2024 Winners

Rebecca Keeley

Rebecca Keeley is a dedicated allied health professional with a Master of Business Administration (Distinction) from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor of Speech Pathology from Flinders University. With hands-on experience from remote First Nations communities in the Northern Territory to farming communities on the Hay Plains, Rebecca is deeply committed to improving allied health services for children and families in rural areas.

Her passion drove her to found Yarn, an innovative digital health platform addressing geographical barriers, service delivery challenges, and speech pathology waitlists nationwide. Yarn aims to empower clinicians and patients through evidence-based, gamified programs, providing parents with tools to support their child’s communication while awaiting services. Rebecca envisions Yarn as a catalyst for revitalising equitable healthcare systems across rural and remote Australia.

Tanya Egerton

Tanya Egerton is dedicated to empowering the entrepreneurial aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across remote Australia. Through her role as founder and CEO of Circulanation, Tanya has spearheaded the development of the Remote Opshop Project.

The Remote Opshop Project supports the establishment of a network of opshops in remote First Nations communities, providing access to affordable essential items and small business training while generating independent funding that supports culturally focused projects. The opshops are community-owned and led, fostering empowerment and self-determination underpinned by circular economy principles.

Funding support from Westpac through the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award will enable the development of a First Nations Leadership Council, responsible for conveying community needs, establishing a decision-making framework, and creating an impact measurement framework aligned with anticipated social, cultural, economic, and environmental outcomes for First Nations peoples in remote Australia.

Kate Lamason

Kate Lamason is the co-founder and director of Little Tuna, the Cairns-based company manufacturing Australia’s first 100% Australian caught, owned and made preserved tuna.

Kate, alongside her fisher husband Rowan, was shocked to learn 99 percent of the more than 50,000 tonnes of tuna consumed by Australians each year was imported, so she decided to launch Little Tuna and change the game for tuna lovers right around the world.

Together, they spent years researching the market and developing recipes to spearhead Australia’s first canned tuna company since offshore canning, producing an award-winning product and boosting the profile of the local tuna industry.

As Queensland’s AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award winner, Kate will use her grant from Westpac to continue championing the Australian tuna industry, educating consumers on local fishers’ produce and their world-leading, robust and sustainable methods of fishing.

Nikki Atkinson

Nikki Atkinson is founder and designer of Horrocks Vale Collections; a sustainable Merino wool wedding dress and special occasions wear brand.

Living on the family property in the Flinders Ranges, her passion is to showcase fine Merino wool in an innovative way, revolutionising the wedding industry and making it more sustainable using an environmentally friendly and versatile fibre and taking it on the journey from Australian farms to couture fashion.

Married to a Merino producer, Nikki understands what it takes to develop extra-fine Merino fibre and flock – it can take generations to create a world-class, premium product. Thanks to the South Australian AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Westpac grant, Nikki will continue to champion the fine merino wool industry in the world of wedding dresses.

Belle Binder

Belle Binder is a passionate advocate for the value and importance of agriculture. Driven by her love for farming and commitment to making a difference for both farms and workers, Belle has developed a first-of-its-kind proactive approach to address worker productivity and experience by blending travel activities, collegiality, and continuity of work across diverse farms.

Promoting productive, tested workers for farmers and coordinated travel experiences and providing friendly farm environments for workers, the Farm Work Loop ensures seamless operations, transitions between farms, and consistent quality of productive workers for farmers.

The initiative offers both local Australians and international backpackers the chance for a hassle-free working holiday experience as they traverse the stunning agricultural and natural landscapes of Tasmania.

Thanks to the Tasmanian AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Westpac grant, Belle will be able to make the agricultural industry more accessible by establishing and promoting the Farm Work Loop more widely.

Grace Larson

Grace Larson, a paediatric critical care nurse with more than 17 years’ experience, has teamed up with her sister to address the unfair health disadvantages faced by rural children through The Sisterhood Project.

The mission is simple: to change the health outcomes for bush kids.

The Sisterhood Project delivers life-saving skills to parents and caregivers across rural Australia, including free infant and child first aid, CPR, and how to identify preventable illness to help decrease the need for rural children to seek specialised services in urban areas.

Thanks to the Victorian AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Westpac grant, Grace can continue to save more children’s lives through education, and importantly, breaking down barriers to that education.

Mandy Walker

Mandy Walker is a dedicated advocate for family businesses in regional areas. Alongside her husband, she co-manages Walkers Diesel Services in Wongan Hills, specialising in heavy-duty diesel repairs and maintenance across the agricultural, earthmoving, transport, and mining sectors. Their business also encompasses engineering services, manufacturing chaser bins, and offering machining, fabrication, and repair solutions.

Mandy’s focus lies in developing a collaborative business model for Wheatbelt engineering enterprises to integrate into the defence industry’s supply chain. She aims to buffer regional businesses against the seasonal fluctuations of agriculture and enhance their participation in the lucrative defence industry supply chain.

With a vision for regional prosperity, Mandy will use her Westpac grant to help ensure that local businesses seize opportunities in the sovereign capability agenda, fostering long-term economic diversity and resilience within their communities.