As featured in the 2018 Country Web Annual.
As a businesswoman with significant experience at a senior executive level across Australian agriculture, Lorraine has achieved success in her agricultural management endeavours.
Currently, Lorraine is the Program Director for Australian Government’s Farm Cooperatives & Collaboration Program, referred to as ‘Farming Together’. She is also the Director of Strategic Projects for Southern Cross University, acting as a conduit between industry and research, and the Associate Director of the Organics Research Centre, delivering sustainable and regenerative agriculture to the world.
On her weekends, Lorraine is a beef cattle trader from Ebor in the New England Tablelands of NSW turning out up to 1000 steers per annum. She is also Director of Moffat Falls Pty Ltd and Yaraandoo which operates a number of successful tourism, agricultural, and health businesses in both the New England and North Coast Regions of NSW. Her company has been running mental health respite retreats for carers for more than 16 years, providing structured well-being respite programs to more than 2000 carers, and providing them with coping tools.
Lorraine is currently completing a PhD in Ecological Economics through the University of New England. She has three amazing boys aged 23, 21 and 14 who she believes are her real legacy to the world.
What motivated you to become involved?
The more you give, the more you receive. I have always been an active community person, however my community has now stretched to all of rural Australia. I like to make a difference where ever I put my efforts. If I’m not making a difference I move on to where I can. I like to be at the cutting edge of new ideas and movements.
What do you get out of being in these roles?
Extensive networks of ‘can do’ people. Experience in many industries and sectors and an ever increasing ‘box of tools’ to address the most complex, wicked problems that face civilisation. Each experience builds my capability for the next challenge I will need to face. For some reason I seem to be attracted to challenging projects that have the capacity to disrupt the status quo.
Have you experienced any obstacles?
I have experienced many obstacles! Having worked in government, universities and for large corporates, they don’t always move at the pace that I like to get things done. I have had to learn to be patient. I spend the time getting all the stakeholders on board and on the same page from the grass roots up so that the change is a smooth transition.
Pushback from conservative folk who don’t like change or disruption to their norms. And, pushback from those protecting their patch at all costs. I aim to be collaborative not competitive. I tend to go round sharp objects and obstacles as I am highly strategic and focused on the vision. Outcomes driven really.
Where do you get your support?
My family, particularly my children. My friends. My farm which energises me and is the basis of who I am. And of course I absolutely couldn’t do it without my staff and team. This is particularly evident in the performance of ‘Farming Together’. We were supposed to support 2000 farmers, fishers and foresters. We supported 28 500. We were supposed to give expert support to 100 of the best group projects in the country, we gave expert support to 730 groups. We were supposed to fund 15 of the best projects, we funded 51. This extraordinary legacy called ‘Farming Together’, could not have been achieved without a team of dedicated people working towards a common vision.
What is your message to other women wanting to be more involved in decision-making?
Know your craft and then have conviction to put your ideas forward. Be confident in your persona, your voice and your tone. Be inclusive not exclusive. Put your name forward for a start. Too many women say they are not experienced enough or don’t have the right qualifications. If in the criteria they don’t have one of the dot points, they don’t apply at all! Sorry but the fellas always say yes, even if they can’t do the job! Show your passion, it will energise the room. No one has ever learned anything without having a go and making the mistakes, so just have a go.