Who inspires inspiring women?


  • Share on LinkedIn
  • Share via Email
  • Share Link
  • Print

The AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award National Announcement is just around the corner, being held virtually next Wednesday, 20 October 2021.

This event is all about 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.

In light of this and to mark the International Day of Rural Women, we asked our seven State and Territory Winners, ‘Who is a woman who inspires you and why?”

Kelly Barnes | 2020 VIC Rural Women’s Award Winner

“A woman who inspires me is my good friend Kathryn Robertson. Kathryn lives on a cropping and grazing property between Dunkeld and Hamilton and farms with her Dad, as well as running her own mobile large animal veterinary business. She is the captain of her local CFA (Country Fire Authority) brigade and has been for the past four years, as well as being the first ever female Sheepvention President. She is also a specialty lecturer at the Rural Industry Skills Training Centre here in Hamilton and was also recently announced as the Community Leader of the Year for 2020 at the Farmer of The Year Awards.

Kathryn and my friendship has grown over the past five years, and she is an inspiration to me in so many ways. She is extremely humble, level-headed and non-judgemental, and conducts herself in such a way that she sees the good in everyone and inspires me to reflect on my own behaviours instead of looking for fault in others.

She is a female in a number of very male dominated industries, but she handles this with grace and has the respect and admiration of many. She is strong but also shows great empathy in her work and towards others. These are values that I feel very strongly about, and ones which Kathryn has helped me grow through our friendship.”

Amy Kirke | 2020 NT Rural Women’s Award Winner

“A woman who inspires me is the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. She is the youngest female Prime Minister and challenges what I thought I knew about women and leadership. She demonstrates that she really cares about her country and her people in the way she handles crises like the Christchurch shooting and COVID-19 pandemic. She stands up for women’s rights and is an amazing role models and inspiration for young girls.

She is also a feminist and advocates for abolishing child poverty and homelessness, amplifies the voices of the Maori Indigenous population, champions a greater intake of refugees and voted to legalise same-sex marriage in New Zealand. These are the little people, the people that are the most underrepresented and she is providing a platform for these groups to be heard.

From climate policies and a commitment to net zero by 2050, to being the world first to bring in laws forcing its financial firms to report on the effects of climate change, she is positioning herself as a word leader on the climate crisis, which I believe is one of the greatest crises my generation faces.

Adjectives that have been used to describe her are charismatic optimism, strength and down-to-earth charm and she always manages to be respectful, which is something that’s hard to fake.”

Karen Brock | 2020 TAS Rural Women’s Award Winner

“The woman who inspires me is Dame Elisabeth Murdoch. The points I make about her might seem quite simple, yet what she achieved in her lifetime is profound.

She displayed discipline; she set the boundaries, was all about straight talk, was a fair judge and was not at all interested in consumption.

She was incredibly generous, and this was shown in dedicating her time for charitable causes, including the RSPCA and Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne.

On top of this, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch was also committed to philanthropic causes relating to giving youth opportunity.

Furthermore, despite losing her daughter to illness and friends over time, she remained stoic and was still able to focus on the positives, with a focus on finding joy in children.

And finally, I’m inspired by the gracious way in which she conducted herself; always smiling, a welcoming hostess and forever thankful for blessings in her life.”

Stephanie Schmidt | 2020 SA Rural Women’s Award Winner

“A woman who inspires me is my nanna, Brenda Rees. She inspires me in her ability to find joy, even in the hard moments of life. She has a huge amount of grit and determination, leaving her family in England and following my Poppa to come to Australia.

She also had three young children while her husband worked hard in his career, and she had limited support around her. However, she found simple ways to get by in those tough times. Even if it was just taking 10 minutes to lie down and rest while the kids were asleep or playing quietly.

She also reminds me that we don’t have to do everything at once, and that is okay. A lot of her life was spent supporting her husband and raising her family, however she was still able to find ways to keep herself in the picture, whether that was opening a studio, singing or running local musical groups.

She has a huge heart and love for her family, her friends and her community. She reminds me that sometimes we don’t have to make a difference by doing huge, ground-breaking things, but we can make a difference in the lives of the people we care about most, just by believing in them and being there for them.”

Cara Peek | 2020 WA Rural Women’s Award Winner

“I cannot choose just one woman that inspires me when there have been so many who have contributed to my resilience, strength, and success to date.

I come from a long line of strong and resilient women in particular my mother, Barbara, my grandmother, Gudjubuk or Margaret Mary Dolby, and her grandmother, Lucy Dolby who walked over 400km from Bunuba to Bardi country to follow her child, my great grandmother Philappina who had been taken.

Each lived in the varied chapters of segregation that make up the shared history book of this nation, and yet in their own way have raised remarkable women, whilst living a life of service to their families and communities

I continue to be inspired by the women who came before me, the ones who stand beside me, and those that will follow me.”

Elisha Parker | 2020 QLD Rural Women’s Award Winner

“The woman who inspires me is Senator Susan McDonald. Susan hails from Cloncurry in western Queensland and was elected to the Australian Senate for Queensland in May 2019.

I listened to Senator McDonald’s First Speech as a Senator for Queensland for the Liberal-National Party, with my favourite part being:

“For if the cities are the head and the nervous system of our national body, regional, rural and remote Australia are the heart and the soul, the guts and the arteries of that body. It is regional, rural and remote Australia that provided our uniqueness that shapes our character and culture; that gave us Anzacs marching off to war from country towns; of laconic farmers and dusty fettlers; of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians being joined by men and women from every nation on earth, and being joined in a common purpose: to build a future for them and their families. Not only is regional and rural Australia the heart and soul, it’s the economic backbone, with just one-third of our population contributing more than 30 per cent of our GDP and often on an uneven playing field. Imagine if that playing field became more fair.”

I admire Senator McDonald’s understanding, passion and love for rural and regional Australia, and her genuine commitment to the betterment of rural industries and regions.”

Cressida Cains | 2020 NSW/ACT Rural Women’s Award Winner

“When you tune in to rural and regional Australia, inspirational women are everywhere, not always attracting attention, just getting on and making a difference. One woman in particular who inspires me is Jillian Kilby.

When I first heard Jillian speak, I was struck by her ability to distill and effectively communicate her objectives. Bringing big picture thinking into the conversation, drawing upon her diverse and extensive career experience. I admire how throughout her life; Jillian has said yes to opportunities. She’s always open to ideas and has an innate curiosity about the world. Her most recent venture “The Exchange” in Dubbo, is a tremendous success. She has developed a real space and momentum for assisting rural women in small business, particularly startups.

Jillian is generous with her time and I’m grateful to have been able to chat with her and get her perspective on my work. I hope to be able to repay the favour to other women.

After all, a rising tide lifts all boats.”


To register for free to join the virtual AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award National Announcement, alongside viewers from right across Australia, visit agrifutures.com.au/rwa/register.

Register to join the National Announcement

Latest News

  • RICE / 20.05.24

    Practical digital agronomy tools boost productivity for rice growers

  • 16.05.24

    AgriFutures 2024 Horizon Scholarship cohort announced

  • 14.05.24

    Don’t Miss Out! Early Bird Tickets Now on Sale for the 2024 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Gala Dinner & National Announcement


    Industrial Hemp and Sesame trial sites open for inspection in northern Australia