Award winner motivated to help others

Award winner motivated to help others

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Ms Peak won the 2020 Agrifutures Rural Women's Award for WA.

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AgriFutures Rural Woman of the Year 2020 winner, Cara Peek. Photo by Jalaru Photography.

AgriFutures Rural Woman of the Year 2020 winner, Cara Peek. Photo by Jalaru Photography.

2020 AGRIFUTURES Rural Women's Award winner Cara Peek's motivation has always been to help better the lives of those who don't have access to the same opportunities as her.

With this year's awards announced in a special broadcast on ABC's Country Hour, Ms Peek said the win had been a much-needed boost for her community.

"I strongly believe that the success of indigenous Australians is the success of all Australians," Ms Peek told Farm Weekly.

"So although my name's on it, I view it as an award for everybody that has helped us on our journey so far with our organisation, Saltwater Country."

A Yawuru/Bunuba woman and native title solicitor by profession, Ms Peek moved to Broome 12 years ago to work with traditional owners on native title claims, but soon discovered her passion was in bridging the divide between first nations people and the wider community.

"I found my niche was in place-based, people-centred programs and initiatives and bringing different cultures together for mutually beneficial outcomes, so one of my core skills is using culturally intelligent communication," Ms Peek said.

She put these skills to use, founding Saltwater Country Inc, a not for profit indigenous lead organisation, built off the legacy and strength of Aboriginal stockmen and stockwomen in the Kimberley's pastoral industry.

"I realised coming together for community events, rodeos and campdrafts was a good conduit for change and an opportunity to get our target audience in one place and create a series of events for them to shine," Ms Peek said.

Through the sport of rodeo and campdrafting, the organisation has been delivering positive change in the Broome and Kimberley regions for many years and Ms Peek said she was hopeful the organisation's Rhythm and Ride Rodeo, Campdraft and Country Music Showcase, scheduled for the end of September, would still go ahead.

"Last year I had a couple of young kids and ringers come up to me and say 'thank you for doing this, I can't believe we are doing this' and the fact they used the word 'we' shows the ownership the community is taking in the events and also the sense of pride that is being created," Ms Peek said.

She will invest her $10,000 business development award in progressing the Saltwater Academy, which will provide training and employment opportunities for indigenous Australians, while celebrating the heritage of the Kimberley Aboriginal pastoral industry.

"The $10,000 is the perfect seed investment that will pay for part of the financial modelling and business plan for Saltwater Academy and also the impact measurement frameworks to track and prove the outcomes we are getting through our programs," Ms Peek said.

With Saltwater Country Inc already partnering with Roebuck Plains station, owned by the Yawuru people, the organisation will continue to work with its partners to create career pathways for indigenous people into agribusiness and other support industries that exist within the regions.

Ms Peek said the award had afforded the organisation some additional networks and she was hopeful it would help draw more attention to their cause.

"We started from nothing, had no money and built it from the ground up, so the fact that it's come from nothing to a sustainable event and the community's belief in the project is probably our biggest achievement," Ms Peek said.

"I find in rural, regional and remote communities, resources tend to be scarce, so you have to be collaborative and innovative to make your dollar stretch further and work with one another to access opportunities that are more readily available in places with bigger populations."

In the mix of some highly capable and innovative finalists, Ms Peek said she was surprised to win and was proud to have been surrounded by a group of such high calibre women.

Broome's Lauren Bell, who founded an insect farming start-up to sustainably manage organic waste was runner-up.

Ms Peek will represent WA at the national award.

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