Seven female innovators announced as 2023 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant recipients


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Alice Bennett (Crystal Brook, SA), Thea Walker (Jardee, WA), Nadine Holgate (Kialla, VIC), Emma Goodall (Clunes, VIC), Leanne Kruss (Dimbulah, QLD), Kate Webster (Muttama, NSW) and Sara McCarthy (Narromine, NSW) successfully pitched their ideas, ranging from health chats, value-add ice cream and pastures under horse grazing, to a brain injury summit, Australian fibre apparel rental, classroom resources about agriculture and delivering medication with a drone.

The Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant was launched in 2021 and is designed to foster growth and development in women involved in Australia’s rural and emerging industries, businesses, and communities.

“We are thrilled to be offering these seven rural women the leadership and development opportunities they need to make real and tangible impacts in their industries and communities,” said Managing Director of AgriFutures Australia, John Harvey.

“The AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant is an important program as it provides a vehicle for women across the nation to realise their potential. It will nurture the development of new and exciting ideas, and we encourage the successful applicants to apply for the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award in the future,” said Mr Harvey.

Each of the seven women will receive a learning and development bursary of up to $7,000 for professional development to enable them to bring their idea, cause, or vision to life.

Introducing the 2023 trailblazing women

Experienced commercial agronomist, Emma Goodall is excited that her concept of establishing agronomically sound pastures for the equine industry is now more than a dream.

“Being awarded the grant will quite literally “accelerate” the opportunity to pursue an idea that is on the “to do list” but until now lacked a real timeline – and fit the cliché of a goal without a plan,” said Emma.

Ice-cream extraordinaire, Thea Walker has developed a sustainable ice-cream by utilising blemished or mis-shaped avocados from her family’s avocado farm. Thea aims to turn her ice-cream idea into a commercial business through the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant.

“I aim to expand my business, marketing and networking skills to create a product that encourages collaboration with farmers, provides an opportunity to reduce food waste and educates the consumer about the agricultural industry,” explains Thea.

From behind the counter to the skies, Pharmacist, Sarah McCarthy’s rural drone delivery idea stems from the recent increase in demand for health services and the lack of accessibility to pharmacy medication for rural communities.

“I am hoping to improve patient health outcomes of our rural families by improving access to medications by increasing convenience, reducing time limitations and eliminate geographical distance and natural disasters as barriers to access,” explains Sarah.

Occupational therapist, Nadine Holgate is excited to be a successful applicant as the grant will help achieve her aim of improving outcomes for rural and regional Australians with a brain injury.

“Too often there is inequity in healthcare resources for rural and regional providers compared to metropolitan colleagues. Health providers like me need to be able to build skills and networks to provide an equitable service to rural clients,” said Nadine.

Kate Webster’s vision was born out of the concerning statistics around children’s lack of knowledge of where their food comes from. Kate aims to provide a full educational package which is ready to be picked up and used in the classroom with options for students of all ages.

“I hope the program reaches students from all walks of life and aids in growing the future generations’ understanding of not only where food comes from, but the importance of agriculture as a whole,” said Kate.

Dr Alice Bennett is a Gastroenterologist based in the Mid North of South Australia and looks forward to accessing mentorship to structure her project ‘Hats off for Health Chats’. The project is designed to deliver regular, health-related discussions to rural men and women.

“The grant will also aid in the delivery of each of the three pilot events, assisting in creating a relaxed, welcoming and enjoyable atmosphere,” said Alice.

Staying true to her early Merino roots, Leanne Kruss is embarking on a sustainable, value-add paddock to podium Australian fibre apparel rental concept.

“I’m hoping to take my identified concept that is designed to support acceleration of consumer adoption of Australian food and fibre and make a significant contribution to a problem I have identified on my own professional journey,” said Leanne.

With the support of the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant, all seven women will be undertaking a range of learning and development opportunities throughout 2023, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to advance their project from idea to reality.

Applications for the 2024 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant will open in September 2023.

Find out more

Media enquiries:
Abbey O’Callaghan
Coordinator, Capacity Building   
0497 996 096

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