Women in the bush

Rural Women's Day highlights female contribution in the bush

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Jackie Elliott taking some time out from promoting Rural Women's Day. Photo: Ruby Channing

Jackie Elliott taking some time out from promoting Rural Women's Day. Photo: Ruby Channing

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Rural Women's Day is an initiative that highlights female contribution to social and economic issues in the bush.

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Growing up on the family farm at Barfold in central Victoria as the fifth-generation of her family, Jackie Elliott thought it only natural she pursue a career associated with the land.

Aged 16, Ms Elliott attended the Emerald Agricultural College in central Queensland graduating in 2010 with a Diploma of Agriculture specialising in beef production.

An opening in rural merchandise sales 10 years ago led her to be engaged with Western AG, Willaura five years ago and Ms Elliott has moved to a new role as account manager with Farm Tender.

But she has long been committed to recognising the contribution women make in regional and rural areas and thought to use social media to make the point.

Fifth-generation farmer Jackie Elliott highlighting the success of women associated with rural and regional communities. Photo: Ruby Channing

Fifth-generation farmer Jackie Elliott highlighting the success of women associated with rural and regional communities. Photo: Ruby Channing

"I had six weeks in between jobs and I took that opportunity to go on a road trip to visit and meet face to face with women I have connected with through the Rural Womens Day social media Instagram page," she said.

"I have always wanted to give something back to my community. I just didn't know where to start."

Living in western Victoria with her partner, Ms Elliott knew she didn't have enough contacts to organise an event to focus on women's engagement with regional communities: but through the use of social media she has been able to make widespread connections.

"I wanted to help rural and regional women of our district to connect with community, collaborate and celebrate, and then I found that International Day of Rural Women was not celebrated like the International Women's Day," she said.

"So I felt there was a great opportunity to start something in my district and recognise the vital roles women play rural and regionally.

"Rural Women's Day was inspired to share stories of women that are real and empathetic, stories from the farmers, stay at home mothers, regional educational and health professionals, and regional community members.

"It is incredibly important to continue sharing the positive stories that emerge from devastating drought, fires and other issues facing regional areas."

Ms Elliott was enthused by the many women she has met through her initiative and who are actively working together to identify issues and find solutions to support their communities.

She cites as a great example Bronwyn at Brisk Trading, Guyra, who realised a need to keep business in the New England town, in the hope to continually have something available for her daughter who may return to the area.

"There are so many like her," she said.

"Tess Caldow at Edenhope in western Victoria is a farm manger and small business owner making sock savers.

"She was our winner of a 'rural business start up' giveaway and this prize included services donated by Sophie Murcia Design (logo) and Emma Jane Industry (photography package) and Tess took this opportunity to grow her small business.

"The team at The Exchange in Dubbo are fantastic - what they are offering their regional area is amazing and I wish we could see this space in all regional communities."

Ms Elliott said starting Rural Women's Day on social media was initially a way to promote a one-day event in the western district of Victoria in October, 2019.

The one-day event was awarded the local Australia Day community event of the year in the Southern Grampians Shire.

"There was so much interest and growth on social media I decided to continue the pages and to ensure content was available each week and I began featuring stories of inspiring rural and regional women," she said. "There have been many women from NSW featured and that was the reason my recent road trip - focused on regional NSW where I got as far north as Guyra and met some inspiring women."

Last November Ms Elliot applied for the AgriFutures Rural Womens Award in Victoria and she has been named a finalist.

"The AgriFutures bursary will assist the growth of Rural Women's Day encouraging and supporting regional communities to adopt their own event to celebrate their local women," she said. "I will continue building on what we have to encourage and support other individuals and groups to organise their own events locally regardless of its size: it's all about community, collaboration and celebration."

  • International Day of Rural Women is on October 15.

Rural Women's Day was inspired to share stories of women that are real and empathetic, stories from the farmers, stay at home mothers, regional educational and health professionals, and regional community members. - Jackie Elliott

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