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, Fisheries and Forestry; 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 2022 leadership program

The Australian Farmer of the Year Leadership Program provided award recipients with unique and invaluable insights into modern leadership of Australia’s agriculture industry.

The aim of the Program is to build the leadership capacity and effectiveness of award winners, and is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).

The 2022 Leadership Program was held at Parliament House the day prior to the Announcement Ceremony and was again facilitated by 2019 Rural Consultant of the Year, and independent leadership consultant, Sally Murfet.

A significant range of industry leaders participated in the event, which illustrates the high level of engagement the program attracts. Speakers, presenters and visitors who actually participated on the day included: 

  • Senator the Honourable Bridget McKenzie
  • Rosemary Deininger Deputy Secretary, DAFF
  • Jared Greenville, Executive Director, ABARES
  • Fiona Simson, President, National Farmers’ Federation
  • Tony Mahar, Chief Executive Officer, National Farmers’ Federation
  • Dr Daniel Walker, Chief Scientist, ACIAR
  • Georgie Somerset, President, AgForce
  • Dr William Ryan, Chair, ACPWA
  • Ben White, General Manager of Research, Kondinin Group
  • Sally Murfet, Leadership consultant
  • Warwick Long, Presenter, Victorian Country Hour, ABC
  • Lucy Knight, Independent Media Trainer

There were also presenters who were engaged, but due to unforeseen circumstances, were unable to attend on the day. They included:

  • Andrew Metcalfe AO, Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
  • Matt Linnegar, CEO, ARLF
  • James Walker, Board Member, Landcare Australia

Topics presented during the workshop included:

  • Powering Modern Agri Leaders: Analysing the leadership skills required to grow business and people performance.
  • What does the future hold? A forecast for Australian agriculture: A session with the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) providing insight into the markets, trends and issues Australian farmers need to be aware of to make good business decisions.
  • Telling your success story: Exploring the techniques to clarify individual stories, build momentum and engage an audience.
  • Building a relationship with the media: Looking at how effective leaders liaise confidently and appropriately with media; ensuring their message remains clear and stories stay on target.
  • Leadership for a sustainable industry: An opportunity for award recipients to hear from highly respected industry leaders about their insights into the type of leadership the industry needs as we face future challenges including climate change, employee-issues, industry advocacy, ag-tech and global food demands.

Additionally, winners were provided unique and exclusive opportunities to connect with industry leaders, such as:

  • A breakfast meeting with National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson and Chief Executive Officer, Tony Mahar at Hotel Kurrajong
  • A sit-down one-on-one lunch with Senator the Honourable Bridget McKenzie.

The workshop day ended with a networking opportunity where winners were able to put into practice the skills and knowledge they had gained throughout the day with key industry stakeholders.

We thank all the presenters for their involvement and generous provision of time for the 2022 award recipients.

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 since 2018 and look forward to continuing the support and development of rural leaders into the future.

The 2022 Award winners sat down for a special lunch with Senator the Hon. Bridget McKenzie, Senator for Victoria.

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.