One of WLA’s industry partners helps shine light on farming women
In partnership with The Invisible Farmer Project, the Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) is in search of stories from the half of Australia’s farming population that is hidden and largely absent from the history books.
The Invisible Farmer Project is an initiative of Museums Victoria. It is the largest ever study of Australian women on the land. This three year project (2017-2020) is funded by the Australian Research Council and involves a nation-wide partnership between rural communities, academics, government and cultural organisations.
Since its launch in 2017 it has been overwhelmed with community and industry response and support. The project was listed in the top 10 achievements in Australian agriculture in 2017.
Invisible Farmer Project lead curator Liza Dale-Hallett says we know that around 49 percent of real farm income in Australia is contributed by women.
“This figure includes a whole range of activities such as on-farm work, off-farm waged work and household, volunteer and community work. Unfortunately a lot of this work tends to go unnoticed, undocumented and uncelebrated in the public eye,” Liza says.
One woman’s experience Liza has documented is Hannah Crisp, who manages Lorraine Station in partnership with her husband Michael. Lorraine Station is on the banks of the Leichardt River, 240 kilometres north-west of Clonclurry, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland.
Lorraine Station is 605,000 acres and runs mainly Droughtmaster Santa Gertrudis Cross cattle. The station has a 7,500 head feedlot and a 2500 acre irrigated and dryland cropping operation. Hannah, Michael and their son Luke grow corn for silage, Rhodes grass hay and Cavalcade. They sell the hay to neighbours, produce agents and saleyards.
AFIA will collaborate with The Invisible Farmer Project at the 2018 National Fodder Conference to host a ‘Women in Fodder’ workshop that aims to give rural women tools to capture and share their stories of farming the land.
AFIA’s Women in Fodder program is designed to empower women in the industry by having conversations that break down gender stereotypes and provide access to training and education in leadership. After the 2017 National Fodder Conference, Women in Fodder members created a Facebook group as a positive platform for women to discuss ideas, ask questions and keep in contact between industry events.
AFIA has since partnered with Women & Leadership Australia (WLA) to provide subsidised courses for women who wish to develop leadership skills. WLA administers a national initiative to support the development of female leaders throughout the fodder sector.
Women members of AFIA can access a range of highly regarded part-time leadership development courses via a dedicated pool of funding. There are opportunities for fee support that provide women with grants of $3,000 to $8,000. Scholarship funding will be awarded based on a set of selection criteria.
AFIA’s Industry Development Officer Jemma Stefanou says that the agriculture industry has traditionally underrepresented women in leadership positions.
“We also acknowledge that supporting women in decision-making roles is crucial to sustainability and innovation. AFIA is working towards a meaningful program to empower, support and celebrate women in agriculture.”
The 2018 National Fodder Conference will be held from 29th-31st July at the Adelaide Convention Centre. The conference theme is The Future of Fodder, which will showcase industry research, sustainability, innovation, technology, safety and diversity.