Wheatbelt women mean business

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian

Seven dynamic women from Merredin are looking to change the future of agricultural businesses in the eastern Wheatbelt.

Agricultural Women - Wheatbelt East (AWWE) is a new networking group formed by the women.

The group plans to provide learning opportunities to equip women with skills to improve their family businesses.

Founding member Vanessa McGinniss, who farms with husband Doug north-west of Merredin, said the group was established to capture professional development opportunities that, quite often, did not make it out as far as the eastern Wheatbelt.

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She said a sundowner held in April revealed that women were very interested in networking opportunities and sharing their farming experiences.

"We had 60 women attend the launch, some travelling more than 100km to join the event," Ms McGinniss said.

"During the evening the women identified key issues that they were seeking further development or support in. These issues will be covered at future forums and networking events."

Ms McGinniss said foundation sponsorship had been received from the CBH Group Community fund and a range of workshops were planned in coming months.

"Building personal resilience is really essential, especially out here with the run of bad seasons we've had," she said.

"Increasing your knowledge about your business helps with building resilience.

"We also wanted to create learning opportunities for women who have come into the community and don't have a farming background. There are always new things to learn.

"We are all involved in our businesses in different ways, some are in the office, and some are physically in the paddock.

"AWWE gives us an opportunity to get together and talk about the businesses we run.

"There are skill sets we need to develop to better meet the challenges we face in agriculture.

"We believe that through making small changes we can make a big difference to our businesses, families and community."

The group's first workshop will be held in Merredin on June 12 and will cover topics such as grain marketing, market outlooks, marketing strategies and marketing tools.

For more information on the workshop, email olivia.grigson @live.com.au.

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