My name is Sue Middleton and I was the National Rural Women’s Award National Winner in 2010 and State Winner for WA. Winning this award had a profound impact but it’s not something I fully understood at the time.
At the time I wanted to highlight the importance of agriculture tackling greenhouse gas emissions and my project was based upon that challenge – to commercialise biogas technology in the pork industry.
But I quickly learnt after winning the national award that the winner becomes the spokesperson for much broader issues. How I tackled it was to use the myriad of presentations and media events as opportunities to meet other women across rural and regional Australia and listen to their stories. I tried to make my voice “resonant” with their voices. It was my way of sharing the platform the Award gives you, and it also helped me build amazing networks across the country, many of whom are key parts of the Rural Women’s network to this day.
The RWA is the greatest national and state platform I know for rural women. It shines a light on women making change happen in their communities, their industries and the regions. I did not understand before the award that women aren’t visible. Making women visible is what the Award does. For me, it’s not about building women’s leadership capacity, as the applicants are already enormously capable leaders. It’s about platforming and elevating the importance of what women are doing.
That is incredibly important for women as we know women look ahead of where they are to decide what is possible. This is encapsulated in the comment, “you can’t be what you cannot see”. Demonstration is incredibly important. The Award not only builds networks and connects women and helps them to build their profile, it helps younger women to see the pathway to achieving their aspirations. I think that is incredibly important and it’s why I keep contributing to our state-based RRR network.