By Ted O’Kane, NSW DPI Rural Resilience Officer
It’s a long way from the rolling green fields of County Cork, Ireland, to the often challenging landscape of the Narrawa district, near Crookwell on the Southern Tablelands. But for local community advocate and farm woman, Pam Kensit, the journey has been life changing, revealing and on-going.
Colourful and extroverted, the former film maker, by her own admission, is no stereotypical Aussie farmer’s wife, despite having happily spent the past 25 years working and living with husband, David, and their two children on their 1600ha grazing property “Moorabinda”.
‘I was happy to go through new doors and leave the baggage behind. But I didn’t want to adopt the typical farmers wife image–the collar-up shirts and the labelled clothing. That’s okay for some but it wasn’t for me,’ Pam said.
‘Maintaining my individualism has been at a cost but it has also been my strength,’ she said, referring to the clash of culture and style she represented to her wider family and local community members.
That strength, born of sometimes bitter experience, is now forming her resolve to advocate for rural communities and particularly for the role women can play to support their own and other farm families.
Supported and mentored by the DPI’s Rural Resilience Program, Pam is looking forward to the opportunity to relate her story, and offer some insights, when she address the Tumut Rural Women’s Forum on April 29. Organised by the Riverina Highlands Landcare network through Local Land Services, the forum aims to provide local farm women with practical tips on dealing with the daily challenges of farming.
Rural resilience officer at Goulburn, Ted O’Kane, said Pam was an obvious candidate when the DPI was asked to nominate and sponsor a speaker for the forum.
Forum organiser, Cherie White, wanted a “real” farm woman with identifiable experiences and a genuine story.
‘I had known of Pam through her local community work and was introduced to her by local Rural Adversity Mental Health Program officer, Jennie Keioskie. Pam had completed a Mental Health First Aid course with Jennie, and having had her own experience with depression, was keen to find avenues to get rural people talking more openly about mental health and other personal issues,’ Ted explained.
‘Pam’s own story is quite fascinating in many ways and her determination to not only highlight the challenges of farming, but to find solutions and act on them, makes her an ideal speaker for the forum.’
One of the tasks Rural Resilience Program is to promote and mentor local leaders and beyond the forum, Pam intends to promote a range of activities in her local area.
She has a strong interest in rural men’s health–physical and mental–and is keen to find ways to reach “those men on the margins who often fall through the cracks”.