2000 Winners

2000 New South Wales Winner – Diana Gibbs

The Riverina Project-Wool Producers Marketing Wool to the Consumer

Diana Gibbs is a wool producer and cofounder and director of Riverina Wool Growers. RWG was established in 1994 for the purpose of expanding and deepening wool producers activities to include sourcing wool, wool yarns and woollen products to its own design and specifications and directly marketing the final apparel products.

Diana’s vision was for Australian wool producers to take more responsibility and control of their product by becoming more closely linked to their markets.

The objectives of her overall project were for a group of wool producers, RWG, to form a commercial operation that would:

  • Develop, produce and market a collection of high quality, branded woolen garments.
  • Deliver these garments to a carefully defined market via a multi-channel approach.
  • Create significant sales revenue and sufficient profits to provide a consistent commercial return for all partners.

The project in doing so would also:

  • Create a successful joint venture partnership between RWG and representatives of the Wiradjuri people.
  • Create a world class wool textile supply chain.
  • Support education and training opportunities for the Wiradjuri people.

Her proposed activity represented the first critical step in the total project, that being to prepare a Business Plan to define and describe the wool marketing venture. The bursary was used to finance the Business Plan and also contributed to some preliminary promotional material, including media information kits presented at the Olympic Games in September 2000 and information produced for marketing investigations into the UK in October 2000.

The Business Plan was prepared in late 2000/early 2001 and was reviewed by independent consultants to ensure its objectivity and rigor. The Business Plan addressed key components of the project, including business background, vision, products, the market and marketing plan, business operations, ownership and management, risk factors along with financial considerations. A careful investigation of the demographics of the potential market available in the UK was undertaken to define the project’s target consumers and total available market.

The product is a collaborative effort between RWG and the Wiradjuri people, who provided some ideas as to elements of their culture that could be used as design themes, with one of the Elders painting an interpretation of these themes onto fabric, which was then provided to designers in the UK for incorporation into garments.

RWG is in the process of seeking an agreement to form a joint venture with the Council of Elders representing the Wiradjuri, which will enable indigenous themes to be incorporated in the design of knitwear apparel.

RWG will now put in place a management team with expertise in European and Australian markets, to manage the design, manufacturing, distribution and marketing of high quality women’s apparel.

Diana’s knowledge of the project and its market has grown enormously as a result of this Award, as has her negotiating and marketing skills, along with her contacts and networks within the international wool and fashion industry.

The Business Plan confirmed the merit and real potential of this total project, which once completed has the ability to resolve major wool textile supply chain issues. The supply chain will, not only, be much shorter and therefore more time responsive, but will provide strong market signals from designers and manufacturers direct back to producers. For wool producers, the project will provide for a landmark change in culture, allowing them to take responsibility of their product throughout the supply chain, and allow them to not just sell a commodity, but to market a product.

This project has provided a unique insight into issues facing wool producers and into the potential for commercial joint ventures with indigenous Australians. Many lessons have been learnt, as two groups aim to achieve something that neither could do separately. There are perhaps also some lessons in this project for the reconciliation process.

2000 Victoria Winner – Rowena Doyle

The Development and Implementation of an Accredited Mohair Classing Course

Rowena Doyle owns and operates, in family partnership, the largest mohair enterprise in Victoria and has been at the forefront of developing the industry and its markets, including domestic markets for goat meat and value added craft markets for the skins.

Rowena’s vision for her industry was one where best practice is followed by all producers and where producers retrieve a fair share of the end price of their product.

The major objectives of her proposed activity were to:

  • Improve mohair producers’ classing standards by developing an accredited mohair-classing course, which involved flexible delivery and practical training with broker participation.
  • Improve her own skills in fibre production and to impart those skills to prospective and existing producers through mohair classing courses.
  • Encourage further education in areas of goat production and create an opportunity for greater producer networking.

The Australian mohair industry has achieved the status of best quality mohair in the world, second to neither Texas or South Africa and has achieved this status in only 30 years of selective breeding.

In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the majority of mohair was forwarded to brokers unskirted and unclassed, while in the 1980’s and 1990’s the introduction of imported genetics saw an increase in the number of classing lines. While Australian fibre has improved to such an extent that poorer kempy lines are virtually non existent, producer classing techniques have not kept pace, with brokers still receiving unclassed and unskirted fibre. As a result producers are being penalised with increases classing fees and more importantly failing to realise the potential returns for quality.

The Australian mohair industry desperately needed a change in classing standards and to be adopted uniformly throughout the industry from producers to brokers.

The major task involved the development of a hands on training course for mohair classing based on the National Goat Industry Competencies, with input from numerous sources, including wool industry training packages, Mohair Australia classing standards, mohair broker classing standards, the Pastoral Industry Award, goat husbandry resources along with several RIRDC publications.

The course notes were finalised following extensive industry evaluation and a training package developed, comprising of three major competencies.

  1. Preparing for Shearing- included crutching animals, the benefits of sorting animals prior to shearing, penning goats safely prior to shearing to prevent smothering and to avoid wet fibre, arranging animal feed for shearing and conditions for employing shearers and shed hands.
  2. Preparing Facilities for Shearing and Crutching- covered sources of contamination, inspecting shed and yards for sources of contamination and safety hazards, inspecting equipment to ensure smooth running operation, ensuring availability of supplies required during shearing time and providing shelter for shorn animals.
  3. Classing Goat Fibre- included the properties of quality mohair, fault line in mohair, selling methods of mohair, Australian mohair classing standards, efficient fibre flow through the shearing shed, skirting and classing mohair fibre and baling and labeling fibre for consignment to brokers.

Two courses were advertised. The first at Longerenong Agricultural College through the University of Ballarat and the second at Dookie Agricultural College through the University of Melbourne. 28 mohair producers attended the courses with participants required to complete a worksheet on each of the three competencies while carrying out practical activities. The weekends proved an invaluable networking opportunity for producers involved.

Following the initial two courses, interest has now been shown in conducting the courses in both South Australia and Western Australia. The package is currently before the  National Board of Mohair Australia to be adopted for use throughout the industry. One industry accredited training program will be a major breakthrough for the industry in ensuring education in fibre preparation is consistent throughout the country.

At a personal level, Rowena has achieved her ambition of improved knowledge and skills in fibre production and presentation, along with improved networking, public speaking  and marketing skills, that will prove invaluable not only to herself but to her industry for many years to come.

2000 Queensland winner – Annie Pfeffer

Our Future – Promotion of Monounsaturated Sunflower Oil

Annie Pfeffer operates in family partnership a mixed cropping enterprise and established ‘Olisun’, a family business that value adds sunflowers to produce and market pressed monounsaturated sunflower oil.

Annie’s vision was to improve the prospects for the Australian sunflower industry and its growers, while improving the health of Australians, by encouraging the substitution, in the food retail sector, of imported, cheaper, saturated palm oil with domestic monounsaturated sunflower oil.

While canola and olive oils have been recognised by the general public as healthy oils, resulting in increased supermarket demand and purchases, the message has not been translated to the food service industry where up to 90,000 tonnes of cheaper saturated palm oil are imported each year.

At the same time production of Australian sunflower has fallen dramatically, from 300,000 to 120,000 tonnes over the past decade (prior to 2000), as a result of competition from canola domestically and imported palm oil.

This situation comes against some stark statistics, where one person dies every 10 minutes in Australia from cardiovascular disease due to high blood cholesterol, with high levels of saturated fats a major contributor.

Her proposed activity entailed three major objectives:

  • To grow the Australian sunflower industry and in particular supply and demand of monounsaturated sunflower oil. (by 50% in first year)
  • To improve the health of our nation, by increasing the number of outlets that use monounsaturated sunflower oil. (by 50% in first year)
  • Encourage other grower to get further involved within the industry and in the promotion of their product.

The project involved undertaking a major education and promotional effort at both the industry and the consumer level, thereby galvanising the industry and its growers to increase the awareness amongst consumers.

Major activities included numerous Award public speaking events, Ag Ed at Toowoomba Show, Farmfest, the National Press Club, Brisbane’s Farmers Markets and numerous presentations to industry leaders and executive of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

A major breakthrough for her project came with the opportunity to present the Australian Sunflower Association’s vision for the future to the Biennial Conference in Yeppoon in June 2001. The Grains Research and Development Corporation, as a result has asked that the ASA to put forward a strategic plan as the basis for a package of research funding for the total industry. The strategic plan is to be presented to GRDC later this year.

The Australian sunflower industry now has a decidedly more positive focus and is regenerating itself.

Its representative body, the Australian Sunflower Association is working proactively in partnership with other Australian oil producer groups, through the Australian Oilseed Federation, to focus on their collective strengths in accessing markets and countering imports.

And at a personal level, Annie acquired new skills in media, marketing and public speaking, along with report writing, and has used those skills to encourage more people to become involved in their industry and the promotion of their product. The groundwork for the first state-wide women in grains reference group was established as a result of Annie’s efforts.

2000 South Australia Winner – Carol Schofield

 Expansion of the Freshwater Crayfish Industry in South Australia

At the Time of the Award, Carol Schofield had been involved in aquaculture and in particular the freshwater crayfish industry in South Australia for 12 years.  She established, during this time, the ‘Fresh Yabbie Company’, which has evolved into a central networking point for producers and a central marketing effort for the South Australian industry.

Carol’s vision was to see the freshwater crayfish industry, for both yabbie and marron, expand to reach its fullest potential.

The industry has over the past decade undergone several stages of development and major change which has hampered industry and some growers’ efforts to progress and expand.

Her proposed activity translated into six broad objectives:

  • To increase the production of yabbies and marron to meet the increasing demand in the market place at a state, national and international level.
  • To increase employment through diversification and utilisation of existing infrastructure on farms.
  • To design, develop and deliver training programs that can be easily accessed by the rural sector in order to raise awareness, increase knowledge, develop skills and motivate the farming community.
  • To establish a research and development program to examine innovative ways of processing waste from value added yabbie and marron products.
  • To establish industry standards and a quality assurance program for every level of the production/processing chain.
  • To research innovative ways of presenting value added yabbie products to meet market demand.

The project took two major directions:

  • The development of workshop modules designed to raise awareness amongst the farming community in SA of the potential of freshwater crayfish production in farm dams as an important alternate income source.
  • The workshops formed a central part of a strategic industry plan that would see the eventual establishment of a network of freshwater crayfish centres, one in each region, run by a coordinator who will be responsible for delivering workshops and setting up mentoring and support at a local level.

Presentation of the first two workshops were scheduled for the Clare Valley and the Fleurieu Peninsula in late 2000, with a third workshop also planned for Kangaroo Island in late 2001.

The introductory workshops were to be followed up with one intermediate and two advanced skill level workshops over an 18-month period.

The second tier was an intensive research effort into waste management, which represents approximately 80% of the total product. Research extended from grinding, dehydrating and pickling the whole and portioned product for both human and animal consumption both domestically and overseas.

At a personal level, Carol’s knowledge of the industry, its markets and value adding opportunities improved markedly. Highlights included attending the 2001 International Symposium on Astacology in Perth, where she gained valuable data on the latest developments in freshwater crayfish farming, information that will be incorporated into training modules.

Her project resulted in increased awareness of the freshwater crayfish industry and its potential, the first hurdle to raising supply sufficient to meet demand.

2000 Western Australia Winner – Mary Nenke

A Marketing and Study Tour of the U.S.A. for the Benefit of the Yabby Industry and its Growers in Western Australia.

Mary Nenke is founder and principal of Cambinata Yabbies and is intrinsically involved in all aspects of the Yabby Industry in Western Australia, from production to post harvest handling to marketing and exporting.

Cambinata Yabbies started off as a small family concern but evolved into a sophisticated and integrated business, marketing yabbies on behalf of a large groups of growers across the WA wheatbelt.

Mary’s vision was to make rural Australia a great place to live, while offering rural women financial independence through the pursuit of new business ventures and alternate farm enterprises.

Her proposed activity consisted of two broad objectives, incorporating a major study and fact finding tour of the United States:

  • To improve yabby production in Western Australia through investigation of current technology and best practice and value adding opportunities employed in the US.
  • To further expand markets for WA yabbies through promotion and marketing in the US.

The crawfish industry in the United States produces the highest volume of freshwater crayfish in the world. This is in stark contrast to the Australian yabby industry, where very poor production ratios are severely hampering its potential for growth. Their catfish industry has also been very successful in value adding and in vertical integration. The United States is also the world’s major consumer of food and aquaculture and an obvious target market for any increased production.

The study tour of the United States took place in March 2001. The tour included participating as part of the Western Australian Fisheries Department Industry Promotion at the Annual Boston Seafood Show. The Boston Seafood Show also provided the opportunity to look at the various exhibits and examine how others, including the catfish industry market their product. The tour also included stopovers in San Francisco and New York where Mary met with distributors, clients and potential clients. The tour culminated in New Orleans and Houston where Mary was able to study first hand their crawfish industry from farm to processing factory to markets.

The study tour gave Mary a far greater understanding of the American market and their local product, as a result she is far more component at explaining first hand the advantages and disadvantages of the two products, yabbies and crawfish.

The trip proved the Australian yabby and its handling to be by far the superior product and should be marketed accordingly. The tour also proved that there is potential for value adding yabbies.

In specific terms Mary brought back new ideas and technology, including larger feed pellets, traps for moving stock and a steamer for value adding product, that were to be trailed for possible transfer to the domestic industry in WA.

More importantly Mary has developed new contacts and networks that will help not only expand existing markets but forge new ones for Cambinata Yabbies and its extensive network of growers.

2000 Tasmania Winner – Anne Taylor

Farm Safety, Manual Handling and Back Care

Anne Taylor a partner in a mixed farming enterprise, is also a practicing physiotherapist.

Anne’s vision was to create a safe work environment for all who work in agricultural industries.

She was amazed at the lack of knowledge shown by farmers on manual handling and backcare, injury prevention and first aid, and yet when 50% of all workers compensation claims are the result of manual handling incidents, there were no easily accessible and practical farm safety education and training programs available for all members of the farming family and the farm workforce.

The major objective of her proposed activity was to ensure all who work in primary industries access to affordable and best practice training in manual handling, backcare and manutention, farm safety, practical first aid awareness, accident and injury prevention.

The project involved the development of a company called ‘WiseWork’ that would become the vehicle to delivering training to the farming population. Training packages were developed, equipment purchased and manuals, handouts and posters created.

Marketing was low key and provided predominantly through Award speaking engagements, newspaper articles and word of mouth.

In order to be fully competent in delivering the training, Anne attended a number of courses, including Manutention Advanced “Industrial Loads’ course, Manual Handling for Carers of People, Train the Trainer, Train Small Groups and Plan, Conduct and Review Assessment, Return to Work on the Farm and Community Development Training. She is currently completing the Certificate IV in Assessment & Workplace Training and achieving accreditation as a Manutention trainer.

Anne delivered numerous training programs since winning the Award, including:

  • Five Farm Safety Courses with three presenters and three Farm Safety Courses with two presenters.
  • One three day pilot course ‘BackCare and Manual Handling’ for Agricultural Personnel.
  • One Injury Prevention Session at Beginners Shearer’s Training Course.
  • Several BackCare and Introductory Manual Handling courses to horticultural businesses, timber merchants and the Nursery Association Accreditation Scheme.

She also received a contract with a Poppy Processing Company to deliver farm safety training to their growers, contractors and field staff, statewide, with five courses conducted in 2001.

At a personal level, Anne developed new skills in creating and implementing a business from planning to actual performance and has become proficient at writing reports and training manuals, public speaking and networking.

Anne’s project raised awareness within the Tasmanian farming community on the issues of farm safety and backcare and manual handling, while extending the training offered from a purely ‘farmer’ base to the nursery, timber, horticultural, poppy seed industries and associated communities.

2000 Northern Territory Winner 

There was no winner from the Northern Territory in 2000

Related Resources

2000 Runners Up

View the runners up of the Rural Women's Award from 2000

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Previous Winners

View all other winners of the award

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