Busy women put on a flagship WIFE event

22 Oct, 2017 04:00 AM
 The Ongerup Hall was transformed for the Women in Farming Enterprises annual seminar last week.
The Ongerup Hall was transformed for the Women in Farming Enterprises annual seminar last week.

THEY say if you want something done ask a busy woman.

The busy women of Ongerup proved that theory last week, as the Ongerup Hall was transformed for the Women in Farming Enterprises (WIFE) annual seminar.

It’s the first time the seminar has been held in the Great Southern town, which put its hand up 12 months ago to host the flagship event.

Since then, countless hours of cleaning, floor polishing, electrical work and gardening has been put into restoring the rundown facility to its former glory.

Ongerup seminar secretary Kendall Osborn said the community had jumped at the opportunity to support the event.

“We sort of put our hands up at the last seminar to host the event not knowing where we’d hold it, we had visions of it going up to the local complex and hiring a marquee but the cost to hire the marquee just blew it way out,’’ Ms Osborn said.

“So then we relooked at this venue, but it hadn’t had a lot of love for a while.

“A lot of sweat has gone into the hall, the ladies have done an amazing job.”

More than 120 people saw the finished product last week at WIFE’s sixth annual seminar, which focused on resilience.

Guest speakers included Brain Ambulance chief executive officer Deb Reveley, on the importance of mental resilience and Woodanilling farmer and 2012 Young Farmer of the Year Bindi Murray, who shared her story of juggling parenthood and farming.

Other speakers included Millers Ice Cream founder Paul Miller, 2 Workin Oz founder Ley Webster, Telstra WA south and central area general manager Boyd Brown, Origo managing director Annie Brox and several local community members.

WIFE general committee member Tina Harding said the Ongerup branch chose to focus on resilience to recognise the hardships farmers and their communities faced each year.

“Our small community has just lost two important members, our winter sporting teams have gone, our school is struggling to survive and there are too few people left that are actively involved,” Ms Harding said.

“In the farming world we deal with frost, drought and prices to name a few issues, and really to be a farmer you have to be resilient, you have to believe in the future and have the strength to deal with the bad stuff as well as the good.

“Despite all this, we believe that the business of farming is a thriving and exciting one to be in, a fabulous place to bring up our kids and although we have to go further afield to play our sport we have been welcomed into another small community just like ours and loved making new friends and connections.

“Whatever the future holds for Ongerup and other small communities like ours, we believe we are resilient enough to meet the changes and challenges that it will bring.”

WIFE president and Varley member Anna-Lisa Newman said the enthusiasm and commitment shown by the Ongerup WIFE branch was indicative of the broader success of the organisation.

Since its establishment in 2009 in Varley, WIFE has grown to more than 220 members in 13 branches across the agricultural region, with Toodyay the most recent addition.

For the first time the organisation this year employed an executive officer and Ms Newman said it was just the beginning.

She said the group was formed to create a supportive and professional network for women in agriculture living in regional WA.

“The initial group started out in the south-eastern Wheatbelt area and it spread quite strongly west and is starting to head up to the northern Wheatbelt areas,” Ms Newman said.

“We’re trying to create those connections across the Wheatbelt, it’s just giving a place for those who are active in their businesses to come to and discuss the many roles that they are involved with on the farm.

“The seminar gives us a great opportunity to meet some of these girls face-to-face that we’ve been chatting with to online.”

Next year’s WIFE seminar will be held at Dowerin.

Stephanie Sinclair

Stephanie Sinclair

Stephanie Sinclair is a journalist at Farm Weekly.


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