AUSTRALIAN Women in Agriculture is set to complete the first stage of a major learning project aimed at equipping country women with skills to influence policy makers and effect change within their communities.
AWIA has received a $300,000 federal government grant to support the scheme, which will provide on-line and face-to-face learning to women in rural and remote Australia.
Still under development, the project ‹ known as the National Learning Network Scheme ‹ is the first of its kind to specifically target rural needs.
WA NLNS co-ordinator Marjorie Stephen said the scheme provided education opportunities to women previously restricted by access to learning facilities.
It would provide advanced leaderships and business skills on a range of topics including commodities, natural resource management, health and trade, among others.
Ms Stephen said entire rural communities would benefit from its flow-on effects.
Women could apply the learning directly to farm businesses, while others may choose to take a more active community role.
"It is really an opportunity to create a group of women who are able to influence policy in areas that affect them," she said.
"Those skills can be past on in their own communities or anywhere in Australia using the Internet, so they have a sustainable learning network."
Stage one of the project would be completed next month with the finalisation of a board of directors, the completion of training of the scheme's 10 co-ordinators, and the launch of a website.
A regional development company would also be selected to customise the learning modules to rural needs and reference groups would be encouraged to participate in on-line discussion to assist develop the next stage.
AWIA hoped to complete the scheme by February 2003.