As strong as ever
By Eliza Thomas, RRR Reference Group Member
Women ﬁlled the Buntine Town Hall for the 2007 Liebe Group Women’s Field Day. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the annual event, which aims to build the management capacity of women in agriculture. The Liebe Group conducts local, high priority research and development aimed at increasing the sustainability of agriculture. Ten years ago, the group recognised that women on farms were a potential asset to business and tended to underestimate their own value. The group decided to encourage women to take a more active role in farm business management. A women’s committee was formed and the ﬁrst ﬁeld day was organised in 1997.
About 90 Liebe Group members attended the ﬁrst practical ﬁeld session. It was envisaged that the day would be planned for another ﬁve years, to build its capacity and then see women attend mainstream ﬁeld days. Initially agronomic topics such as plant growth and nutrition were covered.After completion of the ﬁve-year plan, it became evident that the day needed to continue as there was another group of women – a younger generation – who were asking for information. One participant recently stated,
“I want the day to continue to give women opportunities, capacity building, networks and information.”
The women’s ﬁeld day has matured. No longer is it a practical ﬁeld session as women today do attend ﬁeld days. Instead it is a day where motivational presenters feature
and it is an opportunity to network. Along with the grower-to-grower sessions, such as those presented by Liebe Women’s Committee member Anita Dickins and Goodlands primary producer Stacey Hudson at this year’s event, there are other industry and inspirational speakers. The 2007 keynote speaker was Richard Goyder, Managing Director and Chief Executive Ofﬁcer of Wesfarmers Limited. Richard’s address was well received, as he spoke about leadership and the future of agriculture.
The ongoing relevance of the women’s ﬁeld day was demonstrated by the 120 women who attended the 10th anniversary event. Initially the women’s committee knew Liebe Group members would be interested in the day, but agreed that the wider appeal was a bonus as participants from throughout the Wheatbelt now attend.
Liebe Group Partnership Development Ofﬁcer Merrie Carlshausen was an inaugural Women’s Committee member.
“I feel a level of satisfaction, pride in that we started something that fulﬁlled a need. It has been conducted in such a way that it is effective, sustainable and constantly reﬂective,” she said. The success of the women’s ﬁeld day can be attributed to the committee who are constantly sourcing new topics and presenters. The Liebe Group operates from a grassroots level and is constantly seeking feedback from members. This consultation must be effective as feedback as a participant from the 2007 event described it as, “Great for educational purposes and keeping up with industry change. ”As another participant remarked, “Our business has beneﬁted by increasing my conﬁdence to have a go. Knowledge that I have gained from these days has encouraged me to further educate myself in areas required by our business. ”
A 2008 Liebe Group Women’s Field Day will be held next year. For further information visit www.liebegroup.asn.au