2013 Winners

2013 New South Wales Winner and National Runner-up – Isobel Knight

Isobel Knight has a strong passion for her local community, owns and manages a grazing and marketing business with her husband and has also established proAGtive, a business that specialises in succession planning for family farm businesses.

Isobel’s Award ambition is to develop an online platform which educates, provides process and inspires rural business owners, managers and family members to undertake the process of succession planning.

Following her own family’s frustrating experience in trying to plan for the future of their family farm, Isobel recognised the need for frameworks to be available for farming families to address succession planning needs. Isobel discovered that this was a common story and that available services were often expensive and inadequate. Knowing that family businesses that develop and communicate succession plans increase their business performance, profitability and long term viability, Isobel set out to undertake additional study including post graduate psychology, counselling and mediation to enhance her capacity to offer a unique and effective succession planning service to farming families.

Isobel also established proAGtive not only to help facilitate farming families as they addressed their succession planning, but also to encourage them to adopt relevant and more formal management system practices to ensure harmonious relationships and profitability.

In her community work, Isobel has developed her skills by taking on a diverse range of roles. These have included Real Estate and Law teaching positions at local TAFEs; Chair of the Ulinda Landcare Group; President of the Calrossy Campus Parents and Friends Association of Tamworth Anglican College; and participation on advisory boards including the Board to Resource Consulting Services and the Regional and Rural Health Advisory Board NSW. She is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Isobel will use the Award Bursary to develop an online platform for succession planning that rural businesses can easily and regularly access. This platform will improve the level of education about succession planning, inspiring positive attitudes in relation to and driving up the level of implementation, as well as the management of generational change in rural and regional businesses.

Isobel believes that rural women in particular will greatly benefit from her project, as they strive to sustain relationships and create successful family businesses.

2013 Victoria Winner - Michelle Freeman

Michelle Freeman is passionate about the forestry industry, and has become involved in wider industry initiatives since studying forestry at Melbourne University and the Creswick School of Forestry.

Michelle’s Award ambition is to instigate change in the culture and diversity of the forestry industry through engaging women and youth more effectively and empowering them to step forward as the next generation of industry leaders.

During University Michelle joined the International Forestry Students Association (IFSA) and assisted in organising the 2005 Forestry Student Symposium. In 2008 Michelle was elected to the board of IFSA as Councillor for the Oceania Region, and as part of this role travelled abroad for two years attending regional meetings and representing Australian Foresters at IFSA events. Michelle also attended numerous conferences and presented topics on Australian forest management during this time.

Michelle is an advocate for youth and women in the forestry industry and has commenced a PhD looking at the ecology and distribution of native vegetation in the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory. She is a Board Director of the Institute of Foresters of Australia (IFA) for Youth and Women and sits on the advisory committee for the Women in Forests and Timber Network (WFTN), which acts as a forum for women in the industry to meet, network, and exchange ideas.

Michelle’s award ambition is to instigate change in the culture and diversity of the forest industry through engaging women and youth more effectively and empowering them to step forward as the next generation of industry leaders.

Michelle will use the Bursary to travel, gain training in leadership and social media, attend the IFA National Forestry Conference 2013 and set up a workshop in conjunction with this conference to gain a better understanding of who is involved in the forestry industry. Michelle will also set up and effectively utilise social media to proactively engage youth and women within the industry, and identify and support potential future leaders.

Michelle believes that rural women and the next generation of foresters will be the key to driving change in the forestry industry and re-define the reputation of foresters for the general public.

2013 Queensland Winner – Alison Fairleigh

Alison Fairleigh is a passionate advocate for mental health issues and services, particularly in rural communities. Following a thirteen year career as a teacher both in Australia and abroad, Alison secured a position as Student Services Manager at the Australian Agricultural College in North Queensland, where in 2008 three local men took their lives.

Alison’s Award ambition is to partner with the Australian Medicare Local Alliance to develop a pilot education program for Medicare Locals to create better pathways for farmers and farming communities to access front-line health and mental health services.

Determined to develop a better understanding of the issues surrounding suicide and its impact on rural communities, Alison become a team leader with the local Community Response to Eliminating Suicide program to help educate people about suicide and its prevention. She also co-founded RuralMH a social media platform aimed at raising awareness of mental health issues in rural communities, and the highly successful “Great Café Challenge”, a campaign aimed at closing the rural/urban divide by asking every cafés across Australia to carry at least one weekly rural newspaper.

Alison currently manages mental health education programs for the Mental Illness Fellowship of North Queensland where she is the North Queensland, Rural and Online Coordinator. Alison is also an active member of Suicide Prevention Australia and hopes to bring the importance of both physical and mental health to the fore in rural communities, and also represent these communities in government health policy.

Alison’s project is to build upon the Australian Government’s development of 61 Medicare Locals across Australia, which aims to better connect local health services and to find and fill service gaps. Alison believes that more specialised skills and knowledge in the area of farmer health are required for Medicare Locals to provide health services appropriate to meet the needs of this important group of rural Australia.

Alison aspires to develop a pilot education program which will provide advice to Medicare Local boards and health professionals about the barriers and enablers for rural people accessing services; provide examples of successful programs and strategies; and demonstrate how to promote these services and programs to rural people.

Alison also hopes to empower rural women with the knowledge and skills they need to take on leadership roles within their communities and become the linchpins in their Medicare Local networks.

2013 South Australia Winner – Anna Hooper

Anna Hooper is a pioneering wine maker from Mount Benson who has a vision to see the Australian Wine industry become a world leader in environmental performance. Since 2003 Anna has been developing the first Biodynamic wine range of the Limestone Coast area at Cape Jaffa Wines. Certified since 2006, this winery has received the South Australian Wine Industry Association Environmental Excellence Award Certificate of Merit and the South Australian Sustainability Award from 2009-2011.

As a pioneer in the industry with a passion for science and the environment, Anna has worked in a wide range of disciplines in a number of different countries, from grape growing and winemaking, to global markets. She has seen first-hand how the market reacts to environment credentials in wine and has specialist skills that can enhance biodynamic and organic management.

Anna has a strong belief in the importance of women in rural business. She has taken on positions with the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources as a member of the South East National Parks and Wildlife Consultative Committee;

has been Treasurer and President of the Mount Benson Vignerons Association; is a representative on the South Australian Wine Industry Association Regional Forum and the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council, and more recently has become a board member on the South East Natural Resource Management Group.

Anna’s award ambition is to investigate and improve the environmental performance of Australian wine compared with its global competitors. Anna’s project will see her travel to countries which have successfully developed environmental sustainability programs to guide viticultural and winemaking practices, including New Zealand, the United States of America and South Africa.

Anna hopes that the outcomes of this project will serve as a tool to inspire rural women to become more actively engaged in managing the environmental credentials of their businesses, whether it be in wine, on the family farm or in a completely different industry.

2013 Western Australia Winner - Danielle England

Danielle England has been involved in the agricultural industry for over 20 years, from growing up on the family farm at Lake Grace, to studying a Bachelor of Agribusiness Management, to working as a rural journalist for Rural Press, and consulting for the Association of Australian Agricultural Consultants (AAAC).

Danielle’s Award ambition is to undertake a study tour of New Zealand’s North Island to explore how their agricultural industries have maintained international competiveness through innovation.

Danielle is now a project officer at Planfarm and specialises in project facilitation and coordination, as well as managing the Relative Advantage and Risk Uncertainty project within the Western Australian Grain and Graze 2 program.

Danielle has been a founding member of several rural women’s organisations, including Australian Women in Agriculture (AWiA); Top Crop groups in the Upper South East of South Australia which lead to the formation of Partners in grain (PING), a formal grains industry network for women and young people;, and has volunteered on the Narrogin Regional Childcare Services management committee.

Danielle’s Award ambition is to undertake a study tour of New Zealand’s North Island to explore how their agricultural industries have maintained international competitiveness through innovation. Danielle will explore how New Zealand’s agricultural industries have managed change, and the role extension plays in the development of their innovative industries. She will explore how facilitated learning, communication and participation in research and development projects can benefit family businesses and the industry as a hole, and will also attend the Australasia Pacific Extension Network (APEN) International Forum.

Danielle’s hope is to facilitate the uptake of new ideas into Western Australian broadacre industries through improved knowledge and skills in all sectors of the industry. This will help the industry analyse and adopt new ideas to become more resilient to the changing seasonal, market and farm management conditions.

Danielle has experienced how women positivity contribute to the sustainability of agriculture, and are often the members of businesses who are involved in environmental management actions and food safely assurance systems.

2013 Tasmania Winner – Katie Coad

Katie Coad is State President of Rural Youth Tasmania, has played an integral part in the promotion and media support for Agfest Field Days for a number of years, and is President of the Deep South Events Tasmania Inc. Committee, which organises rodeo and social events in Southern Tasmania.

Katie’s Award ambition is to deliver the Kids Ag Awareness Program (KAAP) which focuses on education and activities to promote the importance of agriculture to children.

Katie’s commitment and passion for linking agriculture with education is fundamental to her role as President of Rural Youth Tasmania, where not only has she nurtured membership growth, training and community support, but has introduced a scholarship program that links Tasmanian schools with local farms and gardens.

Katie is also currently working as Events Management Coordinator at the MS Society of Tasmania, where she manages the MS Readathon and has recently organised a Leadership, Education and Training weekend for Rural Youth.

Katie’s Award ambition is to deliver the Kids Ag Awareness Program (KAAP) as part of Agfest 2013, which focuses on education and activities to promote the importance of agriculture to children. In addition Katie would like to provide an educational booklet ‘a Tasmanian booklet for Tasmanian children’ as part of this program, which includes a mascot KAAP the Kelpie.

Katie will use the Award Bursary to develop, print and promote the KAAP Booklet and to invest in school and curricular activities. Activities will include a ‘farm to plate’ display, ‘plant a seed and take it home’ activity, promotion of farm and fire safety as well as games and reading time.

2013 Northern Territory and National Winner – Giovanna Webb

Giovanna Webb has a degree in Animal Husbandry and Nutrition and has been working in the commercial farming of reptiles for over 25 years, both in Australia and Colombia.

Giovanna’s Award ambition is to empower indigenous women from the Northern Territory, to develop their skills and knowledge in the crocodile industry and become successful in the market place.

On her migration to Australia in 1997, Giovanna established Wildlife Management International with her husband, a company that is committed to primary production and the commercial management of crocodiles. This family owned company is recognised as a global leader in the sustainable use of wild resources and also operates ‘Crocodylus Park’ in Darwin, which is not only a tourist, education and research centre, but is also a crocodile farm which manufactures crocodile fashion leather products and crocodile meat.

In the management of these business’s Giovanna has been committed to creating employment opportunities for disadvantaged and unskilled women at various levels, and believes there are excellent opportunities for women to engage in what has traditionally been a male dominated profession. She also believes there is economic potential for a new industry to be created that specialises in crocodile by-products.

Giovanna’s Award ambition is to empower indigenous women from the Northern Territory, to develop their skills and knowledge in the crocodile industry and become successful in the market place.
Giovanna will use the Award Bursary to provide one-on-one training for indigenous women in the manufacture of crocodile products. She wants to work with the local community and hopes this training will provide sustainable incomes for participants, and provide a platform for other women to take up the challenge and foster integration and inclusion within the workplace.