Wheatbelt women take charge

28 Feb, 2013 01:00 AM
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Founding members of the Agricultural Women Wheatbelt East group: Olivia Grigson, Merredin; Karin Day, Burracoppin; Tessa Pearse, Merredin; Narelle Millington, Merredin; Julie Alvaro, Merredin and Christine Gladki, Burracoppin, WA.
Founding members of the Agricultural Women Wheatbelt East group: Olivia Grigson, Merredin; Karin Day, Burracoppin; Tessa Pearse, Merredin; Narelle Millington, Merredin; Julie Alvaro, Merredin and Christine Gladki, Burracoppin, WA.

FOR six women from the West Australian wheatbelt, a trip to the National Rural Women's Conference is set to fuel a much bigger project.

The group left Canberra last week inspired to push ahead with plans for their own women's group in WA's eastern wheatbelt.

To be known as Agricultural Women Wheatbelt East (AWWE), the fledgling group hopes to hold at least three events in its first year - a sundowner meet and greet, a professional development forum related to farming and a mini conference.

Six of its seven founding members were in Canberra for last week's conference - Olivia Grigson, Merredin; Karin Day, Burracoppin; Tessa Pearse, Merredin; Narelle Millington, Merredin; Julie Alvaro, Merredin and Christine Gladki, Burracoppin. (Unable to attend but also a key driver is Vanessa McGinniss, Merredin.)

While there's already existing rural women's groups in WA - and they discovered a few more while in Canberra - the group, who all are involved with farming in the area, said there was nothing specifically targeted at agricultural women in the eastern wheatbelt.

And after what could only be described as two very ordinary seasons in a row, Mrs Millington said many women in the district were in need of a stronger support network.

"We want it to be a chance for women to farms to share their experiences and to grow their networks," she said.

"And it's also about encouraging women to be positive," said Mrs Day.

Mrs Millington said going to the conference had reaffirmed to the group they were on the right track with their plans.

"We don't want to reinvent the wheel. There are women's groups out there and after going to the conference we discovered there are actually more than we realised but we want to create something specifically with an agricultural focus in our region."

For the group, the benchmark of their success will not just be how many women they can get to attend its first events but how women feel when they leave the events.

"Even if only 10 women come along, we hope they will leave feeling more positive and more confident," Mrs Millington said.

* Women interested in joining the group can email olivia.grigson@live.com.au

FarmOnline

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