The Rural Women’s Gathering is an annual event that takes place in a different NSW rural location each year which seeks to provide rural women with support, information and skills to enable them to address the myriad of challenges they face as a result of living in a rural location in Australia. The Rural Women’s Gathering also aims to recognise the importance of women in agriculture and provide a focus on social and community issues.
Each gathering is organised by a local committee with support from the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (NSW DPI) Rural Women’s Network (RWN) and in collaboration with their local community. The weekend includes a range of activities including workshops, talks from guest speakers, a gala dinner, market stalls, tours of the local area and opportunities to network. It reflects the unique culture, history, industry, tourism and environment of the local community.
Wanting to better understand the social and economic value of these annual community events, the RWN worked with the Not For Profit Social Ventures Australia (SVA), using the internationally recognised methodology framework – Social Return on Investment (SROI) to derive the value for the Women’s Gathering.
The focus of the SROI analysis was the Coolamon Gathering in the Riverina that took place on 12-14 September 2014. The theme of the Gathering was ‘Heritage with Heart’ and approximately 180 rural women attended.
An important key finding of the analysis was that women who participated in the Gathering felt more connected, inspired, empowered, supported, resilient and able to have a voice about issues that matter to them. As a result, they are able to look after themselves and their families better, support each other and engage within and between rural communities more effectively.
Importantly, the analysis found that for every $1 invested the social and economic return is $2.20.
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