RURAL women from the east and west of the state have been named finalists in this year's Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation SA Rural Women’s Award.
The award recognises emerging female leaders who have the desire, commitment and leadership potential to make a greater contribution to primary industries and rural communities.
The state finalists are Alexandra Thomas from Port Lincoln, Sarah Powell from Wharminda on the Eyre Peninsula, Simone Kain from Penola and Louise Stock from Lucindale.
Minister for the Status of Women Gail Gago said the finalists had a range of backgrounds and were all passionate about the industries and areas they want to further develop.
"These women from rural SA are an inspiration to us all, as they represent the highest of values and qualities and aspire to make a difference to their communities," Ms Gago said.
"To be nominated for this award is an achievement in itself. I congratulate these four women and urge them to continue making a tangible difference and inspiring others."
Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell said the finalists had shown their dedication to improving the industries they care about.
"These women are keen to make a meaningful contribution to their sectors, which include work, health and safety, educating children about farming, building resilience in the community and inspiring future leaders.
"The government is pleased to support this award as it aligns with our strategic priority of Premium Food and Wine from our Clean Environment by supporting workforce development and growth.
"It also reinforces PIRSA’s Women Influencing Agribusiness and Regions Strategy by supporting women with leadership potential and the desire and commitment to make a greater contribution to their industries and communities," Mr Bignell said.
Now in its 18th year, the award provides rural women the opportunity to realise their visions for primary industries and to meet a network of equally passionate and innovative peers.
The winner will receive a $10,000 bursary provided by the RIRDC to implement a vision for their industry as well as a one-week residential Australian Institute of Company Directors course to build their leadership capabilities.
The 2015 South Australian RIRDC Rural Women’s Award will be announced on Sunday, March 22.
The state winner will then contest the national award in Canberra later this year.
More about the finalists:
Louise is based in Lucindale in the South East. She started her career as a graduate with the former Commonwealth Department of Primary Industries and Energy. Her work over the past 20 years has ranged from the public sector to farming organisations, educational institutions and business and community networks. She has been operating a grazing business partnership with her husband for the past 15 years, as well as her consulting business, Focus Facilitation. Louise’s vision is for a vibrant and resilient regional Australia, where wellbeing is a focus of everyday life. She will use the bursary to complete training in positive psychology and to scope a pilot project to undertake baseline wellbeing measurements and deliver a wellbeing and resilience program in regional SA in collaboration with the Wellbeing and Resilience Centre.
Based in Penola in the South East, Simone comes from a farming background, and has an inherent passion for rural Australia. Simone wants to increase children's knowledge of farming practices and food and fibre production. In July 2014, an educational children’s application that she wrote and co-
created, George the Farmer, was launched. Simone will use the bursary to further develop an educational tool based on George the Farmer, which will include a set of mini games aimed at one to eight-year-olds. The tool will teach children about farming and food and fibre production with activities such as shearing a sheep with their finger and then turning the wool into a jumper or scarf.
Alexandra spent the first 16 years of her life growing up on a sheep station in SA's North-East pastoral region. Based in Port Lincoln, Alexandra established herself as a work health and safety training and consultant. She has worked as a WHS professional in the mining industry, where she became aware of a gap in WHS compliance and culture in primary industries. She has worked with more than 35 primary industries and fisheries businesses across the Eyre Peninsula. Alexandra will use the bursary to identify best practice and engage women in the enabling of a fishing industry-driven, collaborative approach towards fostering a positive, proactive WHS culture.
Sarah is based in Wharminda, on the Eyre Peninsula, where she lives on a cereal cropping and Merino sheep property. Sarah is committed to developing people and communities. As such, she wants to use her local sporting club, the Ports Netball Club, to demonstrate the need to foster regional resilience. Sarah will use the bursary to establish and manage the pilot program ‘Champions Academy’, which will foster personal development and create opportunities to teach aspiring leaders how to carry responsibility, lead by example, act with integrity, think selflessly and demonstrate commitment. This will be delivered through a culture of mentoring that engages, empowers and builds confidence and motivation to take on change-agent roles.