2005 Runners Up

2005 New South Wales Runner-up - Kate Woodward

A more innovative and quality-focused dairy industry

Kate is the creator and owner/operator of Hunter Belle Cheese, a boutique cheese company based at Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley, which produces unique, high quality, hand made cheese from milk of Brown Swiss cows.

Her vision for the dairy industry is for it to become more innovative and focused on quality, value adding and niche markets. Her goal is to strengthen the dairy industry through growth of Hunter Belle Cheese, by identifying and producing new products and expanding current markets.

Kate says that participating in the Award helped her assess where Hunter Belle Cheese was positioned within the dairy industry and how she could improve her individual and business contribution to her local community and industry.

Kate says her involvement in the Award has also assisted with awareness of Hunter Belle Cheese products which resulted in growth and expanded volume into the Sydney and Queensland markets throughout 2005 and 2006.

The Award Bursary allowed Kate to undertake a study tour of specialist cheese factories in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. The tour proved invaluable in exposing Kate to new techniques and cheeses, to establishing new networks and connections and in giving her the confidence to expand her own product range.

As a direct result of participating in the Award Kate became involved in a number of rural organizations and government advisory bodies in NSW. She was appointed a member of the NSW Dairy Industry Conference, which advises the NSW Minister for Primary Industries on the general policies of NSW Food Authority and other aspects of policies that affect the dairy industry. She was also appointed to the Board of Ag Start, a NSW government scheme to promote and facilitate career paths for young people in agriculture. In addition she has recently been appointed to the Board of the NSW Assistance Authority.

She has also proved herself to be a worthy role model for rural youth and has recently created an opportunity through a school-based traineeship for one of her junior employees.

2005 Victoria Runner-Up - Elaine Paton

Step Out and Make a Difference: Basic Leadership and Management Training for Rural Women

Elaine has a strong commitment to rural women, having been a founding member of Australian Women in Agriculture, and having served terms on the Victorian RWN Reference Group along with three Women’s Advisory Boards to the Victorian Departments of Justice, Natural Resources and Management and Victorian Communities.

Her vision is to see rural women stepping out and making a difference, “Getting Business Done Better and Right” by raising their basic business, management and leadership skills.

Elaine used the Award bursary to undertake the Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Program (AVCLP), a 12 month course of structured activities, providing for extensive skills development and networking opportunities with a diverse group of leaders from her region. Topics covered by the program included regional development, the environment, local government, arts and culture, youth, media and public speaking.

Elaine developed the “Stepping Out and Make a Difference” manual, to compliment the three day course, that was launched on World Rural Women’s Day, 15th October 2006. The program included a comprehensive list of topics from networking, self confidence and self care, personal skills audit, public speaking and working with the media, political lobbying and the machinery of government and NGO’s, communication and conflict resolution, working in community or a family business and managing the business and organization.

The program Elaine proposed was made available to Community Education Centres and Neighbourhood Houses, delivered as a week-by-week or residential course, by professionals or by community tutors.

Elaine hoped the program would provide a format for educating and training women to be confident, well informed and capable partners and leaders, in their family businesses, their industries and communities, and in effect providing for women to become role models and trainers in businesses and community groups.

2005 Queensland Runner-up - Delphine Bentley

Corporate Social Responsibility in the International Beef Market

At the time of the Award, Delphine was General Manager of Corporate Development with The North Australian Pastoral Company (NAPCO)

Her vision for the Queensland and the Australian beef industry was an industry which is sustainable and viable, through beef producers being more responsive to consumer attitudes and demand, with improved public perception resulting in greater demand for product and in turn the further adoption of sustainable practices by producers.

Delphine believes there is a growing interest both domestically and abroad with how meat is produced and how farmers and retailers meet the key principles of Corporate and Social responsibility (CSR includes obligations to social welfare, economic development and environmental management).

Her project involved a study tour to the United Kingdom to determine how domestic and export markets are influenced by consumers preferences for beef produced following the principles of CSR. The Award Bursary contributed in part to her travel and accommodation expenses.

Delphine was overwhelmed by the level of general discussion relating to CSR in red meat industries, both in the UK and in Australia, with producers and retailers alike sensitive to the importance of projecting images of happy and healthy customers, animals and environments.

All producers she met with, while driven by market specifications and commodity prices, recognize the strong link between sound operational practices and reducing production risks and costs. Those producers are employing the principles of CSR, either deliberately or through external drivers and are recognizing the benefits of these principles.

She believes that while it is highly unlikely that consumers will pay premiums for ethically produced meat, they will increasingly expect the principles of CSR to be employed and upheld by producers.

The major outcomes from Delphine’s study tour included her promotion to the position of NAPCO General Manager Corporate Development, the opportunity to present on a number of occasions and significantly as part of a Panel discussion on Corporate Responsibility as part of the 7th National Business Leaders Forum on Sustainable Development in Brisbane in May 2006 and to the Corporate Sustainability Executive Training Program at the University of Queensland Business School. Delphine has recently been awarded the Queensland DPI&F Scholarship for the Australian Institute of Company Directors New Directors Program. She has also recently accepted the position of Future farmers Network Coordinator/Acting Secretary.

2005 South Australia Runner-up - Lyn Dohle

Sustaining Rural Women

At the time of the Award, Lyn was a Senior Land Management Consultant with Rural Solutions SA and with her partner, owned and operated a sheep and cropping operation on Kangaroo Island.

She is committed to the empowerment of rural women and believes that rural women need to have the support and the skills to determine life’s priorities and to reach a balance between the many facets of their lives.

Lyn’s proposed activity involved the establishment of a Kangaroo Island rural women’s group, to provide support to the group members to develop their own skills and projects. The Look@Wool concept was selected, the program allows participants to focus on the issues most relevant to making their own farming businesses more profitable and productive, as it provided the tools to enable women to learn in a group environment whilst giving them the skills and encouragement to develop their own projects.

The group called www or ‘Women Working Well’ was established, comprising of ten women and meeting monthly. Individual projects chosen by the women included life balance, succession planning, financial management and communication and relationships. In addition to specific projects, the group also participated in several combined learning activities including rural office management and healthy living.

The group proved extremely successful in improving the lives and skills of its members, with a number commenting that the course had been one of the most significant learning events of their lives.

On a personal level, Lyn was in the process of undertaking two new training courses on personal growth and development, courses she believed she would develop new skills and new networks from. She also believed the Award increased both her self confidence and her own awareness of the vital role women play in all levels of rural development.

2005 Western Australia Runner-Up - Deborah Oberon

ertified Organic Skin Care

AT the time of the Award, Deborah Oberon was Managing Director of Elemental Skin Care, one of only two certified organic skin care businesses in Australia.

Deborah began the business in 1995 in response to a growing concern over the toxicity of ingredients commonly used in the majority of skin care products, selling at hugely inflated retail prices.

Deborah lives in Denmark in Western Australia, a ‘sea-change/tree-change’ town, comprising a population of middle class and educated people, but with limited viable employment options and a growing number of farms that are turning to organic farming methods.

Her vision was to create a range of skin care products that are entirely natural and certified organic, based on ingredients sourced, where possible, from locally grown organic produce, and market these products at a price more reflective of the cost of producing them. In doing so she hoped to educate women as to the potential detrimental effects of products currently on the market, while creating real and interesting employment opportunities for local women and through her business new opportunities for organic farms in the region to expand and value add crops.

Deborah achieved certification by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA) for her full range of Elemental Skin Care products, the first cosmetic business in Australia to do so, and was in the process of establishing markets internationally and domestically for her products.

Deborah used her bursary to help finance the establishment of a website for the business, which helped in marketing her products domestically and internationally.

The Award helped raised her profile and that of her business within her region, helped her establish valuable support networks with individuals and organizations, and led to numerous media opportunities that resulted in increased sales.  In the two year period from 2004 to 2006 Elemental Skin Care tripled its turnover and employed seven people.

2005 Tasmanian Runner-Up - Laura Richardson

Encouraging young people back into the rural sector

At the time of the Award Laura was immediate past President of Rural Youth Tasmania, one of the country’s most vibrant and active rural youth organizations. She was also elected to the Board of the national rural organization, Future Farmers Network.

Her vision was to break down the stigma attached to agriculture and to encourage young people back into the rural sector, using the rural youth organization as the vehicle to effect the change.

Her proposed activity involved travel to the United Kingdom and the United States to explore strategies employed by other rural youth based organizations to attract and retain young people in agriculture.

While Laura was unable to complete her full activity she was able to travel to the United. She was able to meet and network with executive members of the National Federation of Young Farmer Clubs and exchange much relevant information. Information was also being collated and shared between exchanges from Australia, Canada and Wales.

She believes that volunteer organizations all confront issues involving membership retention, funding, and promotional requirements, and while there is not one solution, the sharing of experience and applications will be of benefit to all.

Laura compiled a detailed report to Rural Youth Tasmania, that was shared and would have have implications for other Australian Rural Youth and like-minded organizations.

2005 Northern Territory Runner-up - Sarah Fea

Manage from the Ground Up

At the time of the Award, Sarah operated her own agricultural management consultancy based in Katherine.

Her vision was to find better management practices to combat major production issues such as disease, weed and insect pests and agriculture’s increasing reliance on fertilizers, through biological farming practices.

Her objectives were to firstly obtain further practical knowledge and understanding of biological farming management systems, through attending a number of workshops and conferences. Secondly to gain the technical knowledge and accreditation required to analyse soil, without the support of southern based laboratories. And thirdly to utilize this acquired knowledge to assist community and industry development.

Sarah in 2004 became an accredited Soil Food Web Advisor. In early 2005 Sarah attended a Compost and Compost Tea Making Course conducted by Elaine Ingham and a Light Microscope Course run by the Soil Food Web Institute laboratory in Lismore in NSW. She also attended in early 2005 the Compost Conference held in Brisbane and attended by international speakers from USA and Germany, who highlighted issues relevant to Australian agricultural production systems. In late 2005 Sarah also attended the ‘Benefits of Healthy Soil Systems Symposium’ in Bryon Bay in NSW. The symposium exposed her to a number of different tea brewing systems in action, to different techniques and choice of ‘foods’ and their biological results.

At a personal level, attending these various activities gave Sarah greater confidence in her ability to assist producers, who are keen to follow the principles of biological farming and to explore potential local based product development initiatives.

Sarah also worked with a cross section of different commodities to establish base line data on the ‘soil health’ under their current production systems. From this base line data, suitable management plans and a monitoring system on future impacts can be developed. She also worked with a number of producer groups aiming to develop holistic grazing management plants and weed management plans, utilizing soil biology monitoring as an indicator of their impact on biodiversity.

Sarah was involved in a school-based project, developing a fact sheet on soil health and assisting in an interactive workshop with them at the Katherine Research Station. The workshop proved very rewarding to students in highlighting how food can be produced while working with nature.

She believes the major and ongoing impact of the project will continue to be her ability to impart her skills and knowledge to individuals and to rural organizations she is involved with.