Ash Robertson's experience of working with the Invisible Farmer Project at Museums Victoria

Ash Robertson standing at the front entrance to Melbourne Museum, Carlton Gardens, 2017, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Ash Robertson standing at the front entrance to Melbourne Museum, Carlton Gardens, 2017, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Ash's Story:

Let me start off by saying that I, Ash Robertson, am not a farmer; and I was never really provided an opportunity to engage with farmers or the farming lifestyle. While I certainly wasn’t ignorant to the plights of the farming industry, I never had an opportunity to actually confront these issues in any productive or beneficial way. I grew up in the southern states of America, and came to Australia in 2012, so my knowledge of Australian farming practices was minimal. However, that all changed in January 2017 when I was offered a chance to join the Invisible Farmer Project as a curatorial volunteer at Museums Victoria in Melbourne.

Ash Robertson holding Heather Mitchell's hat at Melbourne Museum, Carlton Gardens, 2017, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Ash Robertson holding Heather Mitchell's hat at Melbourne Museum, Carlton Gardens, 2017, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Working alongside Liza Dale-Hallett (Senior Curator Sustainable Futures) and Catherine Forge (Curator, Invisible Farmer Project), I quickly became immersed in the world of women on farms. My work at Museums Victoria was varied and required that I peruse photographic collections of stunning farmland, read dozens of community-submitted tributes on Australian women farmers, and listen to hours of candid oral histories. While this project has certainly allowed me to gain experience in museum practice and social media strategies, the most significant and rewarding outcome over the past three months has simply been being a part of such a historic project by helping to shine a light on the stories of Australian women farmers. Working with the stories of Australian women on the land has provided me with some much needed perspective with regard to the farming industry and women’s roles within that space. I’ve come to learn that women are a vital force in Australian agriculture, and that their stories need to be recognised, celebrated, and shared in the public sphere.

Tribute to Emma Robinson by Tom Edwards, "Drawing inspiration from women on family farms", ABC Open Tribute, 3 May 2017: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/194671

Tribute to Emma Robinson by Tom Edwards, "Drawing inspiration from women on family farms", ABC Open Tribute, 3 May 2017: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/194671

Shining a light on women's farming stories:

From poultry and dairy farming to horticulture and viticulture – I’ve encountered a wide range of stories. Throughout my time with The Invisible Farmer Project, I have been fortunate enough to share in the mission and journey of these incredible women by listening to and engaging with their personal experiences of triumph and tragedy. This project serves as a portal through which members of the public can begin to gain an insight into the life of women on the land; and there are many ways in which women’s farming stories are being brought into the spotlight:

  • ABC Open Tributes: To date, there have been over 70 stories shared with The Invisible Farmer Project through ABC Open. These submissions pay tribute to mothers, daughters, friends, and neighbours who are currently or have previously contributed to the agricultural industry. The campaign ends 15 May 2017, so be sure to get involved!

  • Oral History Interviews: Since the beginning of the project, several oral history interviews have been collected from women farmers across Victoria, with each story providing a rich, personal narrative of women’s experiences in farming. These interviews will continue throughout the project with an aim to gather and share stories across Australia.

  • Media Campaign: Invisible Farmer has been successfully launched and shared on a number of media platforms. The project has a strong social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The curators have both been interviewed on a several radio shows and have attended conferences and talks, such as the 2017 Women on Farms Gathering in Harrow. 

Image: Rosemary Waugh Allcock on her property in Taloumbi, courtesy of Invisible Farmer ABC Open Tribute, "Portrait of a Lady", Taloumbi, NSW, submitted by Debrah Novak (tribute author and photographer), available: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/108722

Image: Rosemary Waugh Allcock on her property in Taloumbi, courtesy of Invisible Farmer ABC Open Tribute, "Portrait of a Lady", Taloumbi, NSW, submitted by Debrah Novak (tribute author and photographer), available: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/108722

Women's roles and contemporary issues:

During a site visit through Melbourne Museum’s collections, I was introduced to one of the objects relating to farm women. The object is a hat that was worn by Heather Mitchell, a prevalent figure in the agriculture industry who helped to establish the Landcare Movement in the 1980s-1990s during the Rural Women's Movement. Displaying badges from a number of areas of interest – such as agriculture and community organisations, education, and government – the hat represents the vast number of roles and responsibilities that Heather undertook during her life. More than just an example of what this collection has to offer, Heather’s hat is symbolic of the nature of farm women’s work, which often requires them to “wear many hats.”

The roles of women in agriculture aren’t at all invariable but are rather multifaceted, requiring a wide-range of capacities to fulfil the demands of the industry. Women are working from places as diverse as cattle stations to wild caught seafood operations; they are taking on the demands of their own enterprises, running financial accounts, contributing to their families and communities and often balancing multiple and diverse roles. 

By sharing their stories through The Invisible Farmer Project, women farmers have been able to bolster their visibility within the wider community, advocate for positive change in their respective industries, and vocalise their personal hardships. While these accounts certainly highlight individual experiences, there is a sense of collective consciousness that emerges through shared themes, such as recognising the importance of innovation in sustainable farming practices, acknowledging industry hardships, and engaging the community to promote consumer-producer relationships.

Amelia Bright of Amber Creek Farm, Fish Creek, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Amelia Bright of Amber Creek Farm, Fish Creek, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Sustainability

From poultry farmer Amy Paul’s advocacy for organics and indigenous farming methods, to pig farmer Amelia Bright’s push for off-grid living and animal welfare, to Tagen Baker’s emphasis on the importance of ecological irrigation practices, sustainable farming methods have surfaced as a truly significant focal point for contemporary farmers. Serving as an indicator to the influence and authority behind this movement is Amelia Bright’s business, Amber Creek Farm:

Being an environmentally positive entity is our highest priority.  Therefore running our business and farm using environmental farming principles that increases habitat, sequesters carbon, enhances waterways and water quality is paramount.  Consequently, if we are unable to achieve these objectives then we don’t see it as a successful operation.
Di Bowles, "#dairylove is what it's about", ABC Open Tribute, 2 May 2017,  https://open.abc.net.au/explore/193905

Di Bowles, "#dairylove is what it's about", ABC Open Tribute, 2 May 2017,  https://open.abc.net.au/explore/193905

Industry hardships

There are a number of environmental, economic, and social influences that can bring hardships upon the agricultural industry. We’ve heard from horticulturalist Rien Silverstein how climate change has taken its toll on her orchards in Orrvale and Tatura. We’ve learned of the wide-spread impact of the dairy crisis from dairy farmer Di Bowles in her ABC Open tribute. The ripple-effect following such crises often leads to issues in emotional wellness and mental health. Speaking to this issue, Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey shared the story of her father’s tragic passing during the dairy crisis in 2016, highlighting the importance of mental health awareness and suicide prevention through a business model of kindness and fairness in the dairy industry:

Bypassing the large milk processors allows Gippsland Jersey to ensure a fair price is paid to farmers, and gives consumers are clear choice when buying their milk. And by returning a portion of profits to the Gippsland farming community, Gippsland Jersey helps support the mental and emotional wellbeing of dairy farmers who may be struggling.

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Source: Catherine Forge

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Source: Catherine Forge

Linking producer with consumer

More than simply a business of supply and demand, farmers are becoming more and more conscious of the importance of connectivity through developing and maintaining links to their local communities and consumers. Through these vital connections, farmers are able to steward to their community relationships and equip members of the community with a better understanding of the industry.

The importance of buying and selling local produce was emphasised in the ABC Open tribute to Pat McPhie, who campaigned for local cheeses to be sold at large supermarket chains. Lisa Sartori of Dirty Three Wines stressed the significance of nurturing relationships with the wider community through hosting a series of Melbourne-based wine tastings, allowing them to share their farming stories and truly connect to their consumer base.

Women are also staying connected to their local communities through their involvement with food movements happening across rural Australia, such as the slow food campaign and connecting with chefs and restaurants on a more personal level. For example, Sallie Jones advocates for getting involved with your local farmers’ market as it is the most convenient way to get to know your local farmers and vice versa. Reflecting on her early experience with the movement, Sallie states:

I was involved in the farmers markets when they first started up in Melbourne; they were a very big place of connection. When I was at university I would sell my Dad’s ice-cream on the weekends, just to have that relationship with customers. People generally do want to support farmers because it’s all about connection, right? People care when they’ve got a connection, and they will share that connection with other people.

Lisa Sartori on her vineyard, Dirty Three Wines, Leongatha South, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Lisa Sartori on her vineyard, Dirty Three Wines, Leongatha South, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Why this matters:

Women contribute to nearly half of the real income on Australian farms, yet their public profile pales in comparison to their male counterparts, with approximately 80-90% of Google images for “Australian farmer” reflecting a male focus. Moreover, many of contemporary women farmers still find it difficult to identify themselves as a farmer. The Invisible Farmer Project wants to redefine what it means to be a farmer by turning the conventional understanding of the term on its head. We want people to recognise that being a farmer encapsulates a wide variety of experiences, duties, and roles – working both on and off-farm, indoors and outdoors. As Liza Dale-Hallett has said, “Without farmers we’d be starving, naked, and homeless!" We want nothing more than for women on farms around the world to show pride in their work and contributions by declaring, “I am a farmer.”

Want to know more?

Read more about the Invisible Farmer Project on Museum Victoria's Collections Online

"Fairness and Kindness in the Dairy Industry": Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey, West Gippsland

By Ash Robertson (Museums Victoria) with Catherine Forge (Invisible Farmer Project, Museums Victoria)

Industry: Dairy farming
Name of Enterprise: Gippsland Jersey
Location: Jindivick, West Gippsland, Victoria

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Sallie's Story

Sallie Jones, a 36-year-old dairy farmer from West Gippsland, is one of the proud owners and operators of Gippsland Jersey: an independent, farmer-owned milk label. Established alongside her business partner, Steve Ronalds, the Gippsland Jersey project grew from a profound desire to honour the work and life of her dairy-farming father, Michael Bowen, who ended his life tragically in 2016 during the dairy crisis. The prevailing spirit and message behind Sallie’s journey with Gippsland Jersey speaks to the importance of community connections, advocating for fairness and kindness within the dairy industry, and raising awareness around mental health and suicide prevention.

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey going through photo albums of her childhood, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey going through photo albums of her childhood, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Having grown up on a value-adding dairy farm in Lakes Entrance, Sallie describes her involvement in the dairy industry as more of a natural progression, or birthright, than a choice. Thinking back on her early years, she remembers an idyllic childhood filled with countless memories. According to Sallie, farms are ‘emotional pieces of land that run down generations.’ It’s through these childhood memories that Sallie is able to maintain such a deep-seated connection to the landscape, her work, and the community: 

It’s the landscape that triggers all the memories. My grandfather flew over in the war and saw that piece of land. He packed up his wife and drove from Adelaide over to Lakes Entrance, cleared the land and made it into a dairy farm – real pioneering stuff! I had a lot of responsibilities growing up on the farm.
For me, the memories are a mixture of having incredible freedom, having a really good work ethic, and being across a lot of things. When I go home to Lakes, as soon as I hit the dirt road and the wheels slap over the cattle grid, I know that I’m home. It’s always going to be home. Once you’ve grown up with that, it’s hard to get it out of your blood; you’re very connected to the land once you’ve lived a childhood on it.

While these experiences certainly helped to prepare Sallie for a life in the industry, she says that it was her father who really gave her the confidence and understanding needed to push the boundaries with Gippsland Jersey.

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey holding a photo from her childhood depicting her father Michael Bowen, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey holding a photo from her childhood depicting her father Michael Bowen, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

The mission of Gippsland Jersey:

For Sallie and Steven, the central premise behind Gippsland Jersey was to pay tribute to Sallie’s father through a business model based on fairness and kindness. In their minds, there were two main considerations to be made: 1) using clean and sustainable farming methods; and 2) providing support for other dairy farmers. Steve saw to the initial provision of milk from his herd of fourth-generation Jersey cows, and their impeccable genetics guaranteed beautiful milk. The next task was to find someone to process their product:

We simply Googled processes. It’s funny because all of these names came up that Dad used to talk about. It kind of gave me respect when I walked into these meetings and said that I’m the daughter of Michael Bowen, which is amazing… Obviously we didn’t have a plan and we didn't know how it was going to pan out – but the power of social media. We simply launched Instagram and Facebook and told our story photo by photo. It was a steep learning curve, but now we’re eight weeks into the brand. It’s been a whirlwind.
Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey with a Jersey cow, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey with a Jersey cow, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

With the product and branding well underway, Sallie then focused her sights on what could be done to give back to the dairy farming community in order to support those undergoing industry hardships. For her, it all comes back to raising awareness around mental health issues:

What I’m trying to do in terms of Gippsland Jersey is talk about mental health and the importance of being open and having conversations. Medium sized farmers and small farmers are working on their own, so they’re not connected and they don’t have as many friendships or relationships. So when they do finish up farming, they don’t know what to do with themselves, which can often lead to mental health concerns – it certainly happened to my Dad. There’s a stigma around mental health, so just being able to smash that open and say, “Let’s have a conversation about suicide and the ripple effect through those communities and families.” It’s absolutely devastating and I feel that raising awareness around these issues is my purpose in life.
Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Gippsland Jersey is a force for positive change. By returning a portion their profits to the farming community, bringing other dairy farmers into their brand (paying a fair price for their milk), and advocating for mental health organisations like The Ripple Effect, Gippsland Jersey is able to help support the emotional wellbeing of their fellow dairy farming families:

It’s not about money, it’s about looking after our dairy industry. We can’t solve the dairy crisis but we can do our bit to inspire other people to think outside the square. Farmers have the power. Farmers have all the power. So for me, I feel like I’m just starting the journey of hopefully inspiring other farmers to stay in the game.


The importance of connectivity:

While the mission of Gippsland Jersey emphasises connections within the dairy farming community, Sallie also recognises the importance of connectivity between the producer and the consumer, and the farmer and the wider community. She first became involved in the networking scene earlier in life as a PR consultant. Having successfully completed a public relations course, Sallie was offered a position with a consumer-based consultancy firm where she engaged with journalists and mainstream media, and even advocated for the benefits of raw milk. Armed with a new vision for the branding trade, Sallie was inspired to launch her own PR and marketing consultancy.

Gippsland Jersey signage with social media links, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Gippsland Jersey signage with social media links, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

By drawing upon a specialised skill-set, Sallie has been able to bolster the visibility of the Gippsland Jersey campaign, connect the consumer to the producer, and engage with the wider community:

I read a quote saying, ‘Your wealth is only as big as your connections, or your network.’ So over the last 15 years I’ve taken a genuine interest in people and I love connecting with people. I really feel as though people want to support farmers, but they don’t understand how they can do that – so, through farmers’ markets and the work that you do, to host conversations and give them experiences.
For me it’s more about being able to tell those farming stories and being able to connect the consumer with the farmer. I was brought up with an understanding and a work ethic, and I understand the mentality of farmers. But then I also understand the consumers and what they would want to see and what they would want to hear. So, I guess I sit somewhere in the middle these days in terms of being a farmer. I’m a value-adding, marketing, storytelling farmer! 
Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey with her children, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey with her children, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have also materialised as essential tools for the Gippsland Jersey project. Social media is a game changer that has allowed farmers to share their stories with the wider community, and has given consumers an opportunity to get to know them:

To have a positive story emerging is exciting not just for the dairy farmers but also for the consumers. The consumers want to back something that’s good. So, for example, we had a crowdfunding run, and we raised over $32,000 from people donating their money for a milk truck. We called it The Milkshake Truck. For Gippsland Jersey, we need to grow our brand and grow the brand awareness, and we can only do that by getting ourselves out there. It’s not just about The Milkshake, it’s about the connections and about them seeing real farmers doing stuff that’s cool and inspiring younger farmers.
Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey with her son, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey with her son, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

For those with an entrepreneurial spirit, social media offers a plethora of marketing and networking opportunities. In the case of Gippsland Jersey, Sallie and Steve have often welcomed cross-promotional collaborations in their branding strategies by sharing other people’s stories; and as an advocate for social media, Sallie encourages farmers to take full advantage of these collaborative opportunities – ‘Don’t do it solo. Find people that can help you on your journey.’

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Women’s voices:

What Sallie has been able to achieve with Gippsland Jersey is no small feat. Weathering through hardship and tragedy, she has taken up the mantel for positive change in ensuring fairness and kindness in the dairy industry. Reflecting on where she is today, Sallie takes a moment to share her personal experience as a woman in the industry:

When I was young, the men’s voices were always the loudest; but it was the women – my nana and my mum – that had the most impact in terms of really being able to get stuff done behind the scenes. My attitude has matured over the years and I think there is definitely a spot for women’s voices to be heard really loudly now, whereas I don’t think it was when I was growing up. You know, Mum didn’t necessarily have the confidence to ever take the front role; she always let Dad do that. So, I’ve had to push that boundary for myself to say that it’s okay for me to have a voice.
I guess I’ve been surrounded by some pretty powerful women that have shown me how to do that. It’s not necessarily something that’s been in my family – I’ve had to go out and learn how to assert myself with my own female voice, and develop my own style on how that happens. Especially in the dairy industry; it’s quite a male-dominated field, so there’s not many women doing things. I know I’ve got a strong self-identity and I know who I am; well I’m still learning who I am, but I guess I feel like I know my purpose. I’ve got the freedom, I’ve got my feet grounded, and I’m okay – I’m not shaky in that.
Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Sallie Jones of Gippsland Jersey, Jindivick, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

By openly sharing her journey with the world, Sallie is recognised as a role model for the younger generation of women farmers. Holding to a deep sense of responsibility to her community, Sallie has expressed her hopes of being a living resource for these young women by offering them advice and helping them to find their own voice:

For me, I hope to be able to mentor younger women and give them confidence. I know that they’re looking to me and seeing how the story rolls out, and hopefully it will inspire them to do something that’s outside of the box. Farming isn’t what it used to be. So, by offering that insight and showing what can be done, I’m very happy for my life to be an open book and let them see how that plays out. So I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow – I’m just on this crazy journey and it’s very exciting. 
 

Want to know more?

*If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health concerns, please seek help via organisations such as Beyond Blue, the Ripple Effect or Lifeline.

*This blog post is based on an interview between Catherine Forge (Museums Victoria) and Sallie Jones (Gippsland Jersey), December 2016. For further information on this interview, please get in touch with us.

 

Make History - Get Involved with the Invisible Farmer Project

By Catherine Forge (Curator, Invisible Farmer Project, Museums Victoria) and Liza Dale-Hallett (Project Lead, Invisible Farmer Project, Museums Victoria)

Do a Google image search for “Australian farmer”. You will find that 80-90% of the results depict men, despite the fact that women contribute at least 49% of real farm income in Australia. Women have always been active contributors on Australian farms and agricultural enterprises, yet their stories have sadly not been adequately represented in the public sphere (read more about this here). 

Image: courtesy of Invisible Farmer ABC Open Tribute, "The forgotten females of Australian farming", submitted by Brigid Price, available here: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/186008

Image: courtesy of Invisible Farmer ABC Open Tribute, "The forgotten females of Australian farming", submitted by Brigid Price, available here: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/186008


We all know that women are not invisible though. On the contrary, women are vital and central forces on their farms, in their communities and across a wide spectrum of farm enterprises in Australia. From remote outback cattle stations to peri-urban market gardens, women are leading change and contributing greatly to their industries, families, economies and communities.

The Invisible Farmer Project aims to bring the stories of Australian farm women into the spotlight. In doing so we hope to re-shape the public face of Australian agriculture so that future Google searches will reflect the Australian reality - that women in Australia contribute hugely to Australia's farm economy, and that their unique and diverse stories deserve to be heard.

Image: Rhonda Patton on her goat farm, courtesy of Invisible Farmer ABC Open Tribute,  "Rhonda Patton, Developing a Smaller Dairy Goat", Drouin South, Gippsland, submitted by Ilana Leeds, available here: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/188029

Image: Rhonda Patton on her goat farm, courtesy of Invisible Farmer ABC Open Tribute,  "Rhonda Patton, Developing a Smaller Dairy Goat", Drouin South, Gippsland, submitted by Ilana Leeds, available here: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/188029


How You Can Help – The ABC Open Tributes

Have you seen the tributes being posted on ABC Open to women on the land? These tributes are a key part of the Invisible Farmer project. They invite you to share a photograph, along with a short tribute, to a fantastic woman that you know. This woman will have contributed to agriculture, farming or food and fibre production in some way. She might already be well-known in her community, or she might be a quiet achiever. She might be your friend, neighbour, colleague, mother, grandmother, daughter, aunty or cousin, and she will no doubt have an amazing story that deserves to be told. 

Image: Nikki Mann picking berries, courtesy of Invisible Farmer ABC Open Tribute, "Out of Africa and into new beginnings" by Nikki Mann (tribute author), available: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/187492

Image: Nikki Mann picking berries, courtesy of Invisible Farmer ABC Open Tribute, "Out of Africa and into new beginnings" by Nikki Mann (tribute author), available: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/187492

We know there are thousands upon thousands of women on the land and on farm enterprises in Australia - yet to date we have only received a small number of tributes. In some industry groups, such as the seafood industry, we still haven't received a single tribute. The Invisible Farmer project is seeking your help to build a treasure trove of tributes – we want you to swamp the ABC with thousands of tributes to represent the diversity of women across Australia and the many ways they work our lands and waters.

Image: Rosemary Waugh Allcock on her property in Taloumbi, courtesy of Invisible Farmer ABC Open Tribute, "Portrait of a Lady", Taloumbi, NSW, submitted by Debrah Novak (tribute author and photographer), available: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/108722

Image: Rosemary Waugh Allcock on her property in Taloumbi, courtesy of Invisible Farmer ABC Open Tribute, "Portrait of a Lady", Taloumbi, NSW, submitted by Debrah Novak (tribute author and photographer), available: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/108722

What Will Happen With the Tributes?

The ABC will ‘harvest’ these tributes for TV, radio and online programs. This is a special and unique opportunity to:

  • Showcase the diversity of Australian agriculture, food production and land use
  • Give women a voice and build their confidence to stand up, be seen and heard
  • Encourage girls and women to see a future for themselves in agriculture
  • Link producers and consumers by creating a better understanding of where our food and fibre comes from
  • Give women the public recognition and respect that they deserve
  • Provide you with the opportunity to pay tribute to someone that you believe deserves to have their conributions recognised
Image: Anna Lashbrook photographed by Jacqueline Cooper, courtesy of Invisible Farmer ABC Open Tribute, "Scratch, Scratch, Peck", submitted by B Lashbrook (tribute author), available: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/185422

Image: Anna Lashbrook photographed by Jacqueline Cooper, courtesy of Invisible Farmer ABC Open Tribute, "Scratch, Scratch, Peck", submitted by B Lashbrook (tribute author), available: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/185422

Get Involved Now!

Join the Invisible Farmer project and make history! Write a tribute today, ask your family and friends to write one too. In doing so you will help to ensure that women’s stories and contributions become more seen and heard in the public domain, leading to a more inclusive and sustainable future for us all!

Posting a tribute is easy. Just a few words and a photo. Here's some ideas to get those tributes flowing:

  • Create a story circle - invite friends & family to eat, drink, talk and post tributes in a group
  • Start a trail of tributes - post a tribute and then ask that woman to do the same (via email) - see how long your trail of tributes can be!
  • Post a tribute for Mother's Day - write about your mother, your grandmother, your great grandmother or an important mother-figure in your life
  • Men, here's your chance to honour the fabulous women in your lives - sisters, mothers, wives, partners, colleagues, daughters, aunts, friends and other awesome women
  • Get your children or students involved in the history-making process by asking them to write a tribute for their mother, aunt, grandmother or an important female in their lives

The deadline for tributes is Mother’s Day, 14 May. If you want your tribute to appear in time for Mother’s Day it must be submitted by 8 May 2017.

Amy Paul of Ruby Hills Organics, Walkerville, South Gippsland

By Ash Robertson (Museums Victoria) and Catherine Forge (Curator, Invisible Farmer Project)

Industry: Organic poultry farming
Name of enterprise: Ruby Hills Organics
Location: Walkerville, South Gippsland, Victoria

Amy Paul with chickens, Walkerville, South Gippsland, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Amy Paul with chickens, Walkerville, South Gippsland, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Amy’s Story:

On a beautiful 85-acre piece of organic farmland in Walkerville, South Gippsland, Amy Paul and her husband Nicholas Paul work in partnership to channel a burgeoning passion for organic farming and environmental sustainability into their family business, Ruby Hills Organics. Together they care for nearly 4000 contented laying hens that are free to roam the land and ‘graze and laze’ as they please.                                 

Organics:

Previously based in Queensland’s beef production and genetics industry, Amy describes the journey to organics as a natural progression in both her professional career and personal life. For Amy and her husband Nic, their passion for clean and accessible food was ignited by a transition to parenthood, leading to an ever-growing mindfulness of wellness and nutrition, and a desire to ‘be part of the wheel of change’:

When we had children, my husband and I realised the importance of what we were putting in our bodies. We just developed an awareness of our health and illness, prevention of illness, and really came to the conclusion that it was stemming from the food that we were producing. In Queensland we were producing beef, but we weren’t directly involved with the food that was going down the chain, and we were living in a place that had a lot of cotton crops and a lot of sprays going over our house. We just knew that we had to get out of there. Now we’re farming to produce food that we would feel proud to feed our family and feed the world.
Amy Paul with chickens, Walkerville, South Gippsland, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Amy Paul with chickens, Walkerville, South Gippsland, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

As an advocate for the organics movement, Amy recognises the benefits of clean, unmodified food production and serves as a voice of encouragement for those farmers who may be considering the transition. While organics can often be perceived as synonymous with difficult farming practices, Amy believes that conventional farmers may find the transition easier and far more worthwhile than expected. She readily admits that ‘organics is a whole different ballgame,’ but understands that the benefits are too abundant to be ignored. Sharing her feelings on achieving and maintaining certification, and how organics resonates with her, Amy states:

It’s about care for the animals, the welfare for the animals, and what we’re doing for the future. With organics, we follow a standard and that standard is written for us. We follow a certain way of farming that is great for the animals, great for the environment, and great for nutrition. It’s a highly regulated system and we get audited annually, and we fill out all sorts of forms and paperwork in order to have that certification. It does mean a lot to us because it’s actually food that we eat ourselves and that we want to give our children – we’re producing clean and healthy food that is doing good by the world, both in an environmental way and by our health.

 

Sustainability and Indigenous land use:

Amy Paul with chickens, Walkerville, South Gippsland, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Amy Paul with chickens, Walkerville, South Gippsland, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

As well as running her farm and raising her four children, Amy has devoted considerable time and energy to raising awareness around issues of sustainable land use and alternative farming methods. As a local activist, Amy has been long involved in campaigning against coal-seam gas in Gippsland, and was thrilled to celebrate Victoria’s recent ban on coal-seam fracking. Moreover, Amy is also invested in raising awareness of Indigenous Australian farming methods. Feeling a deep connection to Indigenous communities through her Native American ancestry (Amy grew up in the United States and her grandfather was half Native American), Amy believes that it’s of vital importance that farmers take more interest in the lessons that they could learn from Indigenous history, culture and land use:

I feel connected to the Indigenous story. Now that we’ve put our roots down on this farm, I want to know more about its history, and I want to know what’s happened here on this land. I want to know what we can do to nurture the relationships with our Aboriginal community – locally, but also on a National scale. It’s vital to our success in the future for our children to be able to learn what’s happened on this land prior to them being here, and what’s good for it, and how they can embrace the community. It has been tragically and intentionally forgotten. I would like to see them inherit something that’s connected to the people that have been on this land for a long, long time before us. We really need to look in agriculture to what the Indigenous people have been doing on this land, and learn from that.
Amy Paul with chickens, Walkerville, South Gippsland, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Amy Paul with chickens, Walkerville, South Gippsland, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

For Amy, her family’s connection to the local landscape is motivated by a desire to have minimal impact on the land. ‘I’m really passionate about farmers looking after the land’, states Amy. To this end the family farm not only runs to organic principles, but Amy and her husband Nic have also built their own off-grid home using recycled and salvaged building materials, and they are increasingly growing a large bulk of their fruit and vegetables on-site so that the family can remain as self-sufficient as possible.

 

Importance of community and the role of women:

Throughout her journey, Amy has maintained a deep sense of appreciation for community and the value it holds. When they moved from Queensland to Victoria, Amy and Nic were welcomed by the local South Gippsland community, and Amy believes that this was an incredibly important step in enabling their farm to be successful: ‘When we got down here the community was beautiful, they welcomed us’, she recalls, ‘without the local community it wouldn’t be the same journey for us.’

Speaking to her personal experience, Amy pays special tribute to the women of her community, recognising the vital role that they have played in both her personal life and the success of their company through an endless provision of support:

I have a tribe of amazing women that I surround myself with and they’re the people that buoy me at the right times. When you have a family and you’re on the farm, it’s a multifaceted business that women have to juggle. You have to put on so many hats; it’s incredible. That tribe of women are crucial to running any kind of business, and there's a beautiful rise up of women that are supporting each other. In this particular community, there are a lot of women that reached out to us and wanted to get to know us better, and the feeling was mutual.

When asked if gender issues have ever limited her work potential – or led to difficulties or challenges when balancing so many hats– Amy responds: ‘yes, there’s gender issues that happen, and they have happened to me as well… but you’re a product of what you let sink in, and I know that I’m perfectly capable.’ For Amy, gender is not a limitation; she views her family business as a team effort that involves different but complimentary, and equal, roles:

There’s a lot that happens on a farm behind the scenes that women are responsible for, and I think that just managing the family is great. I’m Mum first because I’ve got four small children and they take up a fair bit of energy, but it’s a group effort really – the six of us on this farm. For me, I do the marketing, the social media and the books. I also mark lambs and deliver our produce. I also keep the social strings happening, and the community strings.
Amy Paul with chickens, Walkerville, South Gippsland, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Amy Paul with chickens, Walkerville, South Gippsland, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Connecting the social strings between producer and consumer

Since relocating to Victoria in pursuit of the organic dream, Amy and her husband have successfully amassed a community of loyal followers who have not only become invested in their organic products but also their organic farming story:

We get these beautiful messages and they mean so much to us, from people that buy our produce or come to the farm. Just knowing that we’re helping people to find that nutritional need for them is really lovely. And I think that people like to connect to the farmer, to the farm, and to know what’s happening.  So we occasionally send out little messages in our egg cartons and that sort of thing, just to keep connected to everybody on a more personal-sized scale.
Amy Paul holding eggs, Walkerville, South Gippsland, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Amy Paul holding eggs, Walkerville, South Gippsland, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Ruby Hills Organics supply their eggs locally through small stores and grocers, and they also deliver a bulk of their eggs through to Melbourne markets and niche organic stockists. Amy enjoys being able to stay connected with her Melbourne customers, and believes that the connection between farmer/consumer and city/country is of vital importance. Her message to the general public is to stay informed about where your food comes from, and to support your farmers: ‘I think it’s about supporting what’s happening locally in your area and supporting your individual shops that are selling beautiful from-the-farmer food.’ This support can be face-to-face, in-person support, but it can also happen across digital platforms and social media. For Amy, Instagram and Facebook have provided great vehicles for spreading stories relating to her family’s business, and for connecting with her city-based consumers.

When reflecting on her own journey as a farmer and egg producer, Amy Paul points to a small egg and then holds it in her hand as she reflects on her family’s journey. ‘It all comes back down to that beautiful egg’, she comments:

That egg enables me to be in a beautiful place in the world, raising my family. [That] egg enables us to incorporate our children into the land. It enables us to be a part of our community. It enables us to be stewards of the land, to look after our wildlife and our chooks. It’s a tiny little egg, but it actually has a great big picture surrounding it.
Amy Paul holding eggs, Walkerville, South Gippsland, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Amy Paul holding eggs, Walkerville, South Gippsland, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Want to know more?

Follow Ruby Hills Organics on Facebook and Instagram

Read about the Invisible Farmer Project on Museum Victoria's Collections Online

Uncovering Photographic Images of Women Farmers at Museums Victoria

By Ryna Ordynat (Masters Student, Deakin University)

Ryna Ordynat working on her internship at Melbourne Museum, Carlton Gardens, 2017, Photograph: Liza Dale-Hallett

Ryna Ordynat working on her internship at Melbourne Museum, Carlton Gardens, 2017, Photograph: Liza Dale-Hallett

Between September 2016 and February 2017, I had the amazing opportunity to take part in the Invisible Farmer Project headed by Liza Dale-Hallett (Senior Curator of Sustainable Futures) at Museums Victoria. I was keen to do an internship as part of the Master of Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies at Deakin University, and especially one with the prospect of working with women's histories and collection management. I began applying to various museums and heritage organisations around Melbourne, one of which was of course the Museums Victoria, and was thrilled to hear back from them, offering me the chance to be part of a project that focused on telling the rarely heard stories of Australian women farmers.

Soon after starting at Melbourne Museum I learnt that photographic imagery of Australian women farmers was scarce in the public domain. I also learnt that even though the agricultural collection of Museums Victoria is extensive – especially in regards to photography related to agriculture – women still appeared rarely, or were difficult to locate. I was therefore excited to learn that the work I was about to do would make an attempt to bring the photographs of women farmers in Australia to greater prominence. The internship carried with it the opportunity to work with and research the museum’s image collections, and to track down photographs depicting Australian farm women.

[Photograph 1]: Original keywords used to catalogue the photo; 'farm animals', 'fences', 'sheep'. Image attribrution: Two Women Feeding Lambs, Bahgallah, Victoria, 1939, Source: Museums Victoria, MM2742, Photographer: J. Richardson.

[Photograph 1]: Original keywords used to catalogue the photo; 'farm animals', 'fences', 'sheep'. Image attribrution: Two Women Feeding Lambs, Bahgallah, Victoria, 1939, Source: Museums Victoria, MM2742, Photographer: J. Richardson.

The Invisible Farmer Project at Melbourne Museum

At Museums Victoria the Invisible Farmer Project draws on the ‘Sustainable Futures’ collection, comprising over 86,000 sustainability and agriculture-related objects, documents and images. There are thousands of photographs in the online collections catalogue that capture rural life in Australia from the mid-19th century. The issue that my internship addressed was the obscurity of the many photographs like these which depicted women on farms. Why was it so difficult to locate images of farm women in the catalogues? Why were women largely invisible in the collections? I came to understand that the reason was often due to inaccurate or incomplete metadata and tags associated with the photograph, making it difficult or even impossible to locate such images.

What is metadata?

What is metadata? Simply put, it is a term that refers to the way we describe and classify the objects in the collection, so that users are able to search and find the images under these descriptive categories, keyword searches or ‘tags’. For example, if you give a museum curator an image of a cow in a rural landscape, the types of ‘tags’ or keywords they might use to describe the image would be ‘cow’, ‘rural’, ‘farm’, ‘farming’, ‘agriculture.’ The problem that arises with metadata, however, is the fact that images have sometimes been incorrectly or inadequately tagged, or perhaps they haven’t been tagged at all. This is especially common when dealing with images that have been catalogued using different catalogue systems (before the advent of the Digital Age) that weren’t given a category or ‘tag’ at all, or that were labelled inconsistently. For example, the image of a cow in a rural landscape could have depicted a woman standing beside the cow, but the person that catalogued the image might have failed to make note of this.

[Photograph 2]: Original keywords used to catalogue the photo; none. Image attribution: Two women and a man working in a cherry orchard, Blackburn, 1938, Source: Museums Victoria courtesy of Ann M. Kriegler, MM110823, Photographer: Unknown

[Photograph 2]: Original keywords used to catalogue the photo; none. Image attribution: Two women and a man working in a cherry orchard, Blackburn, 1938, Source: Museums Victoria courtesy of Ann M. Kriegler, MM110823, Photographer: Unknown

Discovering and re-tagging images of Australian farm women

In order to work through the metadata inconsistencies of the online collections, I first had to plan an effective methodology. I began by doing a thorough search of the collection, to better understand the scope of what was available. I noted that most images that appeared in such searches as ‘rural women’ and ‘women farmers’ did not adequately represent the scope of what the collection actually held and my search yielded very few results. I would need to dig deeper and with this in mind I decided to extend the search to make a list of general tagging terms such as ‘agriculture’, ‘farms’, ‘agricultural equipment’, ‘agricultural workers’, ‘rural life’, etc. Additionally, I created a list of more specific tags describing actual tasks, actions or features that may appear in photographs I was looking for, such as ‘milking’, ‘poultry’, ‘harvesting’, ‘farm animals’, ‘cereal crops’ and ‘agricultural produce’. Using these terms revealed many interesting photographs featuring women performing all sorts of tasks on farms in the late 19th and early to mid-20th century. These women's lives, stories and lived experiences would have been indiscoverable, and rendered invisible, without the correct tags and subject headings to search and locate them.

Photograph 1 is a typical example of the problems encountered, where the tags included failed to account for the people and the setting, including the female farm workers. Photograph 3 describes the tractor that appears in the photograph, but fails to mention that it is driven by a woman. Finally, for an extreme example, consider Photograph 2, which had no keywords associated with it whatsoever. In order to address this problem I updated the museum records to include the following keywords: ‘farms’, ‘fruit’, ‘orchards’, ‘agricultural produce’, ‘agricultural workers’, ‘women on farms’, ‘women in agriculture’, ‘women farmers’ and ‘women’s work’.

[Photograph 3]: Original keywords used to catalogue the photo; agricultural equipment, tractors. Image attribution: A women sitting on a tractor, Yarraby, Victoria, 1930, Source: Museums Victoria, MM5538, Photographer: Unknown

[Photograph 3]: Original keywords used to catalogue the photo; agricultural equipment, tractors. Image attribution: A women sitting on a tractor, Yarraby, Victoria, 1930, Source: Museums Victoria, MM5538, Photographer: Unknown

After I made a list of all photographs I had managed to locate through this method, I developed several new tags and descriptions (such as ‘rural women’, ‘women on farms’, ‘women farmers’, women’s work’, ‘women farmers’, etc.) that would allow me to adjust the metadata to make these photographs more acccessible and visible in the collection. Using the museum’s database software, ‘EMu’, I went through the original catalogue records and edited them to include the appropriate additional tags so that subsequent searches for 'female farmer' would yield much better results.

What I learnt during my internship

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be part of a project of such importance, and I can safely say that during my time with Museums Victoria I have learned a great deal about the museum industry and the people that form it, about museum collections and how they are managed, and about the important role that curators play in the development, the research, and the significance of the collection. I also came to understand the importance of the relationship that Museums have with the communities that they represent in their collections, and the need to continuously promote, encourage and maintain such relevant connections with people's lives and stories.

Most significantly, I have gained a fascinating insight into the lives of Australian rural women, both past and present. Women appear to always be in the thick of things, getting their hands dirty and busy while managing to keep an eye on their children, riding tractors and getting involved in family and community work. My internship work illustrated to me most vividly how many hidden stories still remain to be seen and told in the collection. It also opened my mind to the fact that this problem of women's invisibility in photographic collections is not unique to Museums Victoria, and would no doubt be experienced across the wider network of museums in Australia and worldwide. It is of utmost importance that museums, collecting bodies and historians start to reflect on this important issue and take remedial steps to properly document the history of Australian farm women.

Want to know more?

Explore Museum Victoria's Collections yourself, here: https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/ 

Lisa Sartori of Dirty Three Wines, South Gippsland

By Ash Robertson (Museums Victoria) and Catherine Forge (Curator, Invisible Farmer Project)

Industry: Wine – Pinot Noir and Riesling
Name of enterprise: Dirty Three Wines
Location: Leongatha South, South Gippsland, Victoria

Lisa Sartori on her vineyard, Dirty Three Wines, Leongatha South, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Lisa Sartori on her vineyard, Dirty Three Wines, Leongatha South, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Lisa’s Story:

“Our wine tells a story of love and abundance”, states Lisa Sartori, a 49-year-old viticulture farmer from South Gippsland, Victoria. Lisa – in partnership with her husband Marcus – is a proud owner and operator of Dirty Three Wines, an 8-acre vineyard in South Gippsland that specialises in Pinot Noir and Riesling.

Lisa was not born into the wine industry; she previously held a career as an investment banker before entering into viticulture alongside her husband Marcus. Her passion for wine, however, began much earlier on, during childhood, and is deeply linked to her Italian heritage and the memories that wine evokes for her:

My grandparents used to buy a barrel of wine each year; it was a rough red from South Australia. It came across on the train, and they would bottle it into beer bottles that would be their annual supply of wine. So from an early age we were part of the celebration of the barrel coming, where there was food on the table and the wine was bottled. Either someone would come and go home with a bottle of wine, or they would come for a meal and sit and enjoy the wine on the day. So, where I haven’t come from a wine industry family, I think that it was instilled from a very age that it’s lovely to share food and wine with family and friends.

Lisa Sartori on her vineyard, Dirty Three Wines, Leongatha South, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Lisa Sartori on her vineyard, Dirty Three Wines, Leongatha South, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

With an incredible sense of appreciation and respect for the process of wine production, Lisa continues to instill this connection to family and friends through a shared experience of food and wine. Lisa and Marcus have twin daughters Ava and Ruby (aged 13), and Lisa believes that the sharing of wine and food is a gift that can be passed down the generations:

For our children and the generations to come, it’s about enjoying family, friends, and food and the festive side of drinking wine. It’s what we embrace with our girls. I’m sure one day they’ll want to be in amongst their friends and experience what we all have. For us it’s about teaching our children’s generation and beyond that the celebration of food and wine is an amazing story.

Adding to this sense of connectedness, Lisa also explains how wine-making has provided her with an opportunity to truly connect to the environment and awaken her passions for the landscape that the vineyard inhabits. The name “Dirty Three” is a unique moniker in that it represents the three distinct varieties of soil from which the vines are grown, and Lisa is inspired by her connection to the land she works on and the abundance that it provides:

It’s an amazing energy that the earth gives us. We’re very lucky to have our feet in the ground every day…I’ve always had a connection with the land as such; however, being able to be on the land every day, experiencing the seasons every day, has become my passion… The connection for me is just being in such a beautiful space. It’s abundant and beautiful and it provides us with very happy vines that talk to us, that embrace us with their beautiful lush leaves and their amazing fruit.  It’s great to see the vines wake up; it’s great to see them grow.

Lisa Sartori and her husband Marcus Satchell on their vineyard, Dirty Three Wines, Leongatha South, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Lisa Sartori and her husband Marcus Satchell on their vineyard, Dirty Three Wines, Leongatha South, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Lisa’s role at Dirty Three Wines is varied and involves a mix of office work and client communications alongside hands-on outdoor activities that are dictated by the seasons. In summer Lisa drives a tractor to keep the grass mowed and she also ensures that the vines are growing up through the trellis correctly (shoot-positioning).  She then picks the grapes and goes through a process of testing and tasting to develop the wine and bring out the flavours. In winter she prunes. ‘We’re governed by our weather and our seasons’, states Lisa, ‘so the day-to-day is literally what is needed on that particular day.’

Being based in South Gippsland, Dirty Three Wines is a cool-climate wine producer. Cool-climate wines are prized for their lower sugar levels, higher acidity and their herbaceous, spicy and floral flavours. One of the concerns facing Lisa and Marcus is their reliance on the weather to produce the cool-climate characteristics that their wines are known for:

Weather is a challenge for us every year. Last year wind was a massive factor for us. We lost a lot of our crop to the flowering season and the November winds… I’m not a scientist so I don’t know the words around climate change, but it does feel as though we are getting warmer, so that will be a challenge for us. Yes, climate change is going to be a massive challenge for us, however I’m not sure how this will play out in the coming years.

Lisa Sartori on her vineyard, Dirty Three Wines, Leongatha South, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Lisa Sartori on her vineyard, Dirty Three Wines, Leongatha South, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

For Lisa and Marcus, one of the ways that they are meeting challenges is to stay connected with their industry and their local community. ‘Connections to me are everything’, states Lisa, ‘we’re really lucky to have like-minded people that are interested in what the land can produce.’

Like the vines she so carefully and devotedly cultivates, Lisa views her relationships within the wider community as a living social network, which requires constant care and nurturing to allow it to flourish and thrive:

It’s about connections. The vines are connecting and growing, and so are we. I see it as they do what we do, and we do what they do. I enjoy people and so our connections to our beautiful community of people is always growing. South Gippsland is an amazing food bowl, and connecting with our community is everything… For me it’s more about being able to tell those farming stories and to be able to connect the consumer with the farmer.

As a testament to their dedication to community outreach, Lisa and her husband often travel to Melbourne to offer wine tastings and seize opportunities to interact with their consumers and suppliers. In order to encourage more informed and understanding relationships that bridge the gap between producer and consumer, Lisa chooses to engage with the wider community through sharing their farming stories. These stories speak to a duty of environmental care and stewardship, community support, and a family business that overflows with love and abundance.

Lisa Sartori and her husband Marcus Satchell on their vineyard, Dirty Three Wines, Leongatha South, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Lisa Sartori and her husband Marcus Satchell on their vineyard, Dirty Three Wines, Leongatha South, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Want to know more?

Visit Dirty Three Wine's website, here: http://dirtythreewines.com.au/the-people/ 

Follow Dirty Three Wines on Facebook and Instagram

Read about the Invisible Farmer Project on Museum Victoria's Collections Online

Molly Clark and the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame

By Dianna Newham (Curator, National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame)

The National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame in Alice Springs was founded by a woman on the land, Molly Clark, and this is her story...

Molly Clark seated at the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame at the Old Alice Springs Gaol in 2010, Photographer: Unknown, Source: Supplied: Dianna Newham

Molly Clark seated at the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame at the Old Alice Springs Gaol in 2010, Photographer: Unknown, Source: Supplied: Dianna Newham

In 1955 Molly Clark arrived at the 3,410 square kilometre station at Andado, around 330 kilometres south-east of Alice Springs with her husband Mac and three small sons. Previously, the young family had been working on grazing properties between Broken Hill, Birdsville and Tennant Creek.  At Andado, they lived in the original 1920’s homestead for a few years, building a new one a few kilometres west. The old homestead was left to fall down, but in 1969 Molly decided to resurrect it and turn it into a homestay operation as an alternative income during drought years. The project took almost 20 years to fulfil during which time she physically worked on getting the building and surrounding area habitable. 

The 1970s witnessed a catalogue of personal crises: one son had a life-threatening accident; Molly's husband suffered a fatal heart attack after crash landing his light aircraft; and her eldest son was killed by a freight train whilst driving his prime mover across a railway line at night. By the end of the decade, Molly had also lost her livelihood, when the Northern Territory government were forced to destroy all her cattle following a brucellosis scare. Molly continued to work on her tourist venture – one of the first of its kind – at Old Andado, which was now her home. From the mid-1990s, she welcomed guests into her 1922 corrugated iron and timber home, set amongst alternate landscapes of flat gibber and giant sand dunes.

In 1993, Molly and supporters in Alice Springs established the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame. In the late 1980’s, Molly had visited the now famous Stockman’s Hall of Fame and, in response, felt the need to establish a museum dedicated to commemorating the contribution and achievements of Australian women.  As Molly later said:

I was sick of seeing women forgotten while the men got all the praise.  I was backing my husband and I knew hundreds of other women who’d backed theirs all the way through but you never heard what Mrs So-and-so did, it was only what Mr So-and-so did.  Well, Mr So-and-so could not have done it without the backing of his wife…My dream is just to see that women were recognised.

Molly’s story is not unusual for the women of Central Australia, and many more of these stories are told in our exhibition, Women at the Heart. The work of local Arrernte and other Aboriginal women, and the friendships between these women and the newcomers is also recognised. Central Australia’s pioneering women, black and white, often transcended narrow, nationally endorsed stereotypes about women’s work. As many an early male commentator noted, the outback could not have been settled without them. In 1929, for example, John William Bleakley, the Chief Protector of Aborigines in Queensland, declared:

The lubra … one of the greatest pioneers of the Territories, for without her it would have been impossible for the white man to have carried on ...”

Display panel from the exhibition, Women at the Heart, National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame.

Display panel from the exhibition, Women at the Heart, National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame.

We also recognise Australian women on the land in our exhibition What’s Work Worth? The first objects displayed in this exhibition are a handful of wangurnu seeds (collected by Pulpuru Davies, Gibson Desert, Western Australia in mid-2000) lying on a grinding stone.  Aboriginal women throughout Central Australia and the Western Desert worked laboriously at the time-consuming task of finding, grinding and baking seed, and we open our exhibition by acknowledging this work.  It has, in fact, been argued that industrialised flour was integral to the colonisation of Central Australia.

"Flour" cluster, What's Work Worth? National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame

"Flour" cluster, What's Work Worth? National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame

We also reference the story of wool in Central Australia, in a cluster of objects which show shears, a washboard and an acetylene lamp.  Tom Roberts’ iconic Australian paintings and stories about the important role shearers’ strikes played in the establishment of the Australian Labor Party have masculinised our perceptions of shearing. Local history, however, tells another story. Outback women who spent years working on Centralia’s family owned pastoral properties, often did the shearing as well.   

"Wool" cluster, What's Work Worth? National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame

"Wool" cluster, What's Work Worth? National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame

Sheep shears also remind us of the cross-cultural dimensions of a sheep, rather than cattle-based, pastoral industry. Margaret Bain, who described herself as Centralia’s last missionary, was convinced that sheep were much more encouraging of a family centred Aboriginal nomadism than cattle. Sheep, unlike cattle, required close supervision. Local pastoralists, including the missionaries at Ernabella for whom Margaret worked, often employed Aboriginal women as shepherds. Shepherding enabled these Aboriginal women to travel through country with their children, hunting and gathering as they always had. It also enabled them to trade their work for highly prized European goods. 

The washboard was donated by Jean Weir (nee Chalmers) and was used on MacDonald Downs station in Central Australia.  Like many outback women, Jean Chalmers played an integral role in helping her family drive their 400 sheep, 13 horses and a few goats from the New South Wales-Queensland border to take up a pastoral lease in Central Australia in 1925. The washboard became obsolete when Jean acquired a pump up and down washing machine.

These are just some of the stories of Australian women on the land referenced in our museum.  The term “farmer” is not common usage in the Northern Territory and part of our role in the Invisible Farmer project is to bring in stories and perspectives from Central Australia, to show the truly national contribution of women on the land.

We are proud to be a partner in the Invisible Farmer project and look forward to working alongside Arrernte and other Aboriginal women to highlight Indigenous women’s current and future contribution to land management.  We will also develop new content relating to women on the land to add to our existing exhibitions and highlight the work of these women in our monthly oral history program, Stories from the Heart.  In closing we would like to pay homage to Molly Clark for establishing our museum, and enabling us to capture and celebrate the diversity of women's stories.

Want to know more?

Visit the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame website:
www.pioneerwomen.com.au

Follow the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/NPWHF/

Farm to Farm: PhD student from Idaho, USA, Meets Women Farmers in Victoria, Australia

By Tagen Baker

As a visiting research associate for Museum Victoria, and a PhD student in Utah State University’s Department of Environment and Society, I had the opportunity to explore the diverse landscape of Victoria and interview and photograph women farmers—to learn from them about their histories, responses to climate change, and how they adapted their agricultural practices to sustain themselves and their families. I wanted to know how their experiences have been similar or different to women in my home state of Idaho, USA.  How have women been key agents of change embedded in their environments? How do women farmers provide unique perspectives and contributions to the futures of agriculture and to their communities?

Tagen Baker (PhD student from Idaho, USA) with Elizabeth Mace, Field Officer for G.V. Crop Protection, Goulburn Valley, 2016.

Tagen Baker (PhD student from Idaho, USA) with Elizabeth Mace, Field Officer for G.V. Crop Protection, Goulburn Valley, 2016.

As part of my research process, I asked women if I could photograph them with an item of value. This item opened up a unique opportunity to communicate and learn about the farmer’s lives. The item chosen was not only symbolic as a physical item of value, tangible and necessary, but a portal into a storytelling journey, a symbol of their rich and unique life experiences.

I interviewed, Brialey Brightwell, a berry farmer from Hoddles Creek who explained her item of value was her chainsaw:

 I find it quite important because I love getting wood for the fire, but I always had to be dependent on having a man with me who was going to cut the wood. When my husband bought me my chain saw, it meant I could go get wood without having to ask someone to come and help me. I like being independent.

While interviewing Brialey about her item of value, I learned that having wood burning fires in the home were part her family background and culture. She uses the firewood to heat her home, hot water for showers, and for cooking on the stove. Cutting wood from fallen trees on her property was also part of her daily work to maintain the farm.

Brialey Brightwell holding a chainsaw on her farm property, Nerrigundah Berries, Hoddles Creek, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Tagen Baker.

Brialey Brightwell holding a chainsaw on her farm property, Nerrigundah Berries, Hoddles Creek, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Tagen Baker.

In the agricultural sector in Victoria, there are many layers of knowledge and forward thinking required to sustain each farm. No farm has the exact same ecology. Similar to Idaho, there is great diversity in the types of crops that are grown and a long history of seasons of drought. All farms require water to survive. Climate change is a constant concern and requires the ability to manage timing and usage of water for the specific needs of each property and crop. In an interview with Elizabeth Mace, a Field Officer for G.V. Crop Protection, she discussed the change of irrigation practices over the last 20 years. At the beginning of her career, 70 percent of pear trees in the Goulburn Valley were flood irrigated. Since that time, many initiatives have been in place to help save water, such as micro sprinklers. She said, “It has made a big difference… you have to have diversity, to understand that water is precious and have to really time [irrigation] at the right time, not just flood irrigating every two weeks.”

Elizabeth Mace, Field Officer for G.V. Crop Protection, Goulburn Valley, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Tagen Baker 

Elizabeth Mace, Field Officer for G.V. Crop Protection, Goulburn Valley, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Tagen Baker 

Like farmers in Idaho, growers in Victoria have shifted irrigation practices to help conserve water as well as provide a more efficient options to support dynamic growing systems. As noted by Rien Silverstein, a horticultural farmer who chose two aerial photographs of their orchards in Tatura and Orville as her item of value:

 The photographs are very symbolic of the changes in the industry, and to come to terms with climate change affecting the micro-systems that are in the farm. In the photographs, you can actually see those changes to the farm, the first image looks like a patchwork of what you can actually do and the other one looks more like a very fine embroidery, because each tree is planted very close together now . . .  there is lot more science into growing fruit trees now.

The imagery showcased the changes in the technology, but also how women farmers are embedded in their environments, testing different types of technology and methods that best suit the agricultural processes of their farms.

Rien Silverstein sitting in front of aerial photographs of her pear and apple orchards in Tatura and Orrvale, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Tagen Baker

Rien Silverstein sitting in front of aerial photographs of her pear and apple orchards in Tatura and Orrvale, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Tagen Baker

Rien Silverstein standing in front of her orchard in Orvalle, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Tagen Baker

Rien Silverstein standing in front of her orchard in Orvalle, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Tagen Baker

Throughout my time in Victoria, a strong theme that emerged during the interview process was the support women offer to one another and the importance of neighbours and community. The nearest neighbour could be a fair distance away. However, friends and neighbours provide assistance and emotional support during times of crisis. Sarah Parker, a dairy farmer in the Shepparton area and current President of the Australian Women in Agriculture Inc, shared an experience she had when she first moved onto her farm in 2007, during one of the worst years of drought on record in the Goulburn Valley. Without the feed to support their dairy, they had to bring in hay:

We had fifteen loads, that’s fifteen trucks of hay delivered in one day and a rain storm hit. The hay was sitting upwards, not on its side. We had all this hay sitting on the front yard, along the road, and on the front paddock. The next thing we knew, we had four different neighbours arrive with tractors. We had only been their two or three months and they came and tipped the hay over.

Sarah noted there is a relationship of trust within the women’s agricultural community when it comes relying on friends and neighbours for help and insight. She and her friend and fellow dairy farmer Gemma Monk both expressed the importance of communication and having a stable network of support, in order to conduct business, manage upcoming weather to determine management aspects of the farm such as paddock rotation, and for emotional support. When asked to choose an object that signified their role on the farm, both Gemma and chose their phones, demonstrating the importance of connectivity and communication on the farm.

Sarah Parker of Glencliffe Agribusiness in Shepparton, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Tagen Baker

Sarah Parker of Glencliffe Agribusiness in Shepparton, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Tagen Baker

Sarah Parker and Gemma Monk holding their phones, Shepparton, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Sarah Parker and Gemma Monk holding their phones, Shepparton, 2016, Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

After completing my field trip to Victoria, it became evident the network of communication among women farmers is one of the most vital aspects for the successes of farms in Victoria. Information sharing is paramount to every aspect of managing a farm, and looking forward to sustainable futures. I am excited to be a contributor the The Invisible Farmer project, because it will be a nexus of information sharing, providing in-depth histories and stories, as well as strategies for securing a sustainable future for agriculture. The project will add another dimension of information sharing, as farmers all over the world will be able to access the stories and knowledgebase unique to Victoria and the women who live there. Although the stories will be distinctive to these women and their lives, threads of commonality will be evident across geographical and cultural boundaries.

Want to know more?

To find out more about the Project and visit Melbourne Museum's Collections:
http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/articles/14480

To view Tagen's photography work, visit her Instagram page:
https://www.instagram.com/tagenjenphotography/

Amelia Bright of Amber Creek Farm, South Gippsland

By Catherine Forge (Curator, Invisible Farmer Project)

Amelia Bright with her daughter Hazel at Amber Creek Farm in Fish Creek. Photograph: Catherine Forge, Source: Museum Victoria, 2016.

Amelia Bright with her daughter Hazel at Amber Creek Farm in Fish Creek. Photograph: Catherine Forge, Source: Museum Victoria, 2016.

Industry: Pork - pasture raised Wessex Saddleback
Name of enterprise: Amber Creek Farm and Sawmill
Location: Fish Creek, South Gippsland, Victoria

Amelia's story:

Reflecting on why she became a farmer, 28-year-old Amelia Bright recalls that “I fell into farming by accident.” Amelia was living and working as a prosthetist in inner Melbourne before she decided to take the plunge at farming pigs with her husband Dan Bright in Fish Creek, South Gippsland. Both Amelia and Dan had grown up in South Gippsland, but Amelia didn’t meet Dan until much later in life and never imagined that she would one day return to her home region to join him in establishing a 165-acre pig farm specialising in high quality pasture raised pork!

Amelia and Dan started their farm on a block of land that Dan had purchased prior to meeting Amelia. This block of land had once been part of a dairy farm situated next door to where Dan had grown up, and as a child Dan had helped to clear away tea tree with his grandfather, and had watched the landscape be logged and cleared. For both Amelia and Dan, a strong motivating factor leading them into pig farming was a shared sense of connection to their home region of South Gippsland, along with a deep concern for the local environment:

We care about the environment we live in. It’s our responsibility to keep our waterways in the best possible condition and care for the soil and to fix any erosion that was here prior to us coming. It’s our responsibility, and it is part of the reason we farm.

Amelia and Dan have worked hard in the past seven years to revegetate their property with native plants and trees, strive towards a neutral pH soil balance, create compost locally from pig and cow manure and to follow zero waste and organic farming principles. Their hard work has paid off and the farm is now entirely off-grid and self-sustaining. In tandem with the pig farm Amelia and Dan also operate a sawmill that uses locally sourced salvaged timber and supplies the farm’s compost, firewood, animal bedding, shelters and pig ‘home pads’. Amelia is driven by the belief that ‘everyone who owns their own small patch of land needs to take responsibility for the path that the planet is heading.’

Amelia Bright feeding pigs on her property at Amber Creek Farm, Fish Creek, 2016. Source: Museum Victoria, Photograph: Catherine Forge.

Amelia Bright feeding pigs on her property at Amber Creek Farm, Fish Creek, 2016. Source: Museum Victoria, Photograph: Catherine Forge.

Animal welfare is also a high priority at Amber Creek Farm. According to Amelia: ‘we care how the animals are raised and what we’re eating… the pigs are sentient beings, they deserve to have a high quality life and to not be stressed for their whole lives’. The pigs at Amber Creek Farm live outdoors for the entirety of their lives and have unrestricted access to shelter, fresh water and wallows at all times. Unlike other commercial pig breeds, they do not have their tails docked or their noses ringed to prevent foraging, and are instead free to roam in the soil and graze on a diet that is rich in nutrients and free of chemicals, hormones, drugs or GMOs.

This kind of open range farming isn’t without its’ difficulties and learning curves, but Amelia believes that it results in happier pigs and a higher quality, better tasting meat. It also allows Amelia to be involved, hands-on, with every stage of the process. She feeds the pigs, transports them to the abattoirs and then helps the butcher cut and pack the meat before selling the pork direct to customers: ‘I’ve got complete control over what happens to that animal’s life from the time its’ born to the time I sell it.’

Selling high-quality pork to her customers gives Amelia great joy, but when asked about how she feels about the Australian pork industry, Amelia responded that there were some major problems within the industry. For Amelia, the most pressing concern is the confusion surrounding the industry’s current labelling standards and the associated difficulties that consumers face when trying to choose which pork to purchase:

Confusion between free range, bred free range, pasture raised, barn raised, sow stall, sow stall free… it’s all quite abstract and relatively easy to manipulate those terms. You can still be called “free range” but technically live in a shed. So a lot of the problem is around language and the consumers will need to drive what happens within that industry space.

Amelia’s advice to consumers is to get informed, to research the food that they consume and to ask questions of their food suppliers. ‘Ask questions to your butcher’, she suggests, ‘do your own quick research and make your own informed choices.’

Pigs foraging for food at Amber Creek Farm, Fish Creek, 2016. Source: Museums Victoria, Photograph: Catherine Forge

Pigs foraging for food at Amber Creek Farm, Fish Creek, 2016. Source: Museums Victoria, Photograph: Catherine Forge

Another way to stay connected to the food that you eat, argues Amelia, is to try to purchase locally grown produce where possible. Amber Creek Farm operates as an entirely local business servicing the South Gippsland region and providing pork directly to consumers via local farmer’s markets and through a small number of local produce outlets, with the occasional trip to Melbourne to hand-deliver orders in the inner-north. Most recently Amber Creek Farm has joined a local co-operative, Prom Coast Food Co-Op, that provides another mechanism for selling their meat locally.  ‘Know your farmer, know where your food comes from’ is Amber Creek Farm’s website motto, and Amelia believes strongly in the importance of staying connected to her customers and her local community. In fact, being connected to her local community is one of the major factors driving Amelia to farm:

We couldn’t run our business without the support of our local community. Our products are mostly sold within a 30-50km radius or less, and we’re able to do that because of the support of the community. By having a farm and being a farmer I get to be connected to our property and to our land and to our community. The connectedness I think overall is really important.
Amelia Bright holding her daughter Hazel, Amber Creek Farm, Fish Creek, 2016. Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Amelia Bright holding her daughter Hazel, Amber Creek Farm, Fish Creek, 2016. Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Amelia and Dan were married on their property in 2014 and have since had a young daughter Hazel. For Amelia, her daughter has grounded her to the farm in a way she never anticipated:

My daughter really embodies my whole farming journey, cementing my place here on the farm. Hazel was born at almost 43 weeks, so I was feeding pigs up until about 40 weeks with her, and from day dot… Hazel is part of our journey and part of caring for the land. She’s part of us, and she’s part of the farm.

Hazel and Amelia are joined at the hip most days, with Hazel travelling around the farm in a sling on Amelia’s back. ‘Most of the time she just pops on my back and away we go’, states Amelia, ‘I get to spend a lot of my day with Hazel whilst working, whereas not everyone can take their children to work with them.’ Hazel might still be a young toddler, but this doesn’t stop her from being incredibly active on the farm. She digs, she helps paint logs at the saw mill to stop them splitting, she empties the pig troughs and she travels to the farmers markets and butchers with Amelia. Amelia believes that this rural upbringing provides her daughter with a rich and diverse learning environment, and an innate understanding of where her food comes from:

It’s a brilliant education for her to see how food is produced and how animals and ecosystems interact with each other and the consequences of doing it properly, or having errors along the way. It’s a great way for her to learn, by having a visceral connection to the land and playing in creeks and bush and exploring.
Amelia Bright sitting with her daughter Hazel in a tractor, Amber Creek Farm, Fish Creek, 2016. Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Amelia Bright sitting with her daughter Hazel in a tractor, Amber Creek Farm, Fish Creek, 2016. Source: Museums Victoria, Photographer: Catherine Forge

Amelia also believes it’s important for her daughter to watch her mother work on the farm, and to learn that her opportunities are not limited by traditional gender norms or stereotypes:

We’d really like her to grow up really capable and to see that both Mum and Dad can wield a hammer, and so can she, which she likes doing. She has complete choice over what direction her life is going to go in, and as long as she’s capable and can build those skills now, she continues to have choice.

As a 28-year-old female farmer Amelia Bright looks to the future with cautious optimism, and holds hopes for a future where women like her daughter will have equal opportunities. However, when asked about the role that farming women play in current society she laments that some women’s roles continue to remain invisible in the public eye, perhaps due to the fact that they have contributed to the farm via an off-farm income, and perhaps because women are, quite simply, just too busy!

I think between helping on the farm, working on the farm or off the farm and doing the lion’s share of the domestic duties, there’s not a whole lot of time for self-amelioration of ‘wow, look what women are doing’! We’re too busy. We just get on with it.

Amelia reflects that farming can be difficult, overwhelming, time-consuming and financially challenging at times, however despite these factors she wouldn’t change a thing. When asked what she will be doing in ten years’ time, Amelia’s response comes quickly and with no hesitations: ‘We’re not going anywhere. We’ll be here.’

*All quotes and material taken from an interview between Catherine Forge and Amelia Bright, Fish Creek, 2016, Source and Copyright: Museums Victoria, Registration HT 49676.

Additional Images:

Want to know more?

You can stay in touch with Amelia's story, here:

Website: www.ambercreekfarm.com.au
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmberCreekFarm
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ambercreekfarm

To find out more about the Project and visit Melbourne Museum's Collections:
http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/articles/14480

PhD Scholarships on Invisible Farmer Project

The Invisible Farmer, funded as an ARC Linkage project, is the largest ever study of Australian women on the land. It will combine personal narratives and academic research to map the diverse, innovative and vital role of women in Australian agriculture. The project is based on a creative partnership between rural communities, academics, government and cultural organisations, and aims to:

  • Create new histories of rural Australia
  • Reveal the hidden stories of women on the land
  • Learn about the diverse, innovative and vital role of women in agriculture
  • Stimulate public discussions about contemporary issues facing rural Australia and its future
  • Develop significant public collections that will enable far reaching outcomes in research, industry and public policy

Funding is available for scholarships to support two postgraduate research projects. We are seeking expressions of interest from suitably qualified candidates who must be available to commence on 27 February 2017. Formal position descriptions and information on high to apply will be made available as soon as possible.

Postgraduate project 1: A history of the Australian Rural Women’s Movement in the late 20th century.

The successful candidate will conduct research that draws upon archival material created during previous studies to document the history of the Australian Rural Women’s Movement. They will also collect life history interviews to expand and develop existing collections. Using an innovative mix of oral history, digital technologies and material culture the candidate will contribute to the larger ARC funded project as it reframes the narrative of Australian history to highlight the role of women on the land.

The candidate’s research will be situated at the intersection of multiple fields: oral history and collecting/curating methodologies, gender/women’s studies, public policy, sociology, social and cultural informatics and digital humanities. They will be co-supervised by Professor Joy Damousi in the history programme in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne and Liza Dale-Hallet, Senior Curator, Museum Victoria

Candidates would be required to meet the entry requirements of a PhD – that is an honours degree (H2A and above) in History, or in related fields such as Gender studies, Heritage and Museum studies.

Candidates must be able to commence their enrolment on February 27, 2017.

Postgraduate project 2: An analysis of the contemporary position of Australian women in agriculture

The successful candidate will conduct research with rural women to understand the contemporary opportunities and limitations to women’s leadership in agriculture and the impacts of these on the health and sustainability of rural communities. The research will complement the history project and build on our understanding of the contributions of rural women. The candidate will add to previous studies of rurality and gender and conduct original interviews and focus groups. Using a mixed methodology the candidate will contribute to the larger ARC funded project as it reframes the narrative of Australian history to highlight the role of women on the land.

The candidate’s research will be situated at the intersection of multiple fields: sociology, social work, gender/women’s studies and social policy. They will receive targeted training in gender studies and feminist analysis. They will be co-supervised by Professor Margaret Alston at Monash University and a research focused member of the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR).

Candidates would be required to meet the entry requirements of a PhD – that is an honours degree (H2A and above) in Sociology or another related social science discipline.

Candidates are to commence their enrolment as early as possible in 2017.

Candidates interested in applying for either scholarship should forward their expressions of interest to Dr Nikki Henningham via email at n.henningham@unimelb.edu.au.

Expressions of interest should include:

  • clear identification of which scholarship the application wishes to apply for,
  • a 1-2 page document outlining formal qualifications, work experience and any other features that support the applicant’s suitability for candidature.
  • in the case of applicants for Scholarship 1, a statement indicating their availability to start on February 27, 2017. In the case for Scholarship 2, a statement indicating their earliest starting date.