Sally, Emily and Josie off to Sydney

Forbes, Coonamble and Dubbo Showgirls off to Sydney for finals


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Sally Downie, Forbes, Emily Ryan, Coonamble, and Josie Anderson, Dubbo, are the first Zone winners through to the Sydney Royal finals competition.

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Forbes, Coonamble and Dubbo each have a representative progressing to the Sydney Royal Show The Land Showgirl competition after the state’s first round of zone judging this weekend.

The event, for the Agricultural Societies Council of NSW Zone 6, was hosted by Young Show Society, with the judging held at Clifton House and Gardens and the dinner at the showground.

The three to win at zone included Sally Downie, Forbes, Josie Anderson, Dubbo, and Emily Ryan, Coonamble.

At just 20 years old, Sally has already founded the soon-to-be-registered not-for-profit organistion, Grassroots Blueprint.

This initiative has the aim of engaging with and empowering farmers, while also promoting agriculture and the real story of farming to the wider community.

Sally said mental and physical health was a key focus for her as she had been through her own struggles and was now motivated to not just talk about these issues, but act on them.

She developed the concept in late 2017 and started working on implementing the idea in 2018, including holding free morning teas and barbecues for farmers at Condobolin, Forbes, Grenfell and Eugowra.

This led to her also being employed as her local council's drought co-ordinator. The promotion for what she's done so far has been through Facebook and Instagram, as well as local media and flyers.

Last week, she visited Canberra as part of the ABC Haywire Trailblazer program, which involved participation workshops around how to run a project, get funding and develop a pitch.

Sally then presented her pitch at Parliament House to an audience of politicians and government department representatives.

"Once I secure funding, which hopefully isn't that far away, I'm looking at providing mental health first aid (training)," she said.

This would cover what to look for and what to do and would target the agricultural services sector, such as agronomists and vets, and other occupations which have regular contact with farmers.

Sally said in 2017 she had spent five months in hospital and so had plenty of time to consider her direction.

This was also the first time she had ever had contact with mental health professionals.

"It was the first time I became aware there are a limited number of services we have access to in rural areas," she said.

Along with developing her initiative for mental health, Sally is keen to also return to work in the dairy industry, preferably on her family's farm where they currently run a drought reduced herd of 230 milkers, down from more than 400 in a good season.

Josie, 23, was the treasurer of Dubbo Show Society, pavilion volunteer and past Showgirl steward, and a business advisory trainee with business support service Crowe Horwath, Dubbo.

She is also a FoundX ambassador, an organisation which provides local entrepreneurs networking opportunities.

She said the FoundX concept was about networking and learning from other successful businesses and professionals.

The idea was for the local host to interview people about good ideas and their experience and in the past year had included former Showgirl and local engineer and infrastructure entrepreneur Jillian Kilby, Dubbo, as well as Herb Smith, Wellington, who produced indigenous foods to supply a Qantas contract.

Josie was also a regular guest of local radio station Zoo FM and discussed topics such as the Buy a Bale program, what farmers were experiencing with the drought, as well as the Showgirl initiative and the local show's plans for the future.

Outside of her more public roles, she also is working on refining her millinery and textile skills to develop a business around offering racing fashion and is learning the ropes of show treasurer, a role which overlaps somewhat with her professional duties.

Emily, 23, a former Rural Ambassador at Sydney Royal in 2017, was also the Coonamble Rotary Club president, Coonamble Royal Far West branch committee member and former president, is completing a bachelor of education (primary), Coonamble Show Society secretary, has established a local gym, and is the merchandise co-ordinator for the ASC Next Gen program.

A focus of her teaching is to provide a secure, stable environment for students who come from low socio-economic and high trauma situations and she was part of the Coonamble community's push for increased support to deal with the high rate of drugs and delinquency.

"We're a connected community school which engages with the outside community and focus on numeracy and literacy, including working with parents," Emily said.

She said one goal was to get more police into the community to then help create an environment where the PCYC could engage more effectively.

"You need that autonomous structure to help implement the support structure," she said.

"Our students are so used to teachers, doctors, nurses, and even their own parents coming and going they don't feel they have a stable environment, so the class room is somewhere safe and secure for six hours a day.

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