Catherine Jenkins a finalist for women's award

Finalist: Catherine Jenkins of South Purrumbete is a finalist for the Victorian Rural Women's Award that will be announced on March 22.
Finalist: Catherine Jenkins of South Purrumbete is a finalist for the Victorian Rural Women's Award that will be announced on March 22.

Catherine Jenkins of South Purrumbete near Cobden is among the finalists for the 2017 Victorian Rural Women’s Award.

Mrs Jenkins has been nominated as a finalist for her plan to investigate the feasibility of a national network for women working in the dairy industry.

The Victorian Rural Women’s Award, which is supported by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation’s (RIRDC), celebrates outstanding leadership and innovation in agricultural industry. It comes with a $10,000 prize for the winner to pursue her nominated project.

Mrs Jenkins, who has been working with her family in dairying for 13 years, said there were many small networks throughout Australia including in the south-west, of women working in the dairy industry.

She said there had been interest in developing a national network and she hoped to research national networks for women that had been established overseas such as in New Zealand.

She hoped to develop a model for a national women in dairy network that would focus on developing women’s on farm business skills, she said.

Another focus would be to support the fantastic role played by women in the dairy industry not only through working on farm but also while supporting their own families and their extended families, Mrs Jenkins said.

She envisaged the network could also include women working beyond the farm gate in the dairy industry.

However part of her proposed project would be to find out what women in dairy would want from a national women’s network, Mrs Jenkins said.

The overall aim of her proposed project was to determine “how we can better support women so they can be even better at what they are doing,” she said.

Mrs Jenkins, the wife of United Dairyfarmers of Victoria president Adam Jenkins, said the dairy industry already had several programs to help farmers develop their business and farming skills but the number of women undertaking them was low.

“It (the proposed national women’s network) is not about reinventing the wheel. It’s about helping women to link into programs that are there,” Mrs Jenkins said.

Mrs Jenkins will be up against three finalists for the award that will be announced at State Parliament on Wednesday, March 22.

On another matter, the state government has announced its support for the annual Women on Farms Gathering, to be held in Harrow on Friday, March 24, to celebrate the important role women play in agriculture and rural communities.