Grief Advocate Takes Home Top Honour: 2023 WA AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Winner announced


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Tuesday 21 March 2023

Bunbury businesswoman, Michelle Moriarty (pictured above, left) has been awarded the 2023 WA AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award for her commitment to supporting widowed people across regional Western Australia.

The prestigious award was presented at a ceremony in Perth by Jackie Jarvis, Minister for Agriculture and Food, Forestry and Small Business, who is also a past recipient of the WA AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award.

The AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award, supported by long-term platinum sponsor Westpac, is Australia’s leading award for acknowledging and supporting the critical role women play in rural and regional businesses, industries and communities. It is an opportunity to celebrate the forward thinking, courageous leaders who come from industries that represent some of the vast and remote areas of Western Australia.

Ms Moriarty was selected for her work to reduce social isolation for widowed women and men by providing support groups that offer a safe space for honest discussions about the harsh realities of losing a partner.

Widowed at 38, Ms Moriarty set up a young widow’s Facebook group which now has over 300 members. In 2022, Michelle’s father died unexpectedly so she set up another Facebook group, this time for widows over 55. Her organisation Grief Connect is dedicated to providing support and counselling throughout the southwest of WA.

As part of the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award, Ms Moriarty received 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 Moriarty will go on to represent Western Australia at the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Gala Dinner and National Announcement in Canberra later in the year, where the National Winner will be awarded an additional $20,000 Westpac grant and the National Runner Up, an additional $15,000.

“I feel extremely honoured to win the WA AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award for the Grief Connect “Widowed Support Group Projects,” said Ms Moriarty.

“There are over 1 million widows across Australia and winning the WA award has given me the opportunity to open public conversations about our widowed community, increase our visibility, raise awareness around death related grief and assist moving forward to ensure our regional communities continue to thrive.”

Agriculture and Food Minister Jackie Jarvis (pictured above, right) congratulated Ms Moriarty and fellow finalists Kate Mitchell and Joy Sherlock for their brilliant work and ongoing contribution to regional communities in Western Australia.

“I congratulate Michelle on her dedication to drive programs which support and connect people who have suffered the profound loss of a partner. She is a worthy winner of this year’s WA AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award,” Minister Jarvis said.

“The judging panel praised the calibre of all the finalists who are already making a difference in regional Western Australia and will continue to grow as community leaders,” she said.

All three women will now join a 300-strong alumni that advocates for women in regional and rural Australia and provides a network to support their future endeavours.

AgriFutures Managing Director, John Harvey hopes Ms Moriarty’s achievements will inspire other determined and forward-thinking female leaders working in rural, regional and remote communities across Western Australia for years to come.

“The AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award provides these women a platform to build on their leadership skills to drive change in rural and regional Australia,” Mr Harvey explained.

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

Supporting these sentiments, Westpac’s Regional Manager for WA Pauline Gazzard also commended Ms Moriarty for being awarded the title of Western Australian State Winner.

“The AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award is synonymous with visionary rural champions in our community and sectors. Intuitive change makers like Michelle represent the type of role models our communities and rural economies need in order to thrive well into the future – which is why Westpac continues to support important opportunities such as these Awards. Congratulations to Michelle,” said Ms Gazzard.

The award is proudly supported by CBH Group and the Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network of Western Australia in conjunction with AgriFutures Australia and Westpac.


Find out more about the Award

Media contact:
Georgie Robertson | The Regional PR Co.
0417 217 869

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