RIRDC Rural Women's Award

Sandra Ireson who started the Hay Inc. Rural Education Program has won the 2017 NSW-ACT RIRDC Rural Women’s Award. Sandra was presented with her Award at a special Gala Dinner hosted by Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair MLC at Parliament House Sydney on Tuesday 4 April. Finalists are Rebecca Barnes from Ballina, Emma Doyle from Armidale and Hayley Purbrick from Deniliquin.

A life changing experience - how to apply

The 2013 Australian RIRDC Rural Women's Award

If you're looking for an Award to help you drive change in your community or industry and you would like to develop your leadership skills and broaden your networks, why not apply for the Rural Women's Award.

The Rural Industries R&D Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women's Award identifies and supports women's contribution to primary industries and rural communities by providing financial assistance, mentoring, resources and support via its nation-wide network of business and community leaders for selected state winners.

It is a life-changing opportunity for women who are passionate, courageous and aspire to lead positive rural industry and community change. For more than two decades the Award has championed women from Australia’s diverse industries and communities, giving them a platform to become part of the national conversation.

“The award is the highest recognition for rural women in Australia. It is more than simply acknowledgement of a smart idea, product or service. It provides women a platform to play a vital and pivotal leadership role across business and industry, bring about innovative change and build resilient rural communities.” SUSAN BOWER, HEAD OF WESTPAC AGRIBUSINESS

All state and territory winners receive a bursary of $10,000 to bring to life an idea benefiting rural Australia. They also participate in leadership development and gain access to a nation-wide network of Award alumni. The national winner and runner-up, selected from the state winners, receive a further $10,000 and $5000 respectively.

Award winners and finalists join a vibrant Alumni of like-minded women helping to build stronger and more productive rural communities across Australia.


The Award is open to all women involved in primary industries. Rural women are encouraged to enter themselves or to nominate someone with a commitment and desire to making a real difference to their industry and community. If you are considering applying, please contact RWN to register your interest.

Applications for the 2018 Award are expected to open September 2017. 

If you are  in NSW-ACT and would like access to our NSW-ACT Rural Women's Award Alumni to mentor you through the Award process please contact Allison Priest on 02 6391 3620 or email: allison.priest@dpi.nsw.gov.au.

Further information, including how to apply for the Award, is available on the RIRDC Rural Women's Award website.

Nominate a rural woman

If you would like to nominate someone for the Award please email your details (include your full name, email address and best contact) and the name and contact of the woman you wish to nominate. We will then speak with her and provide an application package.

RWA Alumni

Media Releases


The NSW-ACT RWA is made possible through the generous support of our State sponsors:

Is your agency interested in sponsoring this high profile event? Contact the Rural Women's Network (rural.women@dpi.nsw.gov.au) for more information.

The Award is an initiative of RIRDC in partnership with the state and territory agencies responsible for agriculture, primary industries and natural resources. It is proudly sponsored by Westpac Agribusiness (Platinum sponsor) and is supported by the Award's national partners: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry, Rural Press Limited, ABC Radio and RM Williams OUTBACK Magazine.