The Country Web - Issue 64, 2017 Annual

Connect and collaborate

The Country Web 2017 Annual

Our 64th issue of 'The Country Web' explores the theme 'connect and collaborate' and features stories about creating meaningful connections, mentoring, sharing wisdom, books and people that inspire others. In this issue we profile the 2017 NSW-ACT Rural Women's Award recipients and find out how they are contributing to their local communities and industries through creative pursuits.

As part of our Rural Women's Network 25 year anniversary celebrations, we have included '25 fast facts over 25 years' which highlight some of the activities and projects we have delivered over the years. Make sure you have a look and if you have been involved in any of these activities we invite you to send us your thoughts about how the RWN has played a role (big or small) in your life. You can email your thoughts to or for those feeling a little more creative you can send us a video.

Other articles in this edition include:

  • Pathways to ag for young people: 2017 NSW-ACT Rural Women's Award winner, Sandra Ireson, runs a beef and sheep operation near Booligal with her husband and their three children. Having seen first-hand the lack of opportunities available to young people to access hands-on training in agriculture, Sandra has been working alongside members of the Hay Inc. Rural Education team to develop pathways for young people to gain a start in agriculture. As part of her Award project she is developing a model based on this program that can be used by community and industry right across Australia.
  • Hayley's 'Big Sky' ideas: Hayley Purbrick has a vision to create vibrant small town communities across regional NSW filled with people who think like entrepreneurs. Through 'The Riverina Collective' she hopes to influence cultural change from the grassroots up and to encourage people to see opportunities and take action.
  • Playing with fire - showcasing Australia's native bush foods: After an international career in finance and insurance Rebecca Barnes moved to the northern NSW coastal town of Ballina 20 years ago, seeking a career and lifestyle change that would allow her to balance work and family. When research led her to realise the nutritional benefits and untapped potential of Australian native foods, Rebecca and her business partner established Playing with Fire Australian Native Foods. An industry leader, the company grows, processes, manufacturers and supplies native foods both domestically, to local farmers markets, gourmet food shops and high end restaurants, and internationally to Asia, USA and Europe.
  • Leading women in agriculture: Emma Doyle lives in Armidale in the Northern Tablelands region of NSW and is employed as the sheep and wool lecturer at the University of New England (UNE). She believes for agriculture to be sustainable and profitable into the future, investment needs to be made in both innovative technologies and diversity of people in decision making roles. She has plans to establish a mentoring program to help young women in agriculture feel confident and supported.
  • Art Connections: How an innovative arts program is helping people with dementia to connect and participate through engaging activities including storytelling, reminiscence and learning.
  • Catching dreams - From Bathurst NSW to Nepal: Originally from Bathurst NSW, Bec Ordish has many 'daughters' and many 'sons' too. In fact, at last count she currently has over 200 children spread across various schools in the city of Kathmandu and surrounding districts. Through her Mitrataa foundation Bec is helping to house and educate under-privileged children by providing them with 'Dream Catchers Scholarships', which pays for their tuition and offers a life skills program and family support as required.
  • Building your brains trust: Have you heard the saying 'the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts'? Or how about 'no one is greater than all of us'? When we come together as a collective, the power, ideas and energy we create is far greater than what we can generate on our own. Synergy is an extraordinary thing!
  • Parenting - Staying connected with your teenager: As teenagers become more independent, they often spend more time away from home and you may feel they are less interested in talking to you. There's plenty you can do to maintain a strong positive relationship and stay connected with your teenager.
  • A monument to Cathcart's community spirit: If it were not for its eye catching lolly pink exterior and matching burgundy roof, the Cathcart War Memorial Hall might go unnoticed by travellers to the historic grazing and timber town, nestled high on the NSW south-coast escarpment. That failure would be a lost opportunity to experience one of the enduring but increasingly challenged notions of Australian bush life–the strength and power of shared community.
  • Men's Matters: Tune Up For Farmers (TUFF): Michael Shannon had successfully sorted through some challenging family issues to take over the reins of the farm business. He was well advanced on a comprehensive farm development plan and was busy exploring the potential of value chain beef marketing when things started to unravel. Participating in TUFF gave him an opportunity to reassess and put things into perspective.
  • 2016 Broken Hill Communique - NSW rural women's challenges and ideas for action: This report snapshot captures the top five challenges based on experiences of women participating in the Broken Hill Rural Women's Gathering and builds on those identified by women attending the 2015 Glen Innes Gathering.
  • Women's Health - social connectedness, confidence and wellbeing: We all have a need to belong and to feel connected to others in some way. Experts say there is compelling evidence that the social connections we form with individuals, family and community significantly affect our health and wellbeing. A lack of social connectedness creates a risk to health, particularly mental and heart health. However, to build or maintain social connections requires a level of self-confidence that many women say they don't have.
  • Book reviews and reader give away. In this edition we are running several book give away's including: Outback governesses - a collection of eye-opening stories about 14 governesses who drop in, Mary Poppins-like, to educate children in Australia's remotest rural areas and in turn receive a bush education of their own; Grandma Forgets a special picture book for families touched by dementia; and The missing pieces of us - a moving and intriguing novel about love, friendship and how the truth can sometimes set us free.

Call for stories

The 2018 annual issue of The Country Web will celebrate '25 years of the NSW Rural Women's Network'. We want to hear from people whose lives have been touched by the RWN in some way over the years.

Contributions are required by 30 April 2018 for publication in August 2018.

Email your contribution to or post to:

The Editor - The Country Web
Rural Women's Network, NSW DPI
Locked Bag 21
Orange  NSW  2800