac to further support her project as well as the opportunity to undertake a professional development course of her choosing. Ms Leonard will go on to represent New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory at the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Gala Dinner and National Announcement in Canberra on Tuesday, 12 September where the National Winner will be awarded an additional $20,000 Westpac grant and the National Runner Up, an additional $15,000.

Minister for Women Jodie Harrison commended Ms Leonard on her win and all that she has achieved through the Moorambilla Voices program and to the fellow finalists Rochelle Olsen and Dimity Brassil for their brilliant work and ongoing contribution to rural and regional communities in New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory.

“Michelle’s passion for collaboration and celebrating cultural identity has sparked an innovative way to engage regional youth with music, dance and respect for the land and for others. She is driving change in how our children learn to tap into their creativity, resilience and sense of joy while gaining a deeper understanding of Australian and Aboriginal culture.

“All three finalists are truly inspiring women who are applying their strengths to make a difference to our regional communities. Thank you for all your dedication to your crafts and congratulations on being finalists for this prestigious award,” Ms Harrison said.

The finalists along with Michelle, will now join a 300-strong alumni that provides a network to support their future endeavours.

AgriFutures Australia Managing Director John Harvey said the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award provides women with a platform to build on their leadership skills to drive change in rural and regional Australia.

“It’s exciting to see Michelle already making such a positive influence in her industry and community,” Mr Harvey said.

Supporting these sentiments, Sam Gaston, NSW Regional General Manager, Regional and Agribusiness for Westpac congratulated Ms Leonard on her achievements and for winning the NSW/ACT Award.

“Our communities and rural industries have had to face many challenges but to have women like Michelle creating new opportunities to drive positive change, puts the future of the rural sectors in good hands.

“The NSW Westpac Agribusiness team looks forward to cheering Michelle on at the national announcement later this year,” Mr Gaston said.

New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory finalists Dimity Brassil and Rochelle Olsen will both receive $2,000 in sponsorship from the Country Women’s Association and NSW Farmers to support the development of their businesses.

For more information about the Awards, head to agrifutures.com.au/rwa.

ENDS

Photo:

L to R: Amanda Middlebrook – Westpac, Danica Leys – CWA, Dianna Gibbs – AgriFutures Australia, Michelle Leonard – 2023 NSW/ACT Winner, Jodie Harrison – Minister for Women, Rebecca Reardon – NSW Farmers, Jade Clarke – Westpac.

Media enquiries:

Georgie Robertson | The Regional PR Co.
georgie@regionalpr.com.au
0417 217 869

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Please note: All images belong to AgriFutures Australia. Please credit us with the following wording when using our imagery.
Photo by AgriFutures Australia.

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