WA Rural Women’s Award finalists for 2020

A group of women standing in a conference room
Left to right: Lucy Anderton, Jo Ashworth, Kendall Whyte, 2019 WA winner Belinda Lay, Cara Peek and Lauren Bell.

The Western Australian finalists have been announced for the 2020 WA AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award.

The prestigious award has been acknowledging and supporting the essential role that women play in rural businesses, industries and local communities over the past two decades  

The accolade also provides a platform to inspire and support women in the regions to use and develop their skills to benefit their industries and communities.

This year’s finalists have diverse expertise and interests – although all are innovators, collaborators, leaders in their fields and excellent ambassadors for WA’s regional communities.

Lucy Anderton, Albany - farms in partnership with her husband in a broadacre, mixed farming enterprise. As an agriculture economist she recognised the need for an easy-to-use whole-of-farm business analysis tool to assist with building resilience in the industry.  Lucy designed the FARMSMART® tool, in collaboration with agricultural stakeholders,which enables farmers to compare alternative scenarios, enterprise mix and seasonal conditions using their own data. Lucy’s project will deliver business development workshops using FARMSMART® with a focus on understanding risk and financial outcomes in a complex environment.

Jo Ashworth, Kalannie – co-manages the Kalannie Community Resource Centre and farms in the Goodlands area with her family. A trained mechanical engineer, Jo has led the Growing Kalannie Project which offers and promotes inclusive, wide scope opportunities to community members to complete traineeships and apprenticeships. This recognised training helps youth and potential new community members to consider remaining in or returning to Kalannie. Jo’s project is to formulate a successful program that has wider application across regional WA. 

Lauren Bell, Broome - founded a start-up that seeks to use insect farming as a way of sustainably managing organic waste, primarily food waste. Insect farming is an innovative emerging industry and Lauren is passionate about regional areas actively partaking in and developing the industry. Her aspiration is to develop a model of insect farming for organic waste management that is suitable for regional and remote towns across the North West. Lauren believes this initative has the capacity to foster economic growth in those regions through job creation and support local agriculture through the provision of feed and fertiliser products.

Cara Peek, Broome – is a Yawuru/Bunuba woman, lawyer, entrepreneur and social innovator who is committed to fostering access and opportunity for rural and remote communities. She worked in government, non-profit and corporate sectors before co-founding The Cultural Intelligence Project and founding the not-for-profit enterprise Saltwater Country. The initatives have a focus on empowering First Nations people to improve their social, emotional and economic well-being. Cara’s project is to create the Saltwater Academy - a rite of passage through a collective of place-based, people centred programs that celebrates the heritage of the Kimberley Aboriginal pastoral industry.

Kendall Whyte, Perth – is a 27-year-old woman who grew up in Mukinbudin. After losing her brother to suicide in November 2018, Kendall helped create the Blue Tree Project.  The grass roots project has flourished into a not-for-profit initative, creating an impact across Australia, helping spark difficult conversations and encouraging people to speak up when battling mental health concerns. Kendall’s project will increase mental health awareness through a regional tour of WA, holding community painting days to bring people together to share their experiences and provide support.

The 2020 WA AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award winner will receive a $10,000 business development award to help develop their project and go on to compete in the national AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award.

The recipient will follow in the footsteps of the 2019 WA Award winner, Esperance sheep and grain farmer Belinda Lay, who was recognised for her innovative project that used specially designed collars to monitor sheep health.

The 2020 WA AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award is supported by DPIRD, Westpac, CBH Group and the Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network of WA.

The WA Award winner will be announced by the Minister for Regional Development, Alannah MacTiernan, at a virtual ceremony in Perth on Wednesday, 8 April.

For more information contact Amanda Mouritz, communications adviser, South Perth, 9368 3145