Growers name first female director

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AWGA director Angela Byron.
Camera IconAWGA director Angela Byron. Credit: Australian Wool Growers Association

Canberra-based communications and policy consultant Angela Byron was appointed to the board of the Australian Wool Growers Association this month and will bring a new perspective as the organisation’s first female director.

She replaces NSW wool grower Martin Oppenheimer who has served on the AWGA board since 2004.

AWGA chief executive officer Sam Stephens said Ms Byron would bring a unique perspective to the board with her ability to connect with the Federal Government through her policy work and experience in the sheep and wool industry.

Ms Byron is co-owner of a livestock contracting business, White Dog Livestock Services, and is principal consultant and owner of Lumin8 Solutions, a management consulting firm.

Mr Stephens said he was proud to appoint Ms Byron as the first female director on the AWGA board. “AWGA is a contemporary organisation that is committed to gender equality in the wool industry,” he said.

Ms Byron said she was proud to be the first female on the AWGA board.

“Female representation is something I am passionate about,” she said.

Ms Byron said she was looking forward to bringing her previous government experience to the AWGA board to make real change.

“With my experience in policy and working for the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in agriculture productivity, I understand about government expectations,” she said. “I will work as a bridge between AWGA and the Australian Government and any other industry bodies based on my proven experience in public policy and my ability to engage.

“I am passionate about bringing attention to the rural labour and shearing shortage we are facing.

“This is a serious issue we are dealing with at the moment.”

Ms Byron said she did not agree with Australian Wool Innovation chair Jock Laurie when he said the mulesing policy debate should be left to political organisations.

“The decision to mules or not is something Australian farmers face on a daily basis,” she said.

“How is that agri-political.

“Jock sees the role of AWI as one of passing on market signals, but what signal is AWI sending to wool consuming countries about the necessary surgeries with pain relief.”

Ms Byron said she believed AWI’s governance needed change.

“AWI could work more collaboratively with some of the other research and development corporations,” she said.

She said she was looking forward to bringing her public and private sector experience to AWGA, and working with co-directors “to effect real change”.

“I really think there are debates that have been dragging and obviously mulesing is a critical one and I think that overall industry governance needs a rethink and a freshening up,” Ms Byron said.

“And I also think that the labour force shortage is a really critical issue and it personally impacts on my business on a daily basis.”

Ms Byron said there had not been the right voices in the ear of the European wool industry on animal welfare and mulesing.

“I think the voice that they have been hearing is obviously that of the animal welfare bodies and they just haven’t been getting the right messages and information,” she said.

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