Louise O’Neill had no idea she would be crowned the WA Rural Woman’s Award winner for 2022. “When I met Debbie and Bronwyn, I was blown away by their projects”. Louise stated that she was grateful to be amongst these powerhouses of men and women in one room. “You could feel the energy, people who congratulated me were genuinely so excited for me”. 

Louise’s project is based on her business philosophy to improve rural communities’ mental and physical well-being. She runs Farm Life Fitness, aiming to overcome the constraints of long distances out in the bush, delivering one-on-one coaching and live online group fitness workouts. Louise is excited to see big organisations, including Westpac & CBH, understand the value of raising awareness for Mental Health in Agriculture and acknowledge its importance now and in the future.

“When you speak about what you love, it isn’t a chore”. Louise loves what she does and said she would continue to do what she does, whatever the outcome is. When you hear Louise talking about Farm Life Fitness, it is clear that she is extremely passionate. “I come from a place of authenticity & empathy & experience.”  

Since winning the award a few weeks ago, Louise is still getting her head around the fact that she will have $15,000 from Agrifutures to help fulfil her project. After the awards, the alumni held a morning tea for all finalists. “It’s so lovely to develop a network of women who have been through a similar experience” The Agrifutures finalists have recently put together a Western Australian Alumni group that Lucy Anderton, 2020 finalist, chairs.

Driving back to Denmark, Louise admits that she was hit with the reality of managing her two small kids, a weekend of sport and daily business duties, needing a moment of rest and time to get her head in the right place, to be able to utilise this opportunity best. “I have already made a few connections, but I am trying to take it a little bit easier until I find out what will happen in September” (when the National awards take place in Canberra). 

One of Louise’s main focuses is using the bursary from the award to help fund a business consultant/strategist with a particular focus on LGAs and local shires. “This is where I want the project to go. The local governments and shires are the places to go. We want people to stay in the regions & agriculture”. Louise believes collaboration is the key to her program’s expansion. 

In future, Louise is motivated to promote the message that Farmlifefit isn’t just for fitness and working out. It can provide farmers with the opportunity for movement as a mental and physical health strategy to accommodate the rigours and stresses of farm life. “Regionally, we miss out on so many services living regionally. Farmlife will be that platform going further to talk about issues and have full transparency with no topic off the table.” Continuing to juggle, Louise manages her business, family, study and more and credits her husband, Warren, as a huge supporter and enabler. 

 Emphasising to all, Louise recommends taking self-care time to move or do something where you can allow yourself to pause and just breathe. She also stated, “I make sure I don’t have too much in my day, I don’t cram my day”. She says she likes to be present with her boys, so from 4.20, once they get off the bus, she says that is her time to be with them. “I am doing what I am doing to spend time with them”. Prefacing that, it fills her cup up as much as it reminds her why she is doing what she is doing.

Louise understands that there will never be a time of pure balance, but we can do our best to carve out and create moments of harmony. We wish Louise all the best with her endeavours and awards Night for September.