Have we taken our badge of honour too seriously – I am a farmer I wear many hats

I have been watching with great interest the agriculture sector call to arms to tighten our biosecurity protocols to keep Foot and Mouth Disease and Lumpy Skin Disease out of Australia

There are messaging experts all over of the world. I am yet to see my generation of agriculture embrace this area of expertise.

As an example the acronyms FMD and LSD mean very different things for non farmers

I was impressed that it was young people in agriculture who were early embracers of the possible confusion of the acronyms and cleverly drew it to the attention of others and the movement towards positive action messaging was quickly adopted.

As part of our school programs we engaged messaging expert Les Robinson to share with teachers and students best practice

We use campaigns like MLA’s Myth Busting Campaigns as examples of how NOT to do it

We invite schools to show us how we could do it better

Google Good Meat – wow two very different sites.

Good Meat

Good Meat

If the big idea is to stop the scroll and look up the website – mmmh   – I leave the thinking behind this strategy to some-one else

I do my bit to explain it here using what I have learnt from the messaging experts

Young people are so exciting – they are ACTIVE and they are AWARE. They have the capacity to create movements of change.

Lets give them agency and voice. Let them become the new experts


and leave it to Cathy Wilcox to remind me humans are not an homogenous group

We dont have a skills shortage problem we have a workplace culture problem

Yesterday I attended a forum for business leaders who had been invited to have input into the RAI Rebalancing the Nation – Regionalisation Consultation Paper 

There was a comment made by an expert in the skills training space that resonated with me

“we don’t have a skills shortage problem per se we have a shortage of workplaces with the culture that people want to work in”

Last night I hosted a workshop for 15 of our Young Farming Champions facilitated by leadership culture expert Cynthia Mahoney 

The conversations around the table indicated we have a lot of work to do in agriculture on our CULTURE. What is exciting is these young people are investing their time as life long learners to help us get it right


Creating a better world together

This week our Young Farming Champions are continuing their deep dive with Cynthia Mahoney into How to Ask for More, they are learning to handle the people who are stuck in the drama triangle and in particular the people who want to be rescued. I personally find them more insidious than the bullies

I am very passionate about giving our Young Farming Champions the skills to take others on the journey with them as painlessly as possible.

I definitely don’t want too many people to feel the need to go on my journey to drive change.

Persistence is part of my DNA, thinking “no” means “almost YES” a glass half full strategy.

When you get a reputation as a person who never gives up ( if only they knew how wrong they are – I tried that once – wasn’t very good at that) others who mean well often take advantage.

I have had some very rewarding wins

I have been on some scary journeys. When some NSW vets asked me would I step up on this and have it phased out  I hadn’t even heard of the practice ( nor had most farmers in states beyond Victoria and Tasmania – Again this is an example of the push to have food at rock bottom prices is not good for animals or people or the planet.) It took 9 years but it happened, and it certainly told me agr-politics was not for me.

In 2022 I am on a mission to enable everyone who works in agriculture to feel they can be loud and proud. That the best people apply and stay to work in the industry that helps nourish the nation.

I have been around long enough to know there are still several things we have to address before we can put our hands on our heart and say we are doing enough as a sector to achieve that.

This takes are lot of lobbying and sometimes in my case calling things out.

Its hard work, at times I struggle and I journal my pain.

We can all work together and build a better world or we can focus on bettering our world

I am grateful to everyone who is on this journey to build a better world with me.

People have very long memories

My experience with Dairy Australia happened a long time ago. 

Why am I talking about it now.

Its because I am not a one off. I am one of a possible class action  of many, many undervalued people who have passed through their doors.

This was hammered home to me recently. I was part of a team who put together a successful National Careers Institute Grant Round 3.

A model that had the potential to turn agriculture on it head and genuinely empower the sector to drive real profitability for its farmers.

When we launched the campaign to sign up the changemakers, I found roadblocks within my circle of dairy influencers

“You are kidding me Lynne – there is no way in the world I am going to promote something that will make Dairy Australia look good when they have nothing to do with its success”

It was then I knew we needed a serious culture change. The culture at Dairy Australia isn’t a one off.    Not enough of  our research and development corporations are not fit for purpose

How do fix this?


How do you fix a problem not enough people seem to realise we have?

My post yesterday came from a place of deep hurt. In fact my entire world is driven by my emotions.

When I came back to agriculture 20 years ago I knew there was a very good reason why I left in the first place. I didn’t want to milk cows but I did want to use my talents ( whatever they were ) to get the best outcomes for the industry my family loved so much.

It turned out I did have a talent I didn’t know I had and that was designing and delivering action learning programs for young people 

To hone my talent I sought our John Hutchison and Deanne Kennedy at JayDee events who have been delivering Cows Create Careers for the dairy industry.

John and Deanne are magnificent humans and together with Cathy Phelps ( who at the time headed up the Natural Resources Management department at Dairy Australia) we created a farmer focused first iteration of Picasso Cows where young people in primary schools explored healthy landscapes, clean waterways and energy efficient dairies. I got it funded and piloted it for two years and then Dairy Australia wanted it.

The first Picasso Cows were traffic stoppers

I was aware the budget would be in Marketing and Communications (M&C) . The people who run schools’ engagement at Dairy Australia are nutritional experts. The Dairy Australia version of Picasso Cows would not be farmer focused and instead have a health and nutrition focus

All well and good, that is their area of expertise,  but not my passion so I walked away. Handed over all the IP everything for no remuneration and knew that it was in good hands been looked after by John and Deanne.

Is Picasso Cows still being looked after by John and Deanne? No it isn’t. When will people in Marketing and Communications realise grass roots programs are successful because they are grass roots programs and the best people to deliver them are the grass roots ?

A couple of years ago Dairy Australia made the decision to no longer fund Cows Create Careers . It was so rewarding to see the farmers go into battle to have Dairy Australia reverse their decision. As I said John and Deanne are magnificent humans, they have a rapport with the demographic of farmers I don’t- the over 45’s

I also created a highly successful series called “Jhet and Emma – A Day in the Life of Two Young Girls working on a Dairy Farm ” series for the NSW DPI LandLearn program. The DPI insisted it be housed on their website. When they shut down LandLearn did they let me know the Jhet and Emma series would disappear into the ether? No they did not. Hours and hours and hours of pro bono time and a highly successful education series gone forever .

And this was just the beginning of the extractive world of agriculture I found myself in. After 20 years I feel like an abused housewife who knows deep down no matter how much people say they are going to change, the problem is too endemic, yet she keeps going back for more.

So I ask myself, why is the culture in agriculture like this and there is a good reason

Everyday WE ( Australians) wake up expecting food at rock bottom prices to be a birth rite. We are asking farmers to do what they do and we aren’t prepared to value it. The system proliferates this mindset. The supermarkets wake up everyday on a race to the bottom competing on price alone.

Food is 10% of income in this country. 70 years ago it was 50%. Our farmers getting up everyday to produce food at rock bottom prices gives us a disposable income to spend on other things.

Our farmers feel undervalued. The sector feels undervalued. Undervalued people tend to focus on problems and don’t have the energy to seek out solutions. They tend not to value people who do.

Change starts with us

How do we start the regenerative process?



Best practice workforce development – what does success look like?

I am very excited that the charity I founded has received National Careers Institute funding to prototype and pilot a model for best practice workforce development.

I am putting a lot of pressure on me and the people I am surrounding myself with to ensure we deliver a successful model that is replicable and scalable by any industry.

Working in agriculture for the last 20 years I have seen so much money wasted.

I have also seen people and organisations delivering pockets of brilliance . How impressive is this People in Agriculture  which is a partnership between a number of agricultural sectors leveraging the brilliance of the people at Dairy Australia who created People in Dairy

In the first instance – surely we could all work miracles if we bought the pockets of brilliance together so we could learn from each other because this is what people committed to best outcomes for the people they serve do.

Whilst I have seen some brilliance at Dairy Australia  I have seen a lot of things that don’t make any sense to me at all. My area of expertise is designing and delivering programs that empower young people to take action on issues that matter to them.

I created Picasso Cows for Dairy Australia. That  meant I have worked with their Marketing and Communications teams because that’s were the budget for school engagement sits.

Can agriculture fix its images and perceptions issues through marketing and communication?

I am 100% confident that it cant.

The only way we ( farmers and the businesses that support us) can attract and keep employees is by being the places that people are proud to work for.

This requires the capacity and capability to self reflect on our businesses. Simple things like how does my business present to the public. One example rubbish and piles of old machinery lying around are not a good look.

I spent 25 years working in the world of retail. We got taught this stuff. Who is helping people in agriculture self reflect.

When we get ourselves right THEN and only then can we let the people in marketing and communications do their thing  with confidence

Organisations like Dairy Australia can lead by example and show us how its done.

Lets start by taking the pressure off the Marketing and Communications team – they cant fix things that are out of their control

Who do you channel when you need to flex your courage muscle?

Everyday I get to work with extraordinary young people doing extraordinary things

The person who gives me the courage to keep turning up everyday is an octogenarian

His name is E. Professor David Lindsay AO FTSE and my claim to fame is I am his niece and the flower girl at his wedding. Yes that’s me on the left.

He has more courage than any scientist I have ever met in the world of agriculture. He challenges the research and development corporation that will potentially fund his team’s science at the highest level.

If only other industries had scientists with this courage, just imagine how exciting the agriculture space could be

In 2022 will we have the courage to hold up a mirror to ourselves and ask the big question ?

Our Young Farming Champions are participating in a series of workshops with Cynthia Mahoney doing a deep dive into Alexandra Carter’s groundbreaking book “Ask for More” 

I am enjoying the sessions and this resonated with me

Many people believe that it takes two to make a conflict, but you only need one car to have an accident! When you examine what brought you to this place, you’ll have better information to help you move through it. If you’re internally stuck, you can still go through both sides of the situation and look at the conflicting feelings, patterns, and facts that are leading to the stagnation you feel.

Today I sent our Impact Report to our funding partners. I shared my personal joy at getting the best return on investment for the organisations we work with who have all recognised investing in young people (K-12, higher education, early career) is where Australia is going to have the most impact.   Young people may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future and very importantly young people are aware and they are active and they have the capacity to take others on the journey .   

I shared that 2022 has been a rewarding year for me.

      • The highlight has been getting $ from the National Careers Institute to protype a workforce strategy that any sector can replicate and scale.
      • Receiving state Government and Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation funding for the Young Environmental Champions program
      • Our YFC being invited to speak at conferences across the world

I also shared my frustrations and hopes and dreams

Whilst I enjoy supporting young people (K-12, higher education and early career) to take action on issues that matter to them, the agriculture sector remains a sector I don’t understand and continues to frustrate me.


    • The agriculture invests in programs that aim to lift young people up whilst the wider culture in the sector rewards them for learning to fit in, for staying small, for not self-promoting.  Cynthia Mahoney touched on it in a recent YFC workshop  
    • The agriculture sector is desperately short of labour but has no workforce strategy
    • The agriculture sector has very black mark for modern slavery – yet appears to makes no real effort to address it

In 2022 will we have the courage to hold up a mirror to ourselves and ask the big question ?


Culture change can start with acknowledging the pain and respecting the expertise

This post is a reprint of a recent article in AFR.  For me the article’s ethos highlights an opportunity for us all to change our thinking from believing we are all experts on everything to acknowledging and valuing many, many people have dedicated their lives to obtaining expertise is specialist fields. I have been working with teachers for 15 years
“Schools are complex ecosystems, interconnected and intertwined communities that require qualified practitioners to navigate and to educate so that we can give our next generation all the skills they need to make informed choices in their lives.”
I have been working with farmers all my life and listening and hearing their ask to be seen, heard, understood and valued.
I watch from the side lines the pain Indigenous Australians continue to feel.
Surely creating a culture we all want to be part of is a shared responsibility that starts by acknowledging the pain and the respecting the expertise

Fed-up school principal says critics ‘have no idea’

Julie Hare Education editor

The head of an elite private school has railed against baseless attacks and misinformed opinions about teachers by politicians “who actually have no idea what they are talking about” while calling out their remedies for complex issues, such as falling educational standards, as simplistic.

Briony Scott, the principal of Wenona School in North Sydney, said teachers were trivialised, their profession bastardised and their contribution overlooked by a generation of political decision makers who see the world in black and white and have no comprehension as to the complexity of the school “ecosystem”.

Outsiders and politicians like to tell Briony Scott how to do her job and she’s had enough. Louie Douvis

In an impassioned speech at a conference about female educational leaders, Dr Scott said everyone, having attended a school at some stage, considered themselves an expert with their opinions often misinformed and too-rarely imbued with facts or evidence.

“Every couple of years an education minister or prime minister will say something along the lines of ‘we should focus on the basics of how to read and write’. And I’m like, oh, I hadn’t thought of that one,” Dr Scott said.

“They say schools must focus on character and values and in my head I’m thinking ‘have you heard of Aristotle? What do you think we have been doing for the last 2000 years’?

“And then I think, they have no training, but they [think they] know more about my profession, what I do with my three degrees and where I have worked on the ground for decades. Tell me again, how to do my job.”

Dr Scott elaborated on the complexity of the teaching profession by detailing what is not, in theory, part of her job, but is nevertheless intrinsic to it.

“I’m not a family counsellor, but I have sat with children and held their wrists as they were bleeding, patched countless self-harm injuries, told a child that their mother has died and they just found her body,” Dr Scott said.

“I’ve ridden in far too many ambulances to count, counselled warring parents, dealt on the front line with medical issues, accidents, alcoholism, mental health, breakdowns, suicide, domestic violence, murder, bankruptcy, unemployment, homelessness, and couch-surfing primary school students. Tell me again, how to do my job.”

She went on. “I’m not a medical doctor. But I have students who are walking around with defibrillators in case their heart stops, epi pens in case their body stops, nebulisers in case their lungs stop. And yes, I confess to the crime of talking about sexuality. I have talked to my students about sex and consent, long before it became a political football or an openly discussed subject,” she said.

“I’m not a police officer, but I give students advice about where to go when they’ve been assaulted or raped. What to do if someone stalks them online or at the bus stop. I explained over and over that child pornography laws apply to them if they send a naked photo of themselves online, even if their boyfriends ask them to, or how to get out of a car when the person who wants to drive has drunk too much. Tell me again how to do my job.”

Dr Scott said she is not an extrovert, but has dressed in too many ridiculous costumes to count to raise money and awareness for various issues. Neither is she an expert in cybersecurity but has found herself helping a 14-year-old take down a porn site she created so people would like her more.

She is not a lawyer, but has spent days in courtrooms as an expert witness, prepared subpoenas, “interpreted and misinterpreted court orders, parent restraining orders, and been threatened with legal action too many times to list”.

She said she had been imperiled, trolled and “silenced by those who think I should know better”.

“Education is my profession. And despite popular but lazy stereotypes, I don’t expel students for vaping or for being obnoxious or for having dodgy parents. I don’t turn my back on the quirky, the illiterate and the children who aren’t gifted.”

“The whole purpose of education is that it is given to every child so that they have the opportunities to make informed choices about who they want to be, what they want to do and where they want to go. I appreciate that it doesn’t always work this way and that we have huge inequalities that need addressing.”

Dr Scott said politicians had in recent months accused teachers of being extremists, of indoctrinating students on gender fluidity and climate change “because of this belief that we can’t be trusted”.

She said teachers were judged by school performance in various tests, such as NAPLAN, PISA, higher school certificate and ATAR – “all interesting measures but frankly, the equivalent of a butter knife in an operating theatre”.

‘Dud teachers’

In March, Stuart Robert, then acting federal education minister, blamed “dud teachers” for the decline in the academic results of Australian school students.

He told an independent schools conference that the “bottom 10 per cent of teachers” who “can’t read and write” were a key reason for Australia’s plummeting performance in the international education benchmark tests.

“Our society has the right to determine and influence what happens in schools. I have no problem with that. But schools are not political playing fields nor are we chess pieces to be moved at the whim of others,” Dr Scott said.

“Schools are complex ecosystems, interconnected and intertwined communities that require qualified practitioners to navigate and to educate so that we can give our next generation all the skills they need to make informed choices in their lives.”

Dr Scott said it was time teachers stood up and defended their profession because without doing so, they were “handing it to people who have no idea how to do this job”.

Julie Hare is the Education editor. She has more than 20 years’ experience as a writer, journalist and editor. Connect with Julie on Twitter. Email Julie at julie.hare@afr.com
  •  #CreatingaBetterWorldTogether

Agriculture has become an esoteric career – our workforce shortage tells us it critical we normalise it

15 years of research has shown our team at Action4Agriculture that agriculture is an esoteric career pathway

The current workforce shortage in agriculture makes it pivotal we change this

Our research knowledge allows us to start where our audience is at

The first step being awareness. There is a career for everyone in agriculture.

I am an interesting case, whilst I am a 6th generation farmer, continuing that tradition was the last thing on my mind when I went to uni and became a community pharmacist

I enjoy getting the audience images and perceptions of what a pharmacist does?

Most people have no trouble giving some version of this


I then talk about my next career pivot 

mmh don’t tend to get too many of these answers

I then talk about my next career pivotThen I channel the JFK visit to NASA and his conversation with the janitor story and share with the audience how what I did on each career step of my journey made me feel

Which slides do you think goes with each career?