It’s often been said that behind every great man there stands a great woman… and Australia’s primary production industries are a prime example of this. In most farming partnerships, it’s the man who tends to the crops, while his wife keeps the home fires burning – which can include everything from quarterly BAS statements, staff management, quality assurance, marketing… and the list goes on, and that doesn’t even include any home/family duties.
So given the multi-faceted role that women play on-farm, it seems obvious that it’s worth investing significant time and money into their professional development. One such initiative supporting this idea is the Australian Government’s Recognising Women Farmers grants, provided by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, under Australia’s Farming Future.
Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Dr Mike Kelly, says the grants aim to support activities that will build leadership and capacity amongst women in primary industries.“The development and encouragement of women and young leaders in rural and regional Australia is of paramount importance to the future of our nation,” he said.
For the past two years, Arris has successfully gained funding from this grant to run an online skills and leadership development program called ‘Women in the Horticulture Industry’ (or WiHI for short). Across a 12 month period, the women take part in 10 webinars (online classes) which are led by expert guest presenters covering a range of topics from soil management to carbon accounting. The presenters are predominately women to demonstrate and reinforce the professional capacity and capabilities of women in the Horticulture Industry. The webinar times are set by the group, but if ever someone can’t make it to one of the webinars, the lesson is recorded and placed online on a specially designed website. The additional benefit of the recordings is that the participants often share the lesson with their husband, colleagues or friends – in turn helping the wider-community to learn more about the Horticulture Industry.
The current class of WiHI participants grow every kind of produce imaginable, in every corner of Australia. Some of them are very tech savvy, with their own business websites, blogs and social media accounts – where as others are just starting to learn about technology by signing up to the webinars. But what they all have in common is a desire to learn – both from our expert guest presenters and from one another.
In March the women attended a two-day conference in Adelaide where they got the chance to meet one another in person, thereby strengthening the network they first created online. It was also an opportunity to expand on the lesson’s they had learnt online by giving them some practical training sessions such as learning how to conduct a soil test on-farm in a soil pit.
To find out more about the Women in the Horticulture Industry program, visit http://wihi.arris.com.au or contact Arris on
08 8303 6706.