Nurturing leaders for a dynamic and vibrant industry

Since 2010, Kondinin Group and ABC Rural have recognised excellence in Australian agriculture through the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards.

The aim of the Awards is to seek out and acknowledge those in rural and regional Australia who are going above and beyond, demonstrating innovation and vision, and promoting a sustainable and bright agriculture industry.

Those who have been rewarded through the Awards are outstanding in their sectors and are giving an important voice to the remarkable people and stories from the bush.

While the Awards themselves are a magnificent avenue of recognition, Kondinin Group and ABC Rural identified a need to provide more support for winners after receiving their awards; and during 2018, ran the first of three capacity building leadership programs.

Supported by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment; the capacity building leadership program seeks to build the leadership capacity and effectiveness of the Australian Farmer of the Year award winners by providing them with unique and invaluable insights into modern leadership of Australia’s agriculture industry.

The 2020-21 leadership program

This year, the Leadership Program was held at Parliament House and was facilitated by 2019 Rural Consultant of the Year and independent leadership consultant, Sally Murfet.

Sally offered a bespoke approach to the Leadership Program; providing input not only as a professional consultant with a wealth of experience, but also as a past Award Winner and Program Participant.

This year, the program focused on the future of Australian agriculture; how winners could be instrumental in the sustainable leadership of the industry and how to face the challenges that lay ahead.

In particular, the group heard from Jared Greenville, Acting Executive Director at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES). Jared (pictured below, front centre) provided an exclusive look at Australian agriculture and gave participants ‘food for thought’ about how they can use their leadership to deal with the future challenges facing the industry.

Lucy Knight, an independent media trainer, and Warwick Long, ABC’s Victoria Country Hour Presenter, provided practical skills to assist participants with dealing with the media, staying on message and gaining confidence in managing those channels of communication.

Through an interactive session, Award’s Platinum Sponsor WFI provided insight into the importance of leadership in rural and regional Australia; how to build relationships, gain traction and manage teams. Thanks to Kent Hannam, Executive Manager—WFI Partnerships & Development, and his leadership team: Nicolla Eley, Cindy Gilchrist, Jane Jones, Mackenna Powell and Luke Ellis.

The Program concluded with a high-level stakeholder panel on leadership for a sustainable industry. The panel included Matthew Linnegar, Australian Rural Leadership Foundation; Keith Perrett, Silver Mines Ltd and Acumentis; and Tony Mahar, National Farmers’ Federation; as well as a special visit from Acting Prime Minister, the Honourable Michael McCormack MP

The Honourable Mark Coulton MP, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government and Members for Parkes, also visited to speak to his constituent Emma Ayliffe, winner of the 2020-21 Young Farmer of the Year.

ABARES Acting Executive Director Jared Greenville (centre) provided insight into the markets, trends and issues facing the industry during the 2021 Leadership Program.

Why is this program important?

Farmers and those supporting rural industries are under increasing pressure to build and maintain a sustainable agriculture industry in order to continue feeding a growing global population while facing a changing climate and challenging environmental concerns.

The Australian Farmer of the Year Awards are already a unique and established opportunity to identify the high achievers in our industry with a passion for progress, innovation and community engagement. The capacity building leadership program further develops their ability to be genuinely effective leaders and become the advocates our industry needs for a strong and vibrant future.

The capacity building leadership program provides insight into what the industry needs to not only survive, but to thrive. It gives them the skills to go forward and effectively advocate for their sectors and their community groups, encourage sustainability, engage with local leaders and be extraordinary spokespeople for Australian agriculture.

The importance of that for the Australian agriculture industry is, to face the challenges of the next decade and beyond, it needs inspired, passionate and educated advocates to not only motivate their local communities and support rural and regional Australia, but to encourage future generations to get involved in agriculture to ensure its sustainability, both environmental and economical.

We thank all those who have been involved in the program during 2018, 2019 and 2021 and look forward to continuing the support and development of rural leaders into the future.

Acting Prime Minister, the Hon. Michael McCormack MP met with Award winners during the 2021 Leadership Program.

Dr Helen Haines MP, Member for Indi, Victoria (centre) provided a look at branding and advocacy in regional communities to 2019 Program Participants.

2019 Award winners heard from an incredible leadership panel during the 2019 Leadership Program. The panel (led by Cath Botta, far left) included (from left): Bill Bulmer, AUSVEG; Pip Band, Meat and Livestock Australia; Mike Carrol, Australian Rural Leadership Foundation; Fiona Simson, National Farmers’ Federation; David McKeon, Grain Growers Limited; and Stephen Hodge, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.