Farmer and founder of the ‘Champions Academy’, Sarah Powell, was last night honoured as the winner of the national Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Award.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, presented the award to Ms Powell, from a family-run mixed-farming operation in Wharminda on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, and also congratulated the 2015 runner-up, Carol Bracken, a hazelnut grower and successful businesswoman from Glengarry, Tasmania.
“Women like Ms Powell and Ms Bracken are important leaders in our rural communities, and excellent role models for the next generation of rural champions,” Minister Joyce said.
“This is the third year that I have had the honour of being involved in these awards as the Minister for Agriculture, and the talent, passion and diversity of skills showcased by our rural women leaders never fails to impress me.
“I am a passionate believer in the importance of our rural and regional communities to the Australian way of life—so it is wonderful to see leaders like Ms Powell who are dedicated to securing a vibrant and prosperous future for our rural communities.
“Through her ‘Champions Academy’ programme, Ms Powell will help give other young leaders the skills and resources to act as ambassadors for their rural and regional communities.
“The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award helps to ensure that the vital contribution of women in our rural communities gets the profile and recognition it deserves.
“I was also pleased to announce last night that the Coalition Government will be continuing its proud support for the Award, and we have committed $75,000 in funding for next year.
“Winning a RIRDC Rural Women’s Award provides the opportunity to develop the skills, resources and networks that will help our rural women leaders turn their visions into reality.
“Ms Powell and Ms Bracken join an impressive alumni of previous winners; high achievers working across agribusiness, rural research, development and extension, and community development.
“The 2014 national winner, Pip Job, used her award bursary to develop a rural women’s training program, ‘Positive Farming Footprint’, to assist women to manage the challenges of rural life, and I pay tribute to her also.
“I congratulate Ms Powell and Ms Bracken as deserving winners of these awards, and I hope that we will be seeing a lot more from them in future.”
Minister Joyce said state winners also highlighted the diversity of talent across rural Australia, with finalists including businesswomen, community leaders, and farmers using innovative approaches to educate the Australian community about agriculture, or to develop emerging industries and markets.
For more information on the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award, visit rirdc.gov.au/rural-women’s-award