2018 Conference Speakers

Professor Margaret Alston OAM – Key Note Speaker

See the source image A Founding Member of AWiA, Margaret Alston is a Professor of Social Work in the School of Humanities and Social Science. Prior to moving to University of Newcastle, Margaret was Professor of Social Work and Head of Department at Monash University, where in 2008 she established the Gender, Leadership and Social Sustainability (GLASS) research unit.

Awarded an OAM for services to rural women and to social work in 2010, main areas of research are gender, climate and environmental disasters, rural women and social work. Current CI on an ARC project on social sustainability in the Murray-Darling Basin area and on the ARC Invisible Farmer Project with the Victorian Museum to develop awareness of rural women’s contribution to Australian society.

During the Rural Women’s Movement of the 1980s-1990s, Margaret’s academic works have directly informed policymakers and encouraged rural women to continue lobbying and networking. She I have been involved firsthand with several rural women’s networks including the Women on Farms Gatherings, the Foundation for Australian Agricultural Women, and the Rural Women’s Policy Unit.

Michelle Scott Tucker – ‘Elizabeth Macarthur: A Life at the Edge of the World’

Michelle Scott Tucker owns and operates a management consulting company, and lives on a small farm in regional Victoria with her husband and children. Elizabeth Macarthur – A Life at the Edge of the World is her first book.

Michelle Scott Tucker shines a light on an often-overlooked aspect of Australia’s history in this fascinating story of a remarkable woman In 1788 a young gentlewoman raised in the vicarage of an English village married a handsome, haughty and penniless army officer.

In any Austen novel that would be the end of the story, but for the real-life woman who became an Australian farming entrepreneur, it was just the beginning.

John Macarthur took credit for establishing the Australian wool industry and would feature on the two-dollar note, but it was practical Elizabeth who managed their holdings—while dealing with the results of John’s manias: duels, quarrels, court cases, a military coup, long absences overseas, grandiose construction projects and, finally, his descent into certified insanity.

Kim Storey – ‘What Does a Farmer Look Like?’

From a fine wool merino property near Bathurst, NSW Kim Storey photographed everything in sight using her Dads old camera. Back then, it was all about being a farmer and Kim headed to Ag College in Orange, followed by working for Elders for 12 years. She left Elders, bought a property Eugowra and started a family and commercial photography business in 2015.

The ‘What Does a Farmer Look Like’ project began in 2016 a following a Twitter chat on the perception of women in farming and farmers in general and a google search under the terms “What Does a Farmer Look Like?”.

This lead to the amazing journey that has taken Kim across Australia photographing and chatting to farmers producing a whole range of food and fibre. These incredible people are the feature of Kim’s book that she hopes will book makes a difference in improving the perception of farmers and farming.

AgriFutures Australia Panel – Female Entrepreneurs in Agriculture Panel

Belinda Allitt GAICD Belinda Allitt, General Manager, Communications & Capacity Building at AgriFutures Australia  (formally Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation – RIRDC) will lead a panel comprised of some of Australia’s leading and innovative female entrepreneurs, blazing a pathway in agriculture. Each of these amazing women has participated in one of AgriFutures People and Leadership Programs.

Dr Skye Saunders – From Comfort to Courage and Back Again: Changing the Culture of Sexual Harassment in the Bush.







Skye is a passionate and committed advocate for the advancement of gender equality, including the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls in Australia and internationally. She has a particular interest in gender dynamics in the rural context and pioneered the first research in Australia on sexual harassment in rural workplaces, ‘Whispers from the Bush- The Workplace Sexual Harassment of Australian Rural Women’ (2015, Federation Press).

Skye is an Associate Professor in Law at the Australian National University and is the Vice President of the YWCA Canberra. She recently taught a comparative US/ Australian Gender Law program at the University of Alabama and was a delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) in New York with the YWCA Australia. Skye was also awarded the Chancellor’s 2017 Distinguished Young Alumni Award (University of Canberra).

In 2017 the Victorian Women’s Trust produced a short documentary film called ‘Grace Under Fire’ which is based on Skye’s research on workplace sexual harassment in rural Australia. The short film situates the research through the accounts of various rural women and was launched in Melbourne by Chief Justice Diana Bryant.
in the last 12 months and what do we need to do?

A regular speaker at national and international conferences and events, Skye ignites the inherent empathy and perception in both men and women as a central part of her mission to disrupt sex discrimination in the workplace. She is currently researching for her new book project, ‘Defying Gravity- Rising Above Sex Discrimination in the Workplace’.
Momentum is gathering as women in RRR are calling out workplace sexual harassment and discrimination. In this talk, we explore the practical tools that women can use to confidently challenge unwanted workplace behaviour. We also celebrate the unique roles of ‘comfort’ and ‘courage’ as we play our role in changing aspects of rural culture for all women and girls.

Professor Kate Auty – The Sustainable Energy Story

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Professor Kate Auty is the Commissioner for Sustainability and Environment with the Australian Capital Territory and an Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. 

Other recent roles included Vice Chancellor’s Fellow (University of Melbourne), Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability (2009-2014), Chair of the Ministerial Reference Council on Climate Change Adaptation (Victoria 2008-2010), member of the Victorian Premier’s Climate Change Advisory Council (2009-2010),and a City of Melbourne Climate Change Ambassador developing the Future Melbourne Plan 2026 (2015).

She was previously a member of the advisory board of AURIN, and chair of the advisory board of NeCTAR, and she continues as a member of the advisory board of the ACSEES (MDBA).  Kate was a director on the Board of the AWiA Ltd in 2017 and she continues on the boards of MSRF Ltd and The Rescope Project Ltd. She chairs North East Water Community Energy Advisory Board and the Board of the Banksia Foundation Ltd. In early 2018 Kate agreed to be co-opted to the board of Sustainable Business Australia.

Kate is also an experienced Sustainable Futures advocate, leading communities and shires to adopt more sustainable practices including solar energy.

Fiona Lake – The Women’s Guide to Putting Drones to Work on Farms

Fiona Lake is a professional photographer and writer known for her pioneering rural advocacy. Her multi-strand business includes book publishing, presenting workshops, photography commissions and overseas farm tours. Earlier this year our Ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, opened Fiona’s exhibition in Australia’s Washington D.C. Embassy.

Fiona’s 3 decade career has paved the way for many other photographers and authors. She was the first Australian to judge the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists annual photography award. Next  month she will be the first Australian presenter at America’s largest commercial drone expo, World Drone Expo.

Increasing ag networking between industries and countries is dear to Fiona’s heart and she invests a lot of time in fostering links. Other projects include increasing the diversity of rural women taking up public speaking, and flying drones. Australia has less than 20 fully licenced female drone pilots and Fiona is one of them.

Fiona will draft farm drone usage fact from fiction and list simple uses that make drones worth purchasing. Fiona’s mantra is ‘drones should only be used for what they’re best at’.  She will  discuss the other types of ag. technology which are more efficient, cheaper or safer for some purposes and highlight the unique opportunities for rural women to get in on the ground floor of this new industry.

Looking Back – Looking Forward – Setting the Scene for the next 25 years!

Mothers and daughters involved in Australian Women in Agriculture will give their perspective on the past and their hopes and dreams for the future of AWiA and all women in agriculture.


Heather Ewart – Dinner Speaker

Heather Ewart is the presenter for ABC TV’s Back Roads program. Back Roads takes viewers to more of Australia’s most interesting and resilient communities. These towns are full of colourful characters whose grit and good humour will continue to uplift and inspire.

Heather has  covered federal politics in a range of roles for ABC TV and radio over several years, and has also been a foreign correspondent in London, Washington, and Brussels.

She was formerly a journalist for the  ‘7:30 Report’. She was awarded the 2007 Golden Quill Award for her story about skin cancer victim, Clare Oliver, a story that had an enormous impact and had led to tougher regulation of the tanning industry.

Founding Members Panel

Join us as we celebrate 25 years of Australian Women in Agriculture at the stunning Olive House reception centre. Our  “On the Couch” session led by Alana Johnson with AWiA Founding members including Cathy McGowan OAM, Elaine Paton AO and Val Lang AM.

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