The Fence

Supporting women in farm businesses

Growcom’s first Women in Agribusiness seminar for 2016 on the Sunshine Coast on 17 February will include a discussion about what opportunities women in rural businesses need to grow their industry networks, improve their business skills, and build confidence to take on more  leadership roles.

Growcom’s Women in Horticulture Co-ordinator Jane Muller said that the initiative had been operating since 2009 and had grown out of recognition that the majority of production horticultural businesses are run by husband and wife teams, with women taking on significant, distinct and essential roles.

“Our Women in Horticulture initiative connects a community of 250 successful, hardworking women networked across the state. We run events all around Queensland so that our network members can get together, discuss current industry issues and learn new skills,” said Ms Muller.

“At our first seminar for the year, our participants have the chance to pick up new strategies in two highly relevant areas of farm businesses: how to make the shift from paper or computer-based book keeping to cloud accounting, and how to proactively address mental health and wellbeing in family teams and rural workplaces,” she said.

“But, we’re also going to spend some time ‘thinking big’ and talk about how we can take our work with rural women to the next level,” she said.

“We’d like to hear from women about where they’d like the program to go this year. For example, what skills and strategies do women need to be in a better position to deal with major business challenges? Are women interested in accessing scholarships to attend tertiary education or the Australian Institute of Company Directors course?

“In 2015 two new women were elected as Directors on the Growcom Board: Belinda Adams, co-owner of Coastal Hydroponics vegetable farming business on the Gold Coast and Sharron Windolf, co-owner of Windolf Farms near Gatton. Belinda has since been appointed to the Ausveg Board of Directors.

“These women, along with Sue Allan who joined our Board in 2013, are excellent examples of how women in leadership roles can bring benefits to our industry through diversity of opinion, different perspectives and approaches, as well as providing leadership and encouragement to other women in the industry to step up and have a go.

“But apart from our Board there are more than 300 Queensland Government boards, committees and other bodies which play an important role in providing leadership, direction and advice on important state issues.

“We would like to build a program which would encourage women to put their hands up for these boards – and this would help the Queensland Government meet its 2020 gender targets, to quote:

  • ‘50 per cent of all new board appointees to Queensland Government bodies will be women
  • 50 per cent representation of women on Queensland Government bodies.’

“We are looking forward to a lively discussion about the opportunities ahead and the priorities for women in farm businesses,” said Ms Muller.

The half-day workshop will be held on 17 February 2016 on the Sunshine Coast and is free for women working in any agribusiness in the Sunshine Coast, Gympie, Nambour and Moreton Bay regions.

It will be held at Lake Kawana Community Centre, 114 Sportsmans Parade, Bokarina, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, Wednesday 17 February followed by a complimentary lunch and networking (agenda follows).

The workshop is being generously sponsored by AustSafe Super, T3 Partners, Rabobank, Sunshine Coast Council and Growcom.

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