Agriculture moving to an new era of celebration not commiseration


The last five years have been the most difficult and the best times on my life’s journey

What people see on the outside is very different to the inner me and this can be exhausting. It has affected my health and I seem to bounce from one health issue to another.

Thanks to the people I have surrounded myself with, I know celebrating both the successes and the tough times make us into the person we were meant to be.

I often get asked in interviews what success looks like to me.

Two things recently stood out for me

The first came from travelling around with The Archibull Prize artwork judge and seeing the magnificent Archies the students had created, how much they had learnt about the world of agriculture and the appreciation they had gained of our farmers. It was so empowering to witness the success of a program that has gone from strength to strength

What seemed like a straightforward concept at the outset has become a trigger for so much growth and contribution

It lights the fire, then those participants, once sparked, seem to carry their own torch. The Young Farming Champions are all shining examples of this

The second came from two conversations I had in the last week. The first person had been part of a round table conversation with many indigenous Australians. She came away feeling so down, listening to so many stories of bitterness and pain

The second person had recently been to a rural women’s gathering where the take home message for her was “people in the cities have no idea how tough we have it in the bush” She said surely, they know there are many people in cities who are doing it just as tough. She too felt so disempowered. She emailed me to thank me for the opportunity to work with our programs and be in a positive bubble. She finished her email with “Let’s celebrate not commiserate”

When I first started my advocacy journey I too shared tales of gloom and doom. I found it repelled people rather than mobilised their support.

You are a product of the people you surround yourself with. I feel so blessed that in the last five years so many wonderful people have supported me to understand and embrace the power of positivity.

As Anthony Robbins wisely said, “the past does not equal the future” Success lies in loving yourself first. Only in this way can you help empower others to do the same and be part of a movement driving the change you want to see for your tribe.

With a slight tweak to a poem by Dale Wimbrow 1895-1954

The Girl in the Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self

And the world makes you Queen for a day,

Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,

And see what that girl has to say.

For it isn’t your Father, or Mother, or partner

Who judgement upon you must pass.

The girl whose verdict counts most in your life

Is the girl staring back from the glass?

She is person to please, never mind all the rest,

For she’s with you clear up to the end,

And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test

If the girl in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum,

And think you’re a wonderful girl.,

But the women in the glass says you’re only a bum

If you can’t look her straight in the eye.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,

And get pats on the back as you pass,

But your final reward will be heartaches and tears

If you’ve cheated the girl in the glass.

Success for any cohort of people trying to drive change for their mob lies in empowering others to support you.

For agriculture and indigenous people, it will take courage. It means taking risks.

It means putting aside differences and finding commonalities.

I have found young people do this naturally: they seek connection not division.

While we teach and encourage we can also learn.

Next time you are faced with a complex challenge, don’t go it alone. Reach out and seek a collaborative, collective solution.

Next time you feel concerned about the future of your tribe, think – how can I support young people to lead the way?

Encourage them to tell their stories, to step up and do a leadership program, to become the voice for the future of the sector

Because they do make a difference.

Imagine if we pooled ideas, resources, and skills across our tribes and communities?

It is an absolute bonanza of opportunity.

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