Conference aims to empower women

Bale Up NSW Women in Dairy conference aims to empower women

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GUMBOOTS ON: The Women in Dairy conference attracts women from farms across NSW and interstate.

GUMBOOTS ON: The Women in Dairy conference attracts women from farms across NSW and interstate.


The 2019 Bale Up NSW Women in Dairy conference aims to empower delegates to "ignite and shine".


The 2019 Bale Up NSW Women in Dairy conference aims to empower delegates to "ignite and shine".

It is the third year WID has run the conference, which attracts women from farms across NSW and interstate.

The first conference in 2017, hosted by the Hunter/Barrington and Mid Coast WID groups, attracted more than 40 dairy industry women and tackled topics of mental health, rural resilience and succession while also providing an opportunity for valuable networking with like-minded women from across the state.

This year's conference is being held at Tamworth, NSW, from September 10 to 12. It provides for three days of networking and learning in a safe and supported environment.

The conference organisers said they aimed to provide delegates with workshops and sessions on strengthening their communities and developing skills that helped them with goal setting, leadership and communication.

Organisers said all these sessions would provide positive outcomes and give women the confidence to return to their communities knowing there was a framework of support for them and their families.

This year's panel sessions on each day will be another highlight of the conference, with inspiring stories from female farmers throughout the country.

Delegates will also hear from women farmers across the state sharing with their success in reigniting their women in dairy groups.

There will be informative sessions on:

  • Employing and retaining staff, hear from farmers firsthand how they are successfully doing it.
  • Biosecurity and animal welfare.
  • Sessions on a range of subjects will be conducted by the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program, Hunter Local Land Services, Department of Primary Industries Rural Resilience Program, Dairy NSW, Rabobank, Hunter New England Health, milk supply companies and rural stores. A highlight of the conference will be a night out at Goonoo Goonoo Station.Optional events include farm tours, horse riding and a trip to Nundle Wool Mill.

Organising committee chair Megan Nicholson is a first-generation dairy farmer on the mid north coast of NSW.

"I love working alongside my husband Geoff," she said. "Farming sustainably and producing a quality milk product gives me satisfaction in what I do every day. At Bale Up 2019 I'm looking forward to learning new skills, networking and seeing our women in dairy across NSW get away from the farm for three days sharing all things WID."

Range of speakers

The 2019 Bale Up NSW Women in Dairy Conference features a range of speakers to inspire attendees. These include:

KEYNOTE: Sallie Jones is the keynote speaker.

KEYNOTE: Sallie Jones is the keynote speaker.

Sallie Jones

Sallie Jones is the keynote speaker at the conference.

Ms Jones is a dairy farmer from West Gippsland. She is the owner and operator of Gippsland Jersey, an independent farmer-owned milk label.

Read more about Sallie: Sallie Jones - Leading change with a dash of kindness

The Gippsland Jersey project grew from a profound desire to honour the work and life of her father, Michael Bowen. The prevailing spirit and message behind Ms Jones'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.

OPENING CONFERENCE: Tamworth, NSW, dairy farmer Shirley Wilson will open the conference.

OPENING CONFERENCE: Tamworth, NSW, dairy farmer Shirley Wilson will open the conference.

Shirley Wilson

Tamworth, NSW, dairy farmer Shirley Wilson will open the conference.

Mrs Wilson hopes to inspire a new generation of farmers with her stories of endurance and resilience. Mrs Wilson says younger farmers can learn from those who've lived through decades of challenges.

Mrs Wilson and her husband Lindsay were both born on dairy farms and lived for a short time in Gloucester but were always destined to return to the land. In 1964 they went out share farming together.

"When we started people thought we were crazy because there was a drought," Mrs Wilson said. "The drought didn't finish until October 1966 so we didn't have a good start but we loved it and got through."

In 1971 they registered their first Jersey stud cow and moved to Wingham, NSW, to lease a farm, staying until 1983 when they purchased a property.

Read more about Shirley: Shirley Wilson survives farming's ups and downs

In 1987 they purchased an adjoining dairy farm, working with their son Brian. In 2000 Shirley and Lindsay handed the farm to Brian and his wife Vicki but with deregulation they needed to expand to survive and moved to a new property at Tamworth, NSW.

About 15 months ago Brian's son Todd and his wife Sarah purchased Peel Valley Milk processing plant, giving their home-grown milk a local outlet. "It's going very well," Shirley said. "Every litre produced is processed through Peel Valley Milk and it's sold in Tamworth and around local towns and as far as Newcastle.

"Women have been the backbone of a lot of dairy farms and it's a good thing that more women are now getting involved in committees."

Melinda Pavey MP

The NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey will present a session on day one of the conference. Her talk on rural women and leadership will be one to empower and inspire all.


The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program was established in 2007. There are RAMHP co-ordinators living and working across regional and remote NSW who provide advice to people experiencing mental health concerns and connect them to appropriate local services and support.

The RAMHP team has been supporting the women in dairy conference since 2016. They are also supporting the women in dairy groups across the state. Many women have been struggling (often in isolation) with the ongoing drought and industry challenges and it has been such a kind, caring and supportive role these group of people have shown over the years.

Nicky McMillan

Back at this year's conference by popular demand, Ms McMillan will be presenting a session on "Working with personalities/optimising traits and leveraging our strengths".

A certified body language trainer with the science of people, she's on a mission to share this life-changing knowledge and skills so other aspiring regional bizpreneurs, and leaders can be the best version of themselves wherever and whatever the occasion.

By showing them how to boost their presence, charisma and impact on those around them with relevant, actionable and effective tips to nailing their presentation and communication.

With a background in media and government and political communications, Ms McMillan's met and worked with people from all walks of life from the Prime Minister's office to hardworking folk across remote, rural and regional Australia. Raised in the country, now married to a farmer near Corowa in the NSW Riverina, and mum to a feisty young daughter, she's had plenty of life experience to keep her real.

Daintry Gerrand

Ms Gerran be presenting on the grants, programs and assistance available in the various Local Land Services regions throughout NSW.

Jenny Eggert

Back by popular demand, Jenny Eggert is a dairy farmer and yoga instructor.

Mr Eggert says she remembers her first yoga class on a mat, on the floor of the CWA hall in Wauchope, NSW, leotard and fishnet tights. It wasn't any of those things that gave her a light bulb moment from those classes but the ease and comfort that she felt not just physically but mentally as well, she said.

She said she was not sure if 'restorative yoga' was widely practised in the 1970s but today it was becoming increasingly popular as there was less focus on stretching muscles and more on releasing tension.

Ms Eggert plans to offer restorative yoga at the conference for all ages. Regardless of people's past yoga experience, if any, the sessions will offer a chance for everyone to experience as sense of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Chris Morrison

Chris Morrison is a certified business coach, speaker and trainer who works with business owners who are serious about taking their business and life to the top. His business Chris Morrison ActionCoach is highly focused on strategies and planning, delivering on outcomes with exceptional results.

As an ActionCoach business coach, Mr Morrison's passion is boosting profits while simplifying the business. He works with small business owners, helping them find ways to spend less time working in their business so they have more time to work on their business.

Julie Brown

Julie Brown is a dairy farmer from Tamworth, NSW.

She moved to Tamworth in 1995 from Marlee, NSW, with husband Wes and children. The couple has bought and sold a property since moving to Tamworth and moved to new property with a rotary dairy in 2017. Julie has four children and eight grandchildren; her son Mitchell and his partner Brianna work and live on the new property with their little son Braxton.

The Brown family are milking 300 Holsteins, calving year round on 195 hectares of Peel River flats and rear all their replacement heifers. They irrigate from the Peel River and underground water. They produce corn silage and lucerne hay during spring and summer, which is fed out in a partial mixed ration on a feed pad.

Rosemary Bartle

Rosemary Bartle is one of Rabobank's succession planning facilitators and has extensive experience in working with farming families to achieve successful business, family and personal outcomes.

After working with family businesses for many years, Rabobank recognised the need for a succession planning process developed specifically to meet the needs of our rural clients. Rabobank's experience in this area has confirmed that families who start the process early have a much greater chance of achieving a positive outcome for all family members, as well as their farm businesses.

Ms Bartle holds a degree in Agricultural Science from Latrobe University, a Diploma in Financial Services (Financial Planning), and a Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training. Prior to joining Rabobank, she worked with farming and pastoral families across the length and breadth of Australia as a business management consultant; specialising in business analysis, benchmarking, grazing management, facilitation and training. Growing up on a grazing property in eastern Victoria and having worked with farming families in a professional capacity for over 25 years, she has a thorough understanding of family businesses and the elements necessary to ensure their success.

Rural Resilience Program Department of Primary Industries (DPI)

The Rural Resilience Program defines resilience as a 'process' rather than an outcome or personality trait and acknowledges that levels of resilience among farmers and their families can be impacted by adverse events, The team works proactively in partnership with farming communities and service providers across NSW to strengthen networks, exchange information and deliver relevant initiatives that build personal and business resilience skills and knowledge, enabling people to move forward in a positive direction.

The program creates opportunities to connect people with support services and others in farming communities. For example it partners with other services to support local Rural Support Networks to deliver more holistic, co-ordinated and targeted initiatives tailored to a person's needs. It also supports new and existing farming groups to achieve their objectives.

The program also provides information, tools and development opportunities that build skills, knowledge and experience. Not only can it connect people to existing opportunities, it also facilitates workshops.

For more information contact Megan Nicholson, mobile 0427 567 347 or email or head to the Women in Dairy facebook page at for registration information.

This story first appeared on Australian Dairyfarmer


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