2012 Winners

2012 New South Wales winner – Danica Leys

Danica’s Award ambition was to take the social media platform AgChatOz to the next generation to better advocate for Australian agriculture.

Danica has been actively involved in agriculture since 1998. In her early career Danica worked as an agronomist across northern New South Wales, before completing tertiary studies in law and now working as a lawyer, based in Sydney and specialising in employment, social media and agribusiness law.

Danica was one of the co-founders of social media platform and community forum AgChatOz. The forum was borne out of a perceived need for rural Australian communities to connect and as a vehicle to closing the city-rural divide, by providing a meeting place for weekly conversations on issue relevant to rural Australia.

Danica’s Award ambition involved formalising the AgChatOz platform as a legal entity, increasing participation and awareness of AgChatOz through key fields and events, and supporting rural people to develop their social media skills.

She believes the extension of AgChatOz will significantly increase its awareness, and its presence and impact as a powerful tool to advocate for agriculture in Australia.

2012 Victoria winner - Tania Chapman

Tania’s Award ambition was to nurture and develop the leadership of rural women and young people in the citrus industry in Australia. At the time of the Award, Tania was a citrus grower from outside Mildura and Chair of Citrus Australia. Tania purchased her 350 acre farm in 2004 and continues to operate her own book keeping business. Tania transitioned to Chair of the citrus industry’s national peak industry body within the space of six years.

Tania has contributed to the development of her regional community through her involvement in the Sunraysia Rural Financial Counselling Service, the Deakin Mildura Rotary Club and is an active campaigner for breast cancer.

Tania’s Award ambition is to unify the Australian citrus industry by tapping into the skills, energy and leadership potential of its rural women and young people. The citrus industry is one of the most important horticultural industries in Australia, yet Tania believes its industry leadership is very fragmented which she believes threatens the industry’s future sustainability.

Tania wished to use the Bursary to set up a national Rural Women’s Leadership Forum, to identify and encourage industry leadership talent and establish the Citrus Industry Future Leaders Program, as an ongoing program to identify, encourage and develop the next generation of leadership for the citrus industry.

2012 Queensland winner – Annette Smith

Annette’s Award ambition was to build capacity to negotiate better outcomes for agricultural landholders and mining companies and regional communities from the resources boom.

At the time of the Award, Annette was Chair of Central Highlands Regional Resources Use Planning Cooperative Ltd, the local Natural Resource Management Group and a Senior Property Valuer with Taylor Byrne. CHRRUP is a community-owned organisation that focuses on improving natural resource management practices and building sustainable communities across the Central Highlands.

Annette was the youngest and only female ever appointed to a role of senior valuer within the Department of Natural Resources and was Vice-Chair of the Emerald Pastoral College Board, prior to the amalgamation of Queensland’s four agricultural colleges.

Annette’s Award ambition is to take best management practice modules for pest management, biosecurity and salinity, currently delivered to rural industries, and rewrite these workshops for delivery to representatives of resource companies to better inform and build capacity to negotiate better outcomes for all parties and the broader community.

The rapid expansion in coal and mineral production conflicts with traditional land uses and has ignited strong emotions and heated debate across the region.

While legislation and regulation sets out the requirements of all parties to land under exploration and mining tenure Annette believes better outcomes can be achieved by increasing understanding of the requirements, culture and demands of all parties and by supporting agreement by all parties.

Annette planned to develop and deliver a series of workshops, offered to both landholders and to resource staff and contractors, to increase the level of understanding of the businesses and environment of both parties, to improve relationships and ensure better outcomes for all parties and the broader community.

2012 National and South Australia winner – Mary Retallack

Mary’s Award ambition was to support women’s leadership to ensure a more profitable and resilient Australian wine industry.

Mary is a third generation viticulturist and Managing Director of Retallack Viticulture, which offers a wide range of consulting services throughout Australia. Since 1996 Mary has worked in vineyard management, technical, research, and consultancy, training and extension roles both with in Australia and overseas.

Her experience extends from Viticulture Lecturer at TAFESA, Okanagan University College in British Columbia and Cellar Operations at Matanzas Creek Winery in California, to Vineyard Manager at Mountadam Vineyards SA, Project Leader at the CRC for Viticulture and Senior Consultant at Scholefield Robinson Horticultural Services.

Mary was one of the youngest non-executive directors to be elected to the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation and is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and the Australian Wine Industry’s Future Leaders Program.

Mary has been actively involved in women’s leadership development within the wine industry, as the instigator of a small women’s network and as mentor to numerous other women involved in the wine industry.

Mary’s Award ambition was to develop a ‘Women in Wine’ website as a central meeting place and comprehensive information sharing hub for women in the wine industry. The website would provide a single location for the dissemination of information and resources and will create a conduit to mentoring and supporting women.

She wishes to encourage women to be involved in the wine industry, in a range of roles and especially viticulture. Most importantly she wants to ensure that women who are at the top of their game do not leave the industry.

Mary used the Award bursary to develop the website and to build a network of women in the wine industry, to act as ambassadors and to support women’s leadership development.

2012 National runner-up and Western Australia winner – Catherine Marriott

Catherine’s Award ambition was to bring together a group of women from the pastoral regions of Western Australia, to develop their knowledge and skills in communication and media, so that they could better advocate on behalf of the beef industry and behalf of rural and regional Australia.

Catherine Marriott’s entire life has been directly involved in primary industries, from growing up on the family farm outside Benalla in Victoria, to undertaking a Bachelor of Rural Science at the University of New England, to jillarooing at stations across northern Australia, to consulting to the northern Australian beef industry.

At the time of the Award, Catherine consulted to a select group of companies and private clients involved in the live cattle export industry, pastoral training and leadership capacity building, both within Australia and in Asia.

Catherine is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program, a committee member of the RRR Network, an active member of the Country Women’s Association and a volunteer ambulance officer with St John’s Ambulance Australia in her home town of Kununurra.

Catherine used the Bursary to organise a three day forum in Broome that provided participants with new skills in communication, influencing and advocating for the Northern beef industry using all media platforms. Other topics covered were values-based communication and engaging with the consumer as well as a strategy building workshop aimed at maintaining future sustainability and viability for the industry. The three day forum finished with a project development session – a tangible outcome of the new knowledge gained and connections formed.

Catherine believes that rural women are very comfortable and competent at managing change and that the time is right for women to play a greater role in advocating on behalf of the beef industry and Australian agriculture.

2012 Tasmania winner – Fiona Ewing

Fiona’s Award ambition was to support and grow the Tasmanian seafood industry by supporting the rural communities it depends on, through the establishment of a community trust that delivers lasting change to the west coast of Tasmania.

Fiona has worked in the seafood industry in Tasmania since 1993 as a scientific observer working on commercial fishing vessels around Tasmania, a Fisheries Extension Officer with Ocean Watch Australia and at the time of the Award was a Community Engagement Officer with salmon growers, Tassal.

She has extensive experience in a number of fisheries including the Rock Lobster, Purse Seine, Trawl, Giant Crab, long line and drop line fisheries.

Fiona has instigated a number of worthy projects including the Seafood Industry Partnerships in Schools Program, which has made a positive contribution to educating students and to public perception of the industry. Another program which Fiona has had substantial input into is the Marine Debris Cleanup Project, which has evolved into an ‘adopt a shoreline’ approach and created valuable linkages between local communities and seafood producers.

With Tasmania’s three largest salmon companies looking to expand their operations to the west coast of Tasmania, Fiona believes there is a corporate social responsibility to now not only provide good employment opportunities but to support the rural communities in which they operate and to assist to resolve some of the social issues apparent in some of these communities.

Fiona’s Award ambition was to travel to Scotland to visit a salmon farming company that has established a Community Trust, which provides financial support for community projects that deliver lasting change. She wanted to learn from their experiences, with a view to setting up a similar program on the west coast of Tasmania.

Fiona believes the community trust once established, will give other industries operating in the west coast region the opportunity to be involved, so maximizing the Trust’s giving capacity. This has the potential to be translated to other industries and other regions.

2012 Northern Territory winner – Barbara Koennecke

Barbara’s Award ambition was to support the giant clam industry and engage the indigenous community in the development of the aquaculture industry in the Northern Territory

Barbara is a pioneer of the aquarium industry and at the time of the Award was Principal of Arafura Aquatic Fish Pty Ltd, one of the first professional aquarium businesses in the Northern Territory. Arafura Aquatic Fish is based at Gove, on the beautiful Arafura Sea in Arnhem Land on the north eastern coast of Australia.

Barbara and her partner Brian have been instrumental in developing the aquarium industry in the Territory including the development and implementation on new management practices, licensing requirements and new environmental management and quality assurance guidelines.

As a pioneer in the aquarium industry, Barbara has contributed to the development of the industry through the NT Seafood Council, Primary Industry Training Advisory Council, Women without Boundaries Network and Women’s Industry Network NT (WINSC).

Arafura Aquatic Fish has since 2007 been working in collaboration with the Darwin Aquaculture Centre on the reproduction and husbandry of the giant clam. Arafura is the first enterprise within Australia to successfully spawn and re-seed on farm and then transfer to grow out in the wild commercial quantities of baby giant clams.

Barbara’s Award ambition was to support the giant clam industry, namely improving its reproduction and husbandry practices, so that a greater supply of giant clams will be available for restocking of depleted wild stocks, for sale to the ornamental industry and as a sustainable food source for the indigenous population.

Barbara used the Award Bursary to travel to the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to learn from their research into restocking of giant clams and their experiences with engaging coastal communities in the aquaculture industry. She also planned to attend the International 2012 Australiasia Aquaculture Conference.

Related Resources

2012 Runners Up

View the runners up of the Rural Women's Award from 2012

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2011 Winners

View the winners of the Rural Women's Award from 2011

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2010 Winners

View the winners of the Rural Women's Award from 2010

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2009 Winners

View the winners of the Rural Women's Award from 2009

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