Sea of opportunity for rural women

Sea of opportunity for rural women


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Kristen Abernethy has won the 2017 RIRDC Victorian Rural Women’s Award.

Kristen Abernethy has won the 2017 Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Victorian Rural Women’s Award.

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Ms Abernethy has worked in fisheries for more than a decade. She will use the award to work with women in the fishing industry to determine what information and training will help them better engage with the community and take on greater leadership opportunities.

She said while women represented more than half of the fishing industry’s workforce, they made up less than five per cent of the executive positions in the industry, and with the award, she would like to address that.

She said the project would give women in the fishing industry the skills to promote the fresh and sustainable seafood that is available in Victoria and Australia.

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford announced Ms Abernethy as the winner of the prestigious award at a ceremony held at Parliament House.

Ms Abernethy was selected by an independent panel alongside three other finalists, Cath Jenkins, Joelene Williams and Lisa Brassington. She will receive a $10,000 bursary to help implement her project.

She will also attend the Australian Institute of Directors’ Course in Canberra and have an opportunity to become the national award winner, who will be announced later this year.

The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award acknowledges the leadership role women play in agriculture and rural communities. The award is supported by Agriculture Victoria and is sponsored nationally by Westpac.

Ms Pulford said the Andrews Labor government was continuing to support women in agriculture by backing initiatives such as Museum Victoria’s Invisible Farmer Project, which gave women in agriculture the chance to tell their stories.

She also announced the re-establishment of the Rural Women’s Network in Victoria, from July 1.

Ms Pulford congratulated Ms Abernethy and the other finalists, and said the projects they proposed showed innovation, leadership and knowledge that could influence their industries, the state and the country.

“Women aren’t just helping shape Victoria’s agricultural agenda, they are leading it,” she said.

Women aren’t just helping shape Victoria’s agricultural agenda, they are leading it. - Jaala Pulford, Victorian Agriculture Minister

Rural leaders: Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford (centre), with the finalists Cath Jenkins, South Purrumbete; Lisa Brassington, Frankston South; winner Kristen Abernethy, West Melbourne; and Joelene Williams, Lake Boga.

Rural leaders: Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford (centre), with the finalists Cath Jenkins, South Purrumbete; Lisa Brassington, Frankston South; winner Kristen Abernethy, West Melbourne; and Joelene Williams, Lake Boga.

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