Broome livestock vet leads the way

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Broome livestock veterinarian Tracy Sullivan took part in the National Farmers Federation's diversity in agricultural leadership program.
Camera IconBroome livestock veterinarian Tracy Sullivan took part in the National Farmers Federation's diversity in agricultural leadership program. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr

Broome livestock veterinarian Tracy Sullivan is flying the flag for WA as one of an exclusive group of females taking part in a trailblazing leadership program aimed at doubling the number of women in agriculture’s leadership ranks.

Dr Sullivan was one of a 12-strong cohort of female farmers from across the country selected to take part in National Farmers Federation’s fourth annual Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program.

Dr Sullivan and her peers this week descended on Canberra for a two-day retreat to meet the other participants, share their leadership goals and meet their assigned mentors.

The trip heralded the start of the three-month leadership program set to wrap up in September.

While in Canberra, the group heard from inspiring speakers, completed a leadership and mentoring workshop, and embarked on a series of meetings with ministers and members of Parliament at Parliament House, hosted by Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.

Originally from Perth, Dr Sullivan moved to Broome in 2018 for a lifestyle change and to enjoy the warmer climes of the Kimberley.

She established her own bull semen analysis business — Australian Veterinary Semen Morphology — more than a decade ago.

While she calls the Kimberley home, Dr Sullivan also owns a mixed cattle and grain operation in Queensland and works as a live animal export veterinary officer, travelling to Indonesia and Vietnam on live export ships exiting Broome Port.

Dr Sullivan was elected president of the Australian Cattle Veterinarians Group in May and was looking to develop her leadership skills. She is also on the Cattle Council of Australia’s policy council.

“I am really looking to develop my leadership skills, I have a fantastic mentor,” she said.

“I want to develop the skill sets to be a leader and to do the job properly, how to focus, value your time, public speaking, and how to present yourself. They are great skills to develop and work on.

“Agriculture is so diverse and there was some really inspiring women in the mix.”

The inaugural cohort includes 12 industry professionals from a diverse cross-section of agriculture, including station management, animal science, international trade and indigenous agriculture.

New South Wales has the most participants, including Lucy Straughton, Janice Liu, Anna Harrison and Brei Montgomery, followed by Victoria with Prue Cook, Latarnie McDonald, and Miffy Guilbert.

Agriculture is so diverse and there was some really inspiring women in the mix.

Tracy Sullivan

Two participants Gillian Fennell and Anna Hooper hail from South Australia, while Sally Murfect is representing Tasmania and Mary Vaughn the Northern Territory.

National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson said the program resonated with women across Australia, who recognised the success of agriculture had “hinged on men and women working together on-farm”.

She said the program aimed to provide a pathway for women to transcend to leadership positions.

The program has been supported by more than a dozen businesses and industry partners, which have publicly pledged to make meaningful change towards gender diversity and to report on the steps taken towards these goals.

Targets and plans include introducing designated breastfeeding rooms, providing more flexible work arrangements, encouraging men to take parental leave and instigating gender quotas at board and senior leadership levels.

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