Role models for wool

Guest Blog submitted by Lynne Strong,  National Program Director – Picture You in Agriculture

The Australian wool industry derives great benefits from participants who stand as role models for the industry’s future leaders. 


At 20 Peta Bradley is well on the way to securing her career within the Australian wool industry. Currently studying a Bachelor of Rural Science at the University of New England, she has come from a life on the land to the realm of academia with aspirations of giving back to the world of wool. She envisages a career with extension work before ultimately returning to the family farm. It is an immersion in the industry made richer by the role models she turns to.

“I would define a role model as someone who leads by example,” Peta says, “and whose actions reflect their values. Encouraging to others, patience and willingness to give their time – these are the core values I see in a role model.” Positive role models can come from all facets of life – from family, community, career or from the wider public arena – and each has different lessons to impart.


The Bradley Family run a mixed farming property near Armatree in northern New South Wales where cropping stands alongside a commercial Merino flock and the New Armatree Border Leicester Stud. With her father an agronomist and her mother a talented stockwoman, Peta and her brother grew up with a hands-on approach to agriculture. A love for the land and the sheep was further developed at high school where Peta was involved in Junior Judging and agricultural shows. However she cites her mother Jenny as being the most influential role model for her career with wool.

“My mother is definitely a role model,” Peta says. “Being a rural woman who works on the farm and is a major decision maker was pretty unique when I was growing up. Not a lot of kids at school had mothers like her. Mum was the Chair of the Toowareenah Prime Lamb Association (and the only woman on the board) and now she sits on the board of the Central West LLS, and while there are other females in the organisation she is one of the few representing at a producer level. She’s not afraid to sit in a boardroom full of men and give her opinion. She is pretty impressive to watch and she has definitely led me to where I am now. I’d like to think I encompass some of those same qualities and values.”

Jenny Bradley was recognised for her work in the wool industry in 2005 when she was awarded the RIRDC NSW Woman of the Year and she credits this accolade for giving her the confidence to take on more positions at board level and within the community. This assurance she passes on: “I have always told my kids they can do anything in the world if they have goals and work towards them,” she says. “With Peta’s school marks she could have done anything (career-wise) and agriculture is fortunate she has chosen it. Agriculture needs the young, enthusiastic and tech-savvy.”

Peta credits Emily King at Australian Wool Innovation as another role model. Emily manages education and extension for on-farm research and development and spends her days talking to people across the entire wool supply chain. She first met Peta through Art4Agriculture’s Young Farming Champions (YFC) program. “I read her resume and recognised the breadth of opportunities she had availed herself of,” Emily says. “To see a young person who had obviously been proactive about sourcing opportunities both practical and academic was impressive. She is enthusiastic and super keen on promoting sheep and wool to anyone.” Although Emily does not see herself as a role model she is flattered someone like Peta, for who she has enormous respect, sees her in that light. For Emily, Peta is a role model, and this illustrates the mutual benefits of strong relationships in the wool industry.

At the YFC workshops Emily offered constant support and encouragement to Peta and was instrumental in her becoming part of events such as Agvision and AWI’s wool education stand at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.  “Emily is another really strong woman, like my mother, who is very encouraging,” Peta says “and I admire the fact she seeks out opportunities I would be suited to. Her willingness to give her time and talk to me is something I really value.”

While her mother and Emily have been influential in a direct way Peta recognises character traits in others that cross careers. “At the recent Olympic Games Cate Campbell had the weight of a nation on her shoulders, but when she didn’t swim as well as she had hoped, she still stood up in a media interview and admitted as much,” Peta recalls. “It makes me take a step back and think ‘wow, these athletes are pretty selfless and gutsy’ and they are not just doing something for themselves but for their country.”

And Peta, too, is doing something for others and becoming a role model for the next generation. Her involvement in agricultural shows has continued. At the University of New England she was one of a group of women who re-instated the sheep section at the Armidale Show and through this she actively inspires younger people to become involved in Junior Judging. She has also been part of The Archibull Prize, which takes the story of wool into the classrooms. “I am quite humbled I am moving into a position of a role model myself,” she says, “but it is also exciting because I get to promote youth in agriculture in an industry I love.”

For thousands of years the aboriginal people strengthened their culture through the passing of knowledge and so the wool industry is strengthened by characters such as Jenny, Emily and Peta. These women all possess the selfless quality of giving back to agriculture by passing along their own knowledge, and agriculture and wool can only be the better for it.

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Farmer and food blogger takes out national Rural Women’s Award

Source: RIRDC 14 September 2016

Sophie Hansen, a deer farmer, food blogger and author from Orange, NSW has been announced as the national winner of the 2016 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award. The award celebrates brilliant women and the positive impact they have on rural industries, businesses and communities.

The announcement was made by Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce in front of 300 industry leaders, parliamentarians and award alumnae at a gala dinner at Parliament House on Wednesday.

Sophie Hansen accepting her award from Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce.

2016 Australian RIRDC Rural Women’s Award winner Sophie Hansen accepting her award from Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce.

Sophie Hansen, as the NSW State winner, received $10,000 to develop her project ‘My Open Kitchen’, a unique online learning course assisting food producers to embrace the power of social media to share their food stories and better connect with their consumers. As the national winner, she receives a further $10,000 to strengthen her leadership skills and share her experience with others around the country.

Sophie said celebrating Australian farmers and the provenance of quality local food is the inspiration for her project.

“My ever-constant goal is to support and celebrate Australian farmers by encouraging consumers to seek out their produce as directly as possible, then cook and share it!”

Western Australian finalist and seed producer, Kalyn Fletcher, was named national runner-up and will use her $10,000 bursary to pursue her passion to expand tropical agriculture in Australia’s north. Kalyn will undertake a study tour of the Cerrado Region of Brazil where she will learn from South America’s highly successful tropical agriculture industry and bring new ideas and practices home to the Kimberley’s Ord River region.

Sophie Hansen & Kalyn Fletcher

2016 Australian RIRDC Rural Women’s Award winner Sophie Hansen accepting her award from Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce.

Kalyn says the knowledge and insights she gains from her tour will be shared with producers in her region to promote and help grow the success of the industry.

“Tropical agriculture is an industry Australia should be excited about. We are achieving amazing things up here in the North, the opportunities are endless,” she said.

RIRDC Managing Director, John Harvey congratulates Sophie on winning the national Award and said her desire to support farmers to use social media to capture their stories is an example of rural leadership at its best.

“Sophie will be a brilliant ambassador for the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award. She has the talent to create real change through influencing the conversation around educating consumers on where their food comes from and to buy local. This is a really positive message that will benefit our farmers and the broader food industry. Sophie’s passion is contagious,” he said.

Mr Harvey also congratulates Kalyn on being the national runner-up of this prestigious Award.

“Kalyn’s aspiration to further the expansion of northern Australia is exciting. She has the passion, drive and determination to make a difference in her region and to the wider Australian tropical agriculture industry. Kalyn should be commended not just for what she has already done for rural Australia, but for her leadership potential in the future.”

Sophie, Kalyn and each of our deserving 2016 state finalists will join an esteemed alumnae of more than 200 women recognised through this Award. Each are from diverse backgrounds around the nation who contribute in many different ways. They’re community volunteers, farmers, business leaders and industry representatives,” he said.


State Finalists in the 2016 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award

The Award’s Platinum Sponsor, Westpac Agribusiness also congratulated Sophie Hansen on taking out the national Award.

“Westpac Agribusiness congratulates Sophie for the innovative work she has done in developing My Open Kitchen. The Rural Women’s Award is highly recognised and regarded across rural, regional and remote Australia and held in high esteem by industry, government and community. The recognition the Award brings is important as it provides women with a strong platform to bring about innovative change and help in continuing to build resilient rural, regional and remote communities. Importantly, the award highlights the vital leadership role women play across all levels of business and industry,” said Susan Bower, Head of Agribusiness.

“We are excited to support Sophie as she continues to build and grow My Open Kitchen, and look forward to seeing all she achieves in the next twelve months, and into the future. We congratulate all the state finalists on their achievements and look forward to following their future success.

Westpac Agribusiness is proud to once again be the Platinum Partner of the Rural Women’s Award.  It is another way in which we can shine a light on the vital role women play and help to inspire and promote our future champions of change within Australian agriculture,” Ms Bower said.

2016 NSW-ACT Award winner and finalists

Applications for the 2017 Rural Women’s Award are open. If you or someone you know has a strong commitment or desire to making a real difference to rural Australia, then apply or nominate them now. It truly is a life changing opportunity. Applications close on Monday, 31 October 2016.


About the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award

The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award is an initiative of the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation in partnership with the state and territory agencies responsible for agriculture, primary industries and resources. The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award is proudly supported by Westpac Agribusiness and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

This leading Award serves to acknowledge the vital role women play in rural businesses, industries and communities, recognising women that lead their communities, bring about change, drive innovation and build resilient rural communities.

The Award is open to all women involved in primary industries. State and Territory winners receive a $10,000 financial bursary to implement their Award idea. Each state and territory winner will participate in leadership development opportunities such as the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) course and will be supported to develop an individual integrated leadership plan, providing a platform for recipients to continue to deliver a long term contribution and improvement to regional and rural Australia.

A national winner and runner-up is selected from the state winners with a further $10,000 awarded to support their professional development and contribution to primary industries.

For more information and details on how to apply contact Rural Women’s Network on 02 6391 3620 or email:

Stay tuned for information on a RWA National Webinar which will give interested women more information about the Award and why it is a life-changing experience. The webinar is scheduled for Tuesday 11 October at 1 pm (more information to come).

Posted in bursary, RIRDC rural women's award, rural women, Women leaders | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

NSW wins National 2016 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Accomplished food and lifestyle writer from Orange, Sophie Hansen, has won the 2016 National Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Award at a gala ceremony in Canberra overnight.

Sophie & Tim Hansen

Sophie & Tim Hansen

Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair, said Sophie’s win was well-deserved recognition of her efforts to promote food and agribusiness, and her inclusive approach to working with women in rural communities.

“Sophie’s extraordinary talents in the food and social media space are indicative of the innovative work being undertaken right across regional NSW,” Mr Blair said.

“Her project ‘My Open Kitchen’ shares the important story from paddock to plate and encourages farming businesses to use social media to strengthen rural communities.”

Sophie’s win follows in the footsteps of Central West landholder and sustainable agriculture trailblazer Pip Job, who in 2014 became the first NSW woman to win the National RIRDC Rural Women’s Award.

Sophie’s prize includes a bursary of $10,000 and the opportunity to share her vision and business model with communities across Australia.

Nominations for the 2017 NSW-ACT RIRDC Rural Women’s Award are currently open and close at the end of October 2016.

For more information about how to apply or for access to a mentor, email: or call 02 6391 3620.

Posted in bursary, farming, Grants and funding, inspirational, leadership, RIRDC rural women's award, rural women, RuralWomen | Leave a comment

Encouraging men to tackle mental health

Mens Health written on the roadIn Australia, one in eight men are likely to experience depression in their lifetime and one in five men are likely to experience anxiety in a 12 month period.  On this very day, seven Australians will take their own lives and five of them will be men.  It’s a substantiated fact that many suicides occur as a result of unresolved mental health issues or treatable mental trauma.

The social norms of masculinity play an important role in the gender differences of suicide.  Men have a greater tendency not to recognise or respond to their own negative emotions or distress, which in turn may directly result in clinical depression.  This is partly due to the perceived stigma associated with ‘mental health’.

For too many men, depression and anxiety has been associated with weakness, and that is synonymous with failure.  The implication of seeing anxiety and depression as a weakness is that help-seeking can be seen as a failure to ‘handle the problem’.

Without understanding the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, many men are unlikely to know when crisis point is reached.

Through tackling the rate of depression and anxiety in men, reducing stigma, facilitating a change in men’s help-seeking behaviour and challenging perceptions of masculinity, it is believed that a reduction in the male suicide rate can be achieved.

Beyondblue commissioned a significant study into understanding what stops men identifying and dealing with mental health issues.  The Hall and Partners/Open Mind Men’s Help Seeking Behaviour Report identified eight approaches to reaching men:

  • Take the mental health language out of the communication
  • Show male role models of hope and recovery
  • Connect physical symptoms with emotional issues
  • Meet men where they are, through humour, targeted media (sport), use of the internet
  • Promote opportunities for community connection
  • Coach men and the people around them on what to look for and what to do
  • Provide men the opportunity to self-assess and take action

Importantly, the research found that re-framing the effeminate term ‘getting help’ to a more positive and actioned-based one of ‘taking action’ is key in changing mindset and encouraging men taking charge of their mental health.

For more information or if you or someone you know needs support visit: Beyondblue or phone 1300 22 4636.

Posted in anxiety, Communities, Depression, Families, Health, Men, mental health, Research, resilience, suicide | Leave a comment

Dairy Assistance Guide – Support for dairy farmers

dairyThe Department of Primary Industries’ Rural Resilience Program has produced an Assistance Guide for Dairy Farmers.

This useful guide provides information on key regional contacts, financial support, funding information, business support and health and well-being.

It also includes tips, tools and resources for farmers facing challenging times.

The information is available on the Rural Resilience Program’s website at:…/r…/RRP/support-for-dairy-farmers

Posted in agriculture, bursary, Cattle, Communities, education and training, Families, farming, Grants and funding, Health, mental health, primary industries, resilience, Rural Australia, Rural Support Workers, small business, Social welfare | Leave a comment

4 days left to nominate your Hidden Treasure!

Have you nominated your Hidden Treasure yet?hidden treasures poster image sml

There are only FOUR days left to nominate a Hidden Treasure from your community.

Volunteers are so important to our regions. They contribute over $5 billion annually to NSW and without them many important community services would struggle to survive.

There are so many women working hard behind the scenes in our neighbourhoods and communities to make them a better place.

Many of us know a volunteer and this is your chance to give something back to them.

The annual Hidden Treasures Honour Roll recognises and celebrates our volunteers and captures their stories in a special lasting tribute.

Over 100 inspiring women were nominated last year from a range of services such as Red Cross, the Cancer Council, Hospital Auxiliaries, Bush Fire Brigades, Meals on Wheels and Rescue Services.

We need your help to uncover new stories of amazing women for this year’s Honour Roll.

Nominating is easy. It only takes a few minutes and it’s a wonderful way to acknowledge and say ‘thank you’ to our Hidden Treasures.

Why not make a cuppa and take five minutes to nominate your Hidden Treasure today?

All women nominated will be included in the 2016 Hidden Treasures Honour Roll to be announced at the annual NSW Rural Women’s Gathering being held in Broken Hill from 28-30 October.

For more information or to complete an online nomination visit: or call 02 6391 3612.


Posted in Communities, Community Hero, Elderly, Environment, Families, hidden treasure, inspirational, mental health, Mentor, NSW Rural Women's Gathering, NSW Rural Women's Network, resilience, Rural Australia, rural women, rural women's gathering, RuralWomen, RWN, Social welfare, stories, Sustainability, Volunteering, women, Women leaders, women's networks | Leave a comment

What rural women are saying

CaptureTo better understand the current challenges impacting rural women, NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) Rural Women’s Network (RWN) engaged directly with 350 women at the 2015 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering at Glen Innes.

Over the Gathering weekend women were asked to identify key challenges for rural women in NSW, many of which were then workshopped into possible ideas for action.

The ‘2015 Glen Innes Communique’ was produced as a record of these discussions.

The five most mentioned key challenges were:

  1. The tyranny of distance, lack of public transport and travel time impacts on opportunities to engage in sports, community activities; take up employment, access childcare and education services;
  2. Access to health services;
  3. Improving access to internet and mobile telecommunications;
  4. In tough times – coping oneself and supporting men and families; and
  5. Gender equality and acknowledgement of the role of women in agriculture is still an issue.

It is hoped that the Communique will encourage innovation and action across government, industry and the community who all have their role to play in improving the lives of women and families living in rural, regional and remote areas of NSW.

To read about the women’s innovative solutions for action, visit the RWN website at:  to view the 2015 Glen Innes Communique.

Posted in agriculture, Communities, education and training, Elderly, Environment, Families, Gender equality, Health, internet & telecommunications, mental health, NSW Rural Women's Gathering, primary industries, resilience, Rural Australia, rural women, rural women's gathering, RuralWomen, RWN, Social welfare, women | Leave a comment

The Ripple Effect: Farmers helping farmers beat suicide

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Do your bit to turn the negative ripple of suicide into a positive ripple of support.

The Ripple Effect is about farmers helping farmers. We know through our own experience, that no one tells a story about the ups and downs of life on the land better than farmers themselves.

We also know that people in farming communities are renowned for helping each other—that’s what keeps small communities alive. The Ripple Effect combines the strength of storytelling with rural people’s natural enthusiasm for supporting each other.

The Ripple Effect is a platform for people from the farming community to tell the story of their experience of suicide—whether someone they know has taken their own life, whether they have thought about or attempted to take their own life, whether they have cared for someone who has attempted to take their own life or whether they have been touched by suicide in some other way.

By sharing a story of what has helped you, you can help others learn and take action to make positive changes for their health and wellbeing. We know that this kind of communication helps protect people’s wellbeing. Participation is anonymous, personalised and with people who understand what life in a rural farming community is really like.

This is what you will find on the Ripple Effect:
People’s stories: The video stories and postcards by members of the farming community tell us about their experience of suicide, and are particularly powerful.
Add your story: Tell us your what you’re thinking on one of our online postcards. Remember—the Ripple Effect begins with you!
Know the facts: The Ripple Effect has plenty of valuable information to help you look after yourself and others, including videos from health professionals and stigma experts from farming communities.
Take action: Turn information into practical action and set your personal goals. You can print them off to stick on the fridge!
Access resources: Learn about what resources are available in your area. The personalised nature of the Ripple Effect tells you where you can get support locally, in your state and nationally.

Visit The Ripple Effect to find out more information and how you can be involved.

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Watch this space: Bus services to Broken Hill Women’s Gathering

2009 NSWRWG logoNSW Department of Primary Industries are pleased to announce two bus services to the 2016 Broken Hill Women’s Gathering, 28-30 October.


Have you planned your travel to the 2016 Broken Hill Women’s Gathering yet?

If not, why not grab a few friends and join us on the Gathering bus!

Northern bus pick up locations:

  • Orange
  • Dubbo
  • Narromine
  • Nyngan
  • Cobar
  • Wilcannia

Southern bus pick up locations:

  • Wagga
  • Narrandera
  • Hay
  • Balranald
  • Wentworth
  • Coombah

Registrations can be made through the Rural Women’s Network from July.

Enquiries to Emma Regan on or 02 63913612.

More details coming soon……….



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Wanted – 45 local board members

join-my-team-linkedin-webLocal Land Services is looking for 45 enthusiastic and progressive people to join 11 local boards. We are keen to attract people willing to make a difference to land management in NSW, with an aim to help us improve primary production within healthy landscapes.

Last week the Hon Niall Blair MLC, Minister for Primary Industries announced the start of the recruitment process for the Ministerially-appointed members, with applications open until 20 June 2016.

There are 45 positions available across all 11 regions, including Chairs of all boards. Board members who were elected will continue until a new election is held in the first half of 2017.

If you know anyone who might be interested, please encourage them to visit our website and download the information package.

Posted in agriculture, boards and committees, Communities, Local Land Services, primary industries, Rural Australia | Leave a comment