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Webinar series: Adapting to a future with drought – unlocking resilience in rural Australia

Will rural communities and agriculture survive future droughts and climate change? Or can they, in fact, grow and profit from it?

In this eight-part lunch and learn webinar series, we look at what it takes to make Australian rural communities drought and climate change resilient and ready to take on the future.

Join our panels of producers, industry professionals and scientists and learn from real-life case studies across the country. Get practical solutions and find ideas to thrive not survive in times of drought.

Upcoming webinars

16 June 2022 | 12.00 pm AEDT

Cultivating sustainable leadership

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This webinar series has been part of a suite of leadership development courses held across the country. The aim of each course is to help people, businesses and communities build resilience through leadership on an individual and collective level.

But what is special about the leadership programs? And what is required of an individual and collective to sustain leadership when times get tough? 

Our learning model has helped agriculture, rural and Indigenous communities thrive for 30 years. Hear three stories of people who invest in leadership growth and find out how the ARLF methodology has supported each of them deal with change.

Past webinars

12 May 2022 | 12.00 pm AEDT

Resilience practices – practical tips to building drought resilience from the community to the farm

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How do we build resilient minds, farms and communities? We’ve asked a mental health advocate, a broadacre farmer and a rural financial counsellor to share their top three tips and tricks that you can start applying today.

Warren Davies

Warren is a farmer turned public speaker and mental health advocate.

He knows what it’s like to shut the gate on a drought-stricken farm. Troubled by a total loss of his identity, Warren shares his top three tips to rebuild yourself from what he says feels like a complete failure and ultimate test of resilience.

Kate Hayes-Thompson

Rather than experiencing severe drought, Kate knows what it’s like to be a dryland broadacre farmer in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt. A decade ago, advisers began talking about the need for more – more fertiliser, more land and more spending. But Kate didn’t believe this approach was sustainable. So her family looked to friends in the UK and began diversifying and intensifying production. Growing not with less but with what you have, is a move that hasn’t just built drought resilience into her business, but also in the local community.

Fiona Taylor

Fiona is a Rural Financial Counsellor who has helped clients in New South Wales for more than 10 years. She has a passion for helping people in the agriculture industry. Supported by an AgriFutures Acceleration grant, Fiona is currently implementing a scheme to help young farmers entering the property market.

When it comes to building financial resilience to drought, Fiona counts on three simple often overlooked steps to get started.

Max McFarlane

As an 18 year old, Max is passionate about enacting youth-driven projects and giving young people a voice. He has established the Inverell Shire Youth Council and is a Member of the New South Wales Youth Parliament. Coming from a town significantly impacted by drought, Max says it’s essential that young people are engaged with the issues impacting the broader community and part of the wider conversation.

21 April 2022 | 12.00 pm AEDT

Innovation and adaptation – How agtech solves problems on the ground

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For most of us, it’s hard to imagine a life without the help of technology. But how can technology help us be better prepared for drought and climate-related challenges? We hear from a farmer turned academic studying how data can improve crop management, a former disaster management specialist who has moved into the tech industry to help protect communities from floods, and a fifth-generation farmer who diversified into the ag-tech and finance industry as drought took its toll.

Host

Amelia Shaw is Future Farmers Network (FFN) Vice Chair along with being Policy Manager for GrainGrowers Ltd, managing the drought, agribusiness, and trade portfolios. She is also Vice President of Y Australia and Director for Y Brisbane. Amelia has significant experience in strategy development, marketing and partnerships as well as a comprehensive knowledge of the agricultural sector. Amelia is passionate about promoting young voices and ensuring young people are represented in conversations about the future of Australian agriculture.

Jonathon Medway grew up on a family farm on the Liverpool Plains in Northern NSW, attending Farrer Ag High School before completing an agricultural science degree at Charles Sturt University in the mid-80s.
After a few years in corporate farming, he returned to Charles Sturt as a Research Officer at the Farrer Centre, working with a local farmer group (FM500) comparing farming systems and demonstrating the role of objective monitoring for improved crop management.
This work evolved to include the investigation of spatial variability through remote sensing, soil surveying and yield mapping.
In 2000 he established a spatial data consultancy. Over its 19 years of operation, Jon worked on over 2500 projects across Australia and Internationally, providing services to family and corporate farms, industry, research organisations and government agencies.
As Senior Research Fellow – Spatial Agriculture, Jon is building the research capacity of the Gulbali Institute for Agriculture, Water, and Environment with projects including the Charles Sturt Digital Twin Farm and Cool Soil Initiative.

Bruce Grady is an experienced senior executive and leader across a range of industries. He is highly regarded for his collaborative approach to crisis and disaster management. Bruce has years of experience working in the public service and in leading emergency responses to natural disasters such as floods and cyclones, particularly in his home state of QLD. 

He has a keen interest in how technology is being applied in the real world to help make our lives easier, safer and more productive.

Bruce Grady is the business development manager for FloodMapp, a world-first flood modelling solution, purpose-built for flood intelligence and forecasting. Aimed at improving safety and preventing damage, FloodMapp provides highly accurate, real-time, location-specific and dynamic flood inundation and depth insights for businesses exposed to flooding.

FloodMapp combines big data analytics, automation and machine learning techniques with novel hydrology and hydraulic models to achieve large-scale, rapid flood modelling. Their proprietary technology reads in real-time and forecasted rainfall and river height data, which their models use to estimate predicted peak river heights and generate inundation mapping at scale.

Using the highest quality elevation data available, FloodMapp models the inundation extent and depth of an impending flood event up to 7 days prior with instantaneous updates to the prediction to reflect changes in the real-time data inputs.

James Walker is the founder and director of farm finance service AgriHive. A fifth-generation farmer from Longreach, Queensland, James is passionate about Australian family farms and improving financial performance through tailored initiatives and utilising his networks in industry and government.

With his wife and three children, he runs Camden Park, after managing an 80,000-acre family business in Western Queensland. 

Coupled with the extensive agribusiness training through industry courses (Grazing for profit, KLR Marketing, Sheep for Profit, Nutrition and others) James has also conducted formal training (Diploma Business – Real Estate Management, Diploma in Agribusiness, Diploma Farm Management and a Nuffield International Scholarship).

When drought hit, James focused his attention on several off-farm projects – studying a diploma of finance and marketing and developing a $32 million solar farm project on the farm. 

James also used the time during the drought to use his skills to stage summits, with the aim of attracting new ideas from outside agriculture to help solve some of the issues the industry is facing with Agrihive’s mission to ‘Tackle Crisis Points In Agriculture And Generate Actionable Ideas’.

Following these summits and initiatives James was asked to speak at Oxford on disrupting farming through innovative thinking and technology and was awarded a project to build an AG-tech financial tool for farmers incorporating production, finance, environment and weather and climate metrics. Through instruction from the Prime Minister’s office and working with the Department of Agriculture and Meat and Livestock Australia, James developed Farmecco.

17 March 2022 | 12.00 pm AEDT

Health and wellbeing – How we can support each other in rural communities

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Our general health and wellbeing is an indicator of our ability to cope in challenging times. In this webinar, we’ll hear insights from a farmer and clinical psychologist, a fitness trainer from the bush, and a community advocate and volunteer on how we can support each other to boost health and wellbeing in rural communities.

Hosted by rural health researcher Dr Caitlin Vayro.

HOST

Dr Caitlin Vayro is passionate about rural health, completing a PhD in 2019 exploring the barriers and facilitators of mental health help-seeking amongst Australian Farmers. Since then, she has worked in higher education, not-for-profit, and government sectors, as well as volunteering on the committee with health promotion and suicide prevention not-for-profit, Hope Assistance Local Tradies (HALT). Caitlin believes research should be used, so in addition to academic journal articles, she has shared her research with groups such as the Qld RFDS, and through her role as an EvokeAG Future Young Leader 2020, and within the Drought Resilience Leaders Mentoring Program to advocate for evidence-based strategies to promote health and wellbeing in agricultural communities.

Since settling with husband Steve in the North West NSW township of Mungindi, 17 years ago, Anna Harrison has been a tireless volunteer and advocate for the community. From numerous community roles to the Mungindi Jockey Club, of which she is currently President, Anna is an inspirational community member.
Reflective of Mungindi’s ‘can-do’ community values and resilience, this community spirit culminated in 2021 after the town’s main street, including vital shopfronts, were destroyed by fire. After years of droughts and floods, it was a further test to the community’s resilience, yet Anna emerged as a strong community leader, coordinating relief efforts, funding, media and boosting community morale. She helped establish and was an Executive Committee Member for the Mungindi Community Store for 12 months whilst local business recovered, ensuring the town – 120km to its closest centre – had access to basic groceries.
Professionally, Anna has dedicated her career to helping bolster rural businesses, with her engaging personality and genuine people skills helping facilitate a wide and diverse network from across regional Australia.

Joy McClymont is a grazier, wife, mother, and lifestyle fitness trainer with a difference. Joy established Off The Track Training 14 years ago, from her sheep/cattle station, west of Longreach, Queensland to provide rural Australians with an opportunity and community, to improve their physical and mental wellbeing. You won’t see shiny weights or sealed roads in her exercise area; instead, there will be miles of dirt tracks, dams, creeks, sheep, cattle, a scrap iron heap, and a very handy shed /hangar. Joy is a lifestyle fitness trainer for people just like her, who live and work in isolated areas of Australia (rural, regional and remote). Joy lives and breathes the value of physical and mental health and as a coach and trainer for the past 20 years, she also understands the struggle for rural Australians to prioritise themselves amongst the busyness of life.

Steph  Schmidt is a clinical psychologist, farmer and mum of 3 boys in South Australia. Steph and her husband own a large sheep & cropping farm in the Eastern agricultural areas of South Australia. Steph combines her psychological knowledge together with her lived experience of the challenges of farming life to provide accessible, easy-to-understand strategies to improve health and wellbeing for farmers and farming families. Steph is passionate about developing a resilient rural Australia, supporting individuals and communities not only to grow but to thrive.

24 February 2022 | 12.00 pm AEDT

Trial and error – What happens when we fail? Handling adversity for success

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Despite our best efforts, most of us will experience failure at some point in our lives. It’s part of the journey. How we handle adversity is a key component of resilience and can make an enormous difference in future outcomes.
How do we embrace mistakes as an opportunity to learn? How do you get out of your comfort zone and overcome the fear of failure? Get over a rocky start? Join us in this webinar where we will help answer these questions and learn from a panel of speakers on how they turned adversity into a success.

Hosted by the National Farmers Federation

Moderator: Kath Sullivan

Peter Thompson

Director, Soil2Soul Pty Ltd & Owner, Echo Hills Farming Co

Peter and his wife Nikki and family own two properties northeast of Roma, Echo Hills and Nugget Hills, consisting of mixed beef cattle grazing, dryland grain farming and wilderness protection. They also share their land with the APLNG Spring Gully CSG project. 

He is a farmer who is passionate about agriculture and its valuable contribution to modern society. He believes in operating as a team in conjunction with his urban counterparts for the long term financial and environmental sustainability of Australia. Peter and Nikki are co-founders of Soil2Soul a new social, structural & economic model for Agriculture. Peter is totally committed to seeing a fair and equitable integration of energy and agricultural production that first and foremost protects the land and water for future generations.

Peter has successfully concluded intensive negotiations with Origin Energy creating new paradigms for infrastructure placement, land access codes of conduct and heads of compensation. He is a member of numerous state and federal agricultural entities and has held senior positions in many. These include Kondinin Group, GRDC, Farmsafe Qld, Australian Institute of Ag Science & Technology, GGL National Policy Group, AgForce & NFF.

Caroline Rhodes

Chief Executive Officer, Primary Producers SA

Caroline has more than two decades of agribusiness experience, having held senior roles in both the public and private sector and with state and federal farmer representative bodies in Australia, including the former South Australian Farmers’ Federation and the Grains Council of Australia. She was the CEO of Grain Producers SA prior to joining PPSA, and brings skills in strategic communications, stakeholder management and regulatory affairs.

Caroline brings extensive experience in corporate governance and has served on a wide range of industry and community sector boards. Her current board appointments include the South Australian Cricket Association, Foodbank South Australia and Rural Business Support. She is a Member of the South Australian Skills Commission, and Chairs the Agribusiness, Food & Wine/Beverages Industry Skills Council.

Caroline holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from the University of Adelaide, a Master of Agribusiness from the University of Melbourne and a Diploma from the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and lives on a small rural property in the Adelaide Hills.

Olympia Yarger

Olympia Yarger is the founder of Goterra, where she leads the vision of redefining waste management with biotechnology and eco-friendly infrastructure design. Olympia is passionate about building products that allow businesses to meet a growing consumer demand for sustainable service provision and agile infrastructure capability.

Goterra was founded to solve a protein shortage problem and has since become a cutting edge infrastructure technology company, leading the industry in creating waste management ecosystems, using insects.

Through Olympia’s leadership, Goterra has planted their flag globally as the first company to deploy and commercialise a modular solution that uses robots to collaborate with insects to redefine waste management. Olympia’s love for her work and deep connection to the mission of Goterra have made the company a driving force in her life, tying it closely to her values of sustainability and tangible innovation that can actively change the world – not just talk about it.

3 February 2022 | 12.00 pm AEDT

Impacts and predictions – How agriculture can take advantage of a changing climate

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Today, climate change and variability are more than a conversation. More consumers are demanding sustainable products, new markets have long been established and farms that are not adapting are at risk of missing out.

How can farms take advantage of a changing climate and the climate change framework? What opportunities exist for farmers, consumers and the environment where climate change is more than a conversation?

We’re exploring answers to these questions by speaking to a diverse panel including:

Derek Blomfield, a young farmer who has built his business around provenance, land regeneration and consumer health.

James Kerr, who combines decades of experience with in-depth corporate knowledge to bring corporate properties back from decline to environmental and business sustainability.

Rowan Foley, the founding CEO of the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation is an experienced advocate for meeting diverse consumer demands through market innovation that benefits the environment.

Our host is Australian Agribusiness Leadership Program graduate and 2022 Nuffield Scholar Jasmine Boxsell.

Derek Blomfield is passionate about providing families with the most nutritious, chemical-free beef possible.

With his wife Kirrily, and their two sons, the family own and operate a sustainable beef business The Conscious Farmer.

The Blomfield’s conscious farming method is based on holistic grazing management and regenerative agriculture. Taking care of the fertile Liverpool Plains soils the family call home is just as important as taking care of their animals and consumers.

The family is passionate about sharing their conscious farming journey via social media.

To James Kerr, a clear vision and strategy are crucial to ensuring Australian farms can capitalise on new market opportunities and adapt to changing climates.

As Manager at Buckleboo Station, one of South Australia’s largest carbon farming projects, James is focused on reversing the decline of grasslands, building drought resilience and sustainability.

Drawing on extensive experience operating sheep and cattle properties across the country between 1980 and 2000, he recently returned to his farming roots after 12 years in the corporate world.

James shares his experience to help others plan ahead and build sustainable farm businesses in low rainfall environments.

For Rowan Foley carbon neutral or positive commodities are like free-range eggs compared to caged eggs – they meet increasing demand from diverse consumer groups. They also provide access to new markets while supporting sustainability on the farm.

Rowan is the founding CEO of the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation. He comes from the Wondunna clan of the Badtjala Peoples, Traditional Owners of Queensland’s K’gari and Hervey Bay. He was the Kimberley Land Council’s first Land Management Officer and negotiated the first Indigenous Protected Area in Western Australia and he represented Indigenous carbon farming at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Germany and the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.

Jasmine Boxsell is the Commercial Manager and R&D Manager at Consolidated Pastoral Company. CPC is an agrifood business and owns & operates a portfolio of 8 properties across northern Australia.
Jasmine manages the company’s carbon reduction projects alongside the management of the company’s R&D projects and procurement of key business inputs.

From her experience with emissions reduction projects, Jasmine has developed a keen interest in the industry, particularly the adoption of emissions reduction & sequestration projects in the Northern Pastoral industry. Jasmine is a 2022 Nuffield scholar and intends to explore this further through the Nuffield program.

26 October 2021 | 12.00 pm AEDT

Lessons learned from drought – How we can build resilience in rural communities

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Join Australian Rural Leadership Foundation Chief Executive Matt Linnegar in a discussion about lessons learned from drought. With a panel of producers from all corners of the country, we will ponder the questions ‘what have we learned from drought’, ‘what are we currently learning’ and ‘what can we still learn’.

Panelists:

Simon Wallwork

Simon oversees a 3700ha broadacre cropping and livestock operation in Corrigin, Western Australia, with his wife and three children.
Having completed an agriculture science degree, Simon also works as an agronomy consultant when not on the farm.
Simon’s long involvement in the Corrigin Farm Improvement Group has seen him host many on-farm trials and demonstrations over the years.
He was one of 30 growers who participated in the GRDC-funded Climate Champion Program between 2010 and 2014. The group shared the latest research on climate change impacts, on-farm adaptation and mitigation strategies.
In 2019, Simon teamed up with farmers and industry participants to form the AgZero 2030. A program focused on promoting a positive response to climate change from the agriculture industry.

Dr Anika Molesworth

Anika is a recognised thought-leader of agro-ecological systems resilience and international farming development. With a passion for rural communities and healthy ecosystems, she is committed to helping create sustainable and vibrant rural landscapes now and for the future. She is a Founding Director of Farmers for Climate Action – a national network of over 5,000 Australian farmers undertaking climate change action. In 2017, she presented at TEDxYouthSydney the talk “Farmers are key to a better future.” She is also the author of the book, Our Sunburnt Country. Awards include 2015 Young Farmer of the Year and 2017 Young Australian of the Year NSW Finalist.

Angus Atkinson

Angus describes himself as conservative and risk-averse. He normally runs a 360-strong Angus and Hereford herd plus replacements in Central West NSW. He sells into the grass-fed market.
When the drought began, Angus’ strategy saw him sell down and focus on caring for his breeders and feed until the drought broke.
Prior to becoming a full-time farmer, Angus completed a degree in wool and pastoral science at the University of New South Wales and worked off-farm. He is currently the Sustainable Development Committee Chair with the National Farmers Federation.

Tegan Hogan Smith

Tegan hails from the family-run Dreghorn Station near Charters Towers in North Queensland. Ten years in the beef industry, have given her a clear understanding of its opportunities and challenges. She is a founding member of ‘This is Aus Ag’ and was part of the 2018 National Farmers Federation 2030 Leaders Program. Tegan and her husband Eiren are passionate about the positive impacts a well-managed grazing business has on the environment and local communities.

18 November 2021 | 12.00 pm AEDT

Inclusion and diversity – Why there is a place for everyone in ag

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Diversity and inclusion are a top priority across the agriculture industry. Led by the National Farmers Federation’s 2030 Roadmap, agriculture aims to make agriculture an accessible career option for all. As the make-up of regional Australia continues to evolve, agriculture has an opportunity to embrace the benefits diversity provides by including individuals with valued skills, identities, and ideas. A workforce truly representative of Australia will bring new ideas, perspectives, and experiences and accelerate progress and innovation for everyone in farming.  

This panel, hosted by the National Farmers Federation, will highlight the unique experience of individuals from the agriculture sector. Each will tell their experiences in agriculture and how diversity is a strength. As the NFF and Australian agriculture gear up for National Agriculture Day, this webinar will showcase the opportunities and diversity of careers in agriculture that are on offer for everyone. Join us and choose your own #agventure.  

Panelists:

Danyel Cucinotta, Victorian Farmers Federation Vice-President

Danyel is a third-generation farmer helping to operate her family’s egg farm, onsite café and deli in Werribee South. She was elected as VFF Vice-President in late 2020 and holds both an Agriculture Diploma and Bachelor of Business. The VFF is the leading advocacy body in Victoria providing a voice for farmers and their communities. Danyel is working towards progressing Victoria’s farming future by leading a number of VFF farmer-led community support and awareness programs. Initiatives include the recently launched ‘Farmy Army’ that aims to coordinate relief and resources in times of crisis and the school-children based ‘Kids to Ag’ are key areas of her passion.

Troy Setter, Chief Executive Officer Consolidated Pastoral Company

Troy is the Chief Executive Officer of the Consolidated Pastoral Company. He is one of the top cattlemen and agribusiness leaders in the country and well-renowned for his achievements across the industry. As Chief Operating Officer for the Australian Agricultural Company, he successfully executed a 3-year strategic plan to restructure the company’s operations and diversify sales to new markets, invest in and divest assets, develop and implement the genetic improvement strategy and increase profitability and herd size. Prior to that, Troy held key management positions at Torrens Investments, North Australian Cattle Company and Killara Feedlot.

Troy began his career at Twynam Agricultural Group whilst completing a degree in Rural Science from the University of New England. Troy has completed further study including the Agribusiness program at Harvard Business School and the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course. Throughout his career Troy has been responsible for all aspects of the supply chain, from cereal and fibre cropping, grain and grass fed cattle operations, domestic and international logistics, trading and shipping through to genetic improvement, beef and cattle marketing, broad strategy development, investment and finance.


Source: pastoral.com

Jason Smith

Jason Smith runs Baromi Jersey & Illawarra Stud. With one part-time staff member, he looks after the 670 acres and 350 stud milking cows.

The fifth-generation dairy farmer is the last in his family to still be dairy farming.

His passion for and dedication to the industry has been recognised with a number of accolades of the years including top dairy apprentice and top agriculture apprentice. In 2017, he was awarded the Kondinin Group and ABC Rural Young Farmer of the Year sponsored by Case IH.

Since coming out as a gay man, Jason has been a champion for LGBTQ+ rights. He was heavily involved with the marriage equality campaign and appeared in national TB ads and an episode on The Project. He currently mentors four young LGBTI people in the agriculture industry.

Background

This webinar series is part of the Australian Government Future Drought Fund Drought Resilience Leaders Program, facilitated by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. The webinars are open to anyone interested in the topic.