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.