Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 22, 2023


International Day of Rural Women

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. C.M. Scriven:

That this council—

1. Notes that 15 October marks the International Day of Rural Women;

2. Recognises the crucial role that women play in ensuring the sustainability of rural workplaces, households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing;

3. Recognises that women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas;

4. Notes that emerging female leaders in the agriculture sector are recognised each year nationally in the AgriFuture’s Rural Women’s Awards, which acknowledge and support the essential role women play in rural industries, businesses and communities;

5. Notes the achievements of 2022 South Australian AgriFuture’s Rural Women’s Award winner, Robyn Verrall of McCallum. Robyn is a director, founder and mentor of Kere to Country, an Aboriginal owned and operated food supply company, that works to ensure high-quality and affordable meat is available to First Nations communities in South Australia and the Northern Territory; and

6. Also notes the achievements of 2022 finalists Lukina Lukin from Port Lincoln and Stephanie Lunn from Jamestown.

(Continued from 20 October 2022.)

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (20:50): I rise today to speak briefly on behalf of the Greens in support of this motion. The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on 15 October 2008. Established by the United Nations General Assembly in late 2007, this day is dedicated to the recognition of 'the critical role and contribution of rural women, including Indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.'

The theme for 2022 focused on 'rural women cultivating good food for all', highlighting the crucial role that women and girls play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, and how they impact food systems around the globe. From food security for their communities, building climate resilience and strengthening economies, rural women work tirelessly to feed families all over the world.

The United Nations Women made this statement on the 2022 International Day of Rural Women:

This [day] offers us the opportunity to commit to a different way of organizing our world, to build on the vision of the Feminist Plan and on the outcomes and multistakeholder commitments of the recent United Nations Food Systems Summit, so that rural women can benefit equally from their productivity, with good food enjoyed by all.

South Australian women have played, and continue to play, a pivotal role in our achievements as a state, yet for our regional and rural women here in our state gender inequalities, including discriminatory laws and social norms, combined with the fast changing economic, technological and environmental landscape, restrict their full potential, leaving them far behind men and women in their urban counterparts.

The limited access to employment, training and services, along with small populations and the need to travel long distances greatly impact these women. As a result, workplace opportunities in regional and rural areas are typically fewer and less diverse than in urban Adelaide.

When we talk about women's inequality—gendered violence, women's economic insecurity, and a lack of representation in leadership—we know that these inequalities are exacerbated in rural, regional and remote areas. We also know that these communities face urgent crises from natural disasters, supply chain pressures, business closures and production moving overseas. These financial pressures affect employment, education, health, and family violence rates.

Governments need to pay attention to the needs of rural women and invest in them, pursuing their political and socio-economic empowerment while also supporting their full and equal participation in decision-making at all levels. This means them being taken into account in their policies when developing specific assistance programs, advisory services and designing laws to ensure that regional and rural women are accorded full and equal rights.

I am delighted that this motion allows us the opportunity to highlight the contribution of outstanding rural women, as a girl born of the Bogan Shire and a daughter and a granddaughter and a great-granddaughter and a great-great-granddaughter of rural women. The annual Rural Women's Award seeks to empower and celebrate the inclusive and courageous leadership of rural women across Australia. These women are encouraged to apply with a project, business or program that has a positive impact on rural and emerging industries, businesses, and communities. All states and the Northern Territory have the opportunity to nominate their own finalist.

In 2022, the South Australian finalist was Robyn Verrall, an inspiring woman from Keith. She was recognised for her work as a director, founder and business adviser of Kere to Country, an Aboriginal owned and operated food supply company bringing high-quality and affordable meat into First Nations communities in South Australia and the NT. Robyn's goal is to reduce food insecurity and increase food affordability in rural, regional and First Nations communities in our country.

Robyn grew up in a family of six. She notes her parents encouraged two things: community and fairness. When she was first nominated, Ms Verrall explained that 500 grams of mince can cost up to $70 in rural, regional and First Nations communities, but Kere to Country was able to offer better quality meat at a cheaper price. Robyn told the ABC in October last year:

When I didn't have money to give to the schools for all the things, my mother said, 'Well, money's not always important. You'll find if you give more of your time, that's more valuable.' If you identify a problem, try and be part of a solution.

Her achievements are truly admirable, and I look forward to watching her continue to make positive impacts for First Nations communities.

I also acknowledge the work of the other finalists, representing a broad range of industries, including food security, agriculture research and diversification of the bluefin tuna industry. I congratulate the 2022 finalists from South Australia: Lukina Lukin from Port Lincoln and Stephanie Lunn from Jamestown. Both women continue to make absolutely outstanding and ongoing contributions to their communities and non-profit work.

I look forward to continuing our celebration of rural women, leading the charge in so many sectors, deserving our admiration and our respect and all the support that this parliament can give them. With that, I commend the motion.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (20:56): I would like to thank all the members who have made contributions on this important motion. It is incredibly encouraging not only to hear about the excellent things that the various women who have been nominated in awards have achieved but also to see that acknowledgement here in this place from across or, might I even say, around the chamber.

I look forward to celebrating International Day of Rural Women again this year, and I am sure we will all join in doing that and commenting more on the outstanding achievements that are being made by women across rural and regional South Australia.

Motion carried.