AUSTRALIA’s Rural Women’s Award has been presented to WA’s Tanya Dupagne in recognition of her leadership and success in setting up Camp Kulin.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce named Ms Dupagne as the 2017 AgriFutures Rural Women Award National Winner at a ceremony at Canberra’s Parliament House last week.
South Australian author Simone Kain was named the national runner-up.
Ms Dupagne said she was shocked to have received the award ahead of other State candidates.
“I’m still taking it all in, I’ve spent the past week and also a week in July with the State winners and they are just phenomenal women who are doing amazing things,” Ms Dupagne said.
“It just shows that even in an isolated location like Kulin, you can make a difference.”
It was four years ago when the former Kwinana resident packed her bags and moved to the Wheatbelt to establish Camp Kulin.
The camp is designed to mentor and support children from across WA, with specialised camps for those who have suffered trauma and abuse.
More than 1500 young Western Australians visit Camp Kulin every year, and more than 180 towns have been represented in the past 12 months.
The program has won numerous awards, including the National Award for Local Government, the Premier’s Award for Public Sector Excellence, the Constable Care Child Safety Award and the WA Children’s Week Award.
“It has been growing over the past four years, but the last six months especially the growth has just been so rapid and that’s because we’re starting to get long term results,” Ms Dupagne said.
“Demand is probably the highest we’ve ever had at the moment, we’re hoping to make a difference to as many people as we can.
“We’re in the planning process to look at how we can expand into the future now that we know that there’s enough demand to do it, it’s actually grown much bigger than I ever thought it would.”
In April this year Ms Dupagne was named WA Rural Woman of the Year and awarded a $10,000 bursary.
She has been using the funding to develop a subsidised camp for women from regional WA to develop leadership skills and promote change in their communities.
Ms Dupagne is in the process of setting up two pilot camps – with one dedicated to women aged under 30 and the other for all ages – which will be available from February next year.
She said the $10,000 bursary would help further develop that program.
“We’re targeting women who are already contributing to the community and already leaders in the community – mums that are involved in the P&C, people involved with sports clubs – they’ve already got leadership roles and they’ve already got really good ideas for their communities,” she said.
“This is all about taking them, providing them with support, life skills and teaching them the things they need so they can actually go back to their communities and then implement those skills back into those communities.
“The $10,000 from the national award will also go into those trial programs so that we can get them up and running to show that the program works and that will then lead up to expanding it throughout WA and hopefully Australia later on as well.”
AgriFutures Australia managing director John Harvey said Ms Dupagne was a worthy winner of the national prize, and that her impact on the volunteers and participants at Camp Kulin, along with the Kulin community was an example of leadership at its best.
“Tanya is a true example of everything the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award stands for,” Mr Harvey said.
“She has the drive and the capacity to create real change and has also innovated to create a completely new industry for the Wheatbelt, which in turn will support other rural and regional businesses in the supply chain.”
Ms Dupagne has encouraged other women in regional WA to apply for the Rural Women’s Award, with applications now open.
“It’s an absolutely phenomenal program, I think it’s so important just to recognise the contribution rural women are making,” she said.
“This award also provides the bursary funds so that we can develop the skills of women in regional areas and make things happen, so the combination of the two I think is just amazing.”