The AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award is Australia’s leading award empowering and celebrating the inclusive and courageous leadership of women involved in Australia’s rural and emerging industries, businesses, and communities, now and into the future.


Over the past 21 years, the Award has gained a significant profile, and is recognised as a program of influence among parliamentarians, industry, media and Award alumni. Each State and Territory Winner receives a $15,000 Westpac grant for their project, business or program, access to professional development opportunities and alumni networks.

AgriFutures Australia is committed to the future growth and advancement of the Award as a means of identifying, celebrating and empowering women. The Rural Women’s Award is one of many AgriFutures Australia initiatives ensuring our rural industries prosper now, and into the future.

Rural Women's Award Gala Dinner & National Announcement

The National Winner and Runner Up of the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award will be announced at the Gala Dinner on Tuesday, 6 September 2022 at the Great Hall, Parliament House in Canberra. The highly anticipated event returns after a two-year hiatus and limited tickets are now on sale.

2020 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award National Winner, Cara Peek will be the event MC and the black-tie evening will be attended by alumni, government officials, industry and private sector representatives and media.

The National Winner and Runner Up will be announced in front of up to 500 guests in the Great Hall, Parliament House. In addition to the $15,000 Westpac grant already awarded to each of the State and Territory Winners, the National Winner will receive a further $20,000 grant, and the National Runner Up a $15,000 grant from Platinum Sponsor Westpac.

Date      Tuesday, 6 September 2022
Time     6:15pm – 11:30pm (AEST)
Great Hall, Parliament House, Canberra
Cost       $230 pp or $1800 for a table of 9.

Who can apply?

  • Applicants must have an existing project, business or program which is live and up and running, or will be live within three months of the application being submitted.
  • The existing project, business or program falls into one or more of these categories: Community, Collaboration, Commercial
  • The existing project, business or program must align to the values of the Award
    • Empathetic
    • Authentic
    • Cooperative
    • Confident
    • Courageous
    • Grit
    • Resourceful
    • Pragmatic
    • Clarity of Purpose
    • Inclusive
    • Innovative
  • Applicants need to be over 18 years old and identify as female
  • Applicants must be Australian citizens or permanent residents
  • Location is no barrier. If you want to create impact, innovate and make a difference and/or contribute to enhancing the prosperity of rural and regional Australia, then we want to hear from you
  • No formal qualifications are required
  • Detailed Award guidelines can be found here.
  • If you know someone who should apply for the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award, please email their name, contact details, and project area to

When we refer to “rural industries” we mean agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

What is the grant?

The $15,000 Westpac grant is awarded to each State/Territory Winner, providing the financial resources to support a project, business or program that will benefit rural industries, businesses and/or communities.

The grant can be used for formal training in leadership and business management; overseas study tours; establishing business plans or pilot programs; developing educational or promotional campaigns; networking at forums and conferences to grow your knowledge of industries and markets; developing training programs; testing information technology initiatives; developing or testing a new business concept or innovation; and publishing books.

The grant cannot be used for buying capital equipment or further tertiary education such as a Diploma, Masters or Doctorate degree.

The National Winner will be awarded an additional $20,000 Westpac grant and National Runner Up, an additional $15,000. These additional funds can be used for the above-mentioned activities, plus may also be used to assist in meeting national commitments such as speaking engagements as the National Winner or Runner Up.

Winners will also have the opportunity to complete a professional development training course, and will attend a three-day workshop with all other state/territory winners, to focus on further professional development skills and refinement of their winning project, business or program.

How do I apply?

  • Online applications for the 2023 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award open on Wednesday, 7 September 2022.
  • Within the application, all selection criteria must be addressed, and contact details of two referees must be supplied.
  • Referees will only be contacted if your application makes it to the final round – face-to-face state/territory interviews.

State/Territory Coordinator contact information is provided below and on the online application form – we encourage you to contact your State/Territory Coordinator before you submit your application. They will be able to guide you through the application process and provide feedback on your project, business or program to ensure it is relevant and meets the criteria.


Date Activity
March-May 2022 2022 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award State/Territory Winners announced
Monday, 18 July –
Thursday, 21 July 2022
2022 State/Territory Winners participate in a three-day workshop and National Selection Panel interviews
Tuesday, 6 September 2022 2022 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Gala Dinner and National Announcement
Wednesday, 7 September 2022 2023 applications open
Wednesday, 19 October 2022 2023 applications close
(Note: NT Applications close Friday, 27 January 2022)
October 2022 – March 2023 2023 phone, and face-to-face interviews take place with the state/territory Selection Panel. State/Territory Winners announced.
July 2023 2023 State/Territory Winners participate in a three-day workshop and National Selection Panel interviews
September 2023 2023 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Gala Dinner and National Announcement

2024 applications open


AgriFutures Australia is thankful for the support of the following Award partners:

Platinum Sponsor
Media Partners
Supporting Agencies


Each state and territory has its own Award Coordinator:

National Award contact
Sheridan Ingold
AgriFutures Australia
0409 611 633

Northern Territory
Marianne White
Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade
08 8999 2181

South Australia
Louise Gleeson
Department of Primary Industries and Regions
08 8214 6039

Western Australia
Rob Leicester
Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development
08 6552 2018 | 0419 921 056

New South Wales & ACT
Lauren Wilkins
Department of Primary Industries
02 9737 4880

Charissa Harris
Department of Natural Resources and Environment
03 6165 4539

Lara McPherson
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions

Carly Waide
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
0477 343 680

2020 State/Territory Winners

Cressida Cains, NSW/ACT

Cressida is a Southern Highlands dairy farmer who is passionate about promoting a profitable and secure future for Australian dairy farmers.

Her project involves creating an online platform and support hub that includes business tools, information and education called Dairy Cocoon that will assist dairy farmers to develop and produce their own unique branded products.

Elisha Parker, QLD

Elisha is the Co-Founder of, a marketing and advertising site with an interactive catalogue for sales and auctions.

Her project is based around broadening the scope and reach of, which includes developing her website’s functionality to allow agents to catalogue lots at bull sales, complete with videos and supplementary data.

Kelly Barnes, VIC

Kelly is a farmer from Dunkeld who is passionate about boosting the resilience of her local community by building connections through animals.

Her project involves building a Working Dog Training School in Dunkeld with the aim of bringing people together, not only to improve their dog handling skills but also to break down social barriers and aid mental health.

Stephanie Schmidt, SA

Stephanie is a Clinical Psychologist and farmer, who is passionate about building resilience in regional Australia to support communities.

Her project is centred around developing a resilience program made specifically for farming couples, families and individuals, with the aim of see psychological flexibility grow throughout the rural sector.

Cara Peek, WA

Cara is a Broome-based lawyer, entrepreneur and social innovator who is passionate about driving opportunities for rural and remote people to empower the Aboriginal community.

Her project aims to progress the Saltwater Academy, which celebrates the heritage of the Kimberley Aboriginal pastoral industry and provides related emotional, economic and cultural initiatives, including training and employment opportunities.

Amy Kirke, NT

Amy is a Darwin-based Marine Biologist who is passionate about sustainable industries and education with emphasis on supporting and uplifting women in her community.

Her project aims to provide rural communities with much needed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) engagement through science workshops, particularly focussing on the remote areas of the Northern Territory.

Karen Brock, TAS

Karen is a Winkleigh-based specialist in plant tissue culture who is passionate about plant tissue culture and food security production systems.

Her project will be focussed around her work to reduce plant input costs as well as producing disease-resistant and climate tolerant plants, and crops that produce higher yields per hectare.

Alumni Committee of State Chairs

Ann Ross (QLD), Catherine Marriott (VIC), Donna Digby (NT), Jeanette Long (SA), Jo Palmer (NSW/ACT), Karen Brock (TAS) and Lucy Anderton (WA) form the Rural Women’s Award Alumni Committee of State Chairs.

This exciting new committee was one of the outcomes of working alongside the Rural Women’s Award Alumni Advisory Panel to review data, listen, explore, unpack, and reinvigorate the very important Rural Women’s Award Program.

It was decided that the Committee of State Chairs would replace the Alumni Advisory Panel, with one Chair in each state or territory to champion the Award, grow the profile of the Award and create connections and opportunities for all Alumni.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Sit on the state/territory selection panel each year to work alongside applicants and provide support along the way.
  • Promote the Award and new Alumni initiatives.
  • Promote the new Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant.
  • Drive connections within the Alumni and with other women’s focused programs in each state/territory.
  • Help with fostering connections across Award Alumni in their state/territory.
  • Help facilitate and organise events for Alumni in their specific state/territory.
  • Live and promote program values.

Related Resources

Meet the 2020 Winners

Meet the 2020 AgriFutures Rural Women's Award winners.

Read more

Meet the 2019 Winners

Meet the 2019 AgriFutures Rural Women's Award winners.

Read more

Meet the 2018 winners

Meet the 2018 AgriFutures Rural Women's Award winners.

Read more

Meet previous winners

Meet the winners of the AgriFutures Rural Women's Award from previous years.

Read more