Faces of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries International Women's Day event in Toowoomba

Faces of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries International Women's Day event in Toowoomba


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Ahead of International Women's Day, an event in Toowoomba has celebrated women in the agricultural sector.

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Members of the agricultural sector have come together for a day to celebrate women in the industry. 

Ahead of International Women's Day on Friday, Queensland's Department of Agriculture and Fisheries held an event at the Toowoomba Golf Club on Wednesday, with about 100 people registered.

Attendees heard from guest speakers including DAF director-general Beth Woods, Rural Resources Online founder Brigid Price, AgForce president Georgie Somerset,  Grains Research Foundation executive officer Meg Kummerow, Blue Sky Produce's Jessica Fealy, beef producer Melinee Leather, and managing director of Eden Farms and three other family-owned companies, Katrina Hobbs. 

Dr Woods was the first speaker of the day, highlighting career success of stories of strong women in the industry including Manbulloo managing director Marie Piccone, Professor Neena Mitter from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation and public policy advisor Wendy Craik. 

Dr Woods said it was important to be grateful for the women who had championed gender equity over the decades. 

"Certainly when I started my working life as a high school student, it was a source of great frustration that I was paid $29 a week and the boys working in equivalent jobs were paid $64," she said. 

"I'm pleased to say that's not the case any more and similarly, we've come a long way since women working in the public sector were required to resign when they got married." 

Mareeba fruit producer Jess Fealy shared her personal mantra, "it's not I can't, it's how can I?" telling about reframing seemingly impossible tasks to find ways to succeed. 

One example she gave was when she used her social media presence to put the call out that Blue Sky Produce was selling wind-damaged avocados from the farm gate after their regular markets wouldn't take them. 

"That one post reached 104,000 people," she said. 

"There were soon 400 orders on Facebook… we got rid of every piece of fruit, six tonnes of it." 

Rural Resources Online founder Brigid Price said she started the website to share tools and resources vital to the industry.

"Along with the website came the world of social media and that was a really big learning curve for me," she said. 

"It's really easy to go down a negative commentary route so for me the challenge is to engage with a much wider audience, but not to take the easy road of the negativity." 

Ms Price said the support she had received from women in her local community had been vital to her personal success. 

"It is not capacity and capability that women lack but rather the confidence and connection to take on higher level leadership roles," she said. 

"And the skills that women are using to contribute to their local community are invaluable resources that can be applied at a higher level in agriculture to contribute to this industry, they just need to be given an opportunity." 

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