The spark came in 1993 at a rural women's gathering at Tallangatta in Victoria when Australian Women in Agriculture was formed. Four Tasmanian dairy farmers who travelled to the gathering wanted to have something similar for rural women in Tasmania. Rae Wardlaw is one of those women who stood for and organised the first Tasmanian Gathering in 1994 at Scottsdale. She says over 140 women came from around the state and from that event, Tasmanian Women in Agriculture was formed.
Ruth Paterson was employed by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry from 1994 to 2003 and was instrumental in developing the Tasmanian Women in Agriculture Program. Mrs Paterson was the first woman in Australia to chair an Agriculture Field Day Committee (Agfest in 1993 and 1994), and the recipient of the first ABC Tasmanian Rural Women of the Year Award. She says Tasmanian Women In Agriculture changed the culture by encouraging women to realise their potential and by calling for recognition and seats at decision making tables.
A vibrant, connected, relevant and socio-economically resilient community with sustainable ecosystems where Tasmanian rural women equally participate, are empowered, and have equitable access to resources.
To connect, support, celebrate, educate, empower, and promote women with a passion for agriculture to ensure a sustainable, vibrant, socially inclusive women's network who can mentor and strengthen each other in their need to achieve better outcomes for themselves, their agribusinesses, their families, and the environment.
Socio-economic and environmental empowerment of rural, regional, and remote Tasmanian
women and support for their full and equal participation in decision-making at all levels in boththe formal and informal economies.
To upskill women in production methods, new and emerging crops, and technology, as well as strengthening biodiversity and use of regenerative agriculture to improve soil health and build resilience to climate change.
Improved capacity of women entrepreneurs and smallholder farmers to access grant and
Cohesive and responsive corporate governance.
Our Strategic Plan
To read the TWiA Strategic Plan, please click here
Deb Morice - Chair
Joined TWiA – too long ago to remember, but I was on the first gathering committee at Scottsdale in 1994
Location – East Parkham
Occupation – We run a beef property - have 100 breeding Angus cows and we have an ag contracting business with our son Marcus.
How did you become involved in the Rural Industry? - Born on a dairy farm at Meander, shared dairy farming with Greig my husband for 22 years at Montana, Derby and Rushy Lagoon before we purchased Greig’s family farm here at Parkham. Worked off the farm at Ashgrove and Fonterra.
What do you love about being a member of TWIA? - . I value the friendships, learnings and connection made in my time with TWIA - it has been a big part of who I am today. The Marcus Oldham Leadership Program was the best thing I did and a turning point in my life with the decisions I made after the course. I would like to give back to the organization & agriculture some of the skills learnt in this time and support all agricultural women in all their endeavors.
Di Barr - Deputy Chair and Public Officer
Joined TWiA – joined TWiA & the executive committee in Feb 2021
Location - Kayena
Occupation/ involvement in the Rural Industry? - I am not a producer, but I have recently been Team Leader for the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program. During that time, I came to appreciate the importance of agriculture to economies, community livelihoods and societal wellbeing.
What do you love about being a member of TWIA? - TWIA supports women to network and encourages them to share knowledge and innovations, and importantly, supports women through difficult times & should continue and strengthen this role.
Jeanette Reader - Treasurer
Joined TWiA – I started with TWIA in 1985, with Quamby group.
Location – Since leaving the farm in 2020 I have moved to Youngtown. Our son and his wife have taken over our Angus cows and I still like to know how they are going.
Regional Group - I am lucky enough to be part of the Meander Valley group and love catching up with members new and old.
How did you become involved in the Rural Industry? – We started farming in 1989 at Bishopsbourne. We had a herd of Angus cows for beef breeding. We also cropped poppies, onion and Hemp seeds, fennel and dill for oil. We grew carrots, parsnips, Japanese squash and potatoes. Our son still farms at Westbury, but our farm was sold in 2020.
What do you love about being a member of TWiA? – Ensuring Rural Women are mentored and supported for any role they would like to pursue, in any way. Supporting rural women to be the best they can be.
Fiona Auton - Social Media and Publicity Officer
Joined TWiA – I joined TWIA and the executive committee in 2023
Location – Springfield, Tasmania
Regional Group – North East
Occupation – Farmer, business owner & Operations Manager in Community Services
How did you become involved in the Rural Industry?
My mothers family had a dairy farm in Dairy Plains where I spent a lot of my childhood. This fostered my love of wide open spaces and the importance of the industry to the state and the critical role women play. My husband and I met through Rural Youth Tasmania and we operate our own beef and cropping enterprise in the beautiful valley of Springfield. We also have an agricultural contracting company which services the North East of Tasmania from Gladstone to St Leonards.
What do you love about being a member of TWIA?
I see the role of TWIA as the promotion of education and opportunity for women in the industry. Agriculture has so many opportunities for engagement either directly or not so directly. My focus is to support the education and promotion of women throughout their lifetime to have rewarding and sustainable careers and livelihoods in agriculture in Tasmania.
Hannah de Bomford - Scholarships Officer
Joined TWIA - at the 2022 TWIA AGM
Location - Castra, North West Tasmania
Regional Group - North West
Occupation - I am a Rural Retail assistant, Utas Agribusiness student and work with my husband on our business, Bradford Engineering and Agriculture.
How did you become involved in the industry - I have always had a passion for agriculture, but became heavily invested in the industry when I ‘married the farmer’. We breed Poll Hereford cattle and are constantly trying to advance our regenerative and sustainable practices.
What do you love about being a member of TWIA - Networking with and learning from such a diverse range of passionate individuals who are also very proud to be a part of the agriculture industry.
Mandy Cooper - Executive Member
Joined TWiA – I joined TWIA in 2018 at the AGM and was Secretary in 2018, Vice-Chair in 2019 and Chair in 2020.
Location – Rowella, Tasmania
Regional Group – West Tamar
Occupation – My occupation is listed between being a Pharmacist and a Farmer depending on what paperwork I am completing!
How did you become involved in the Rural Industry? – I grew up on a mixed farm at Nunamara in the North East of Tasmania and left the State when I was 25. My husband Carl and I operated a weekender farm at Carabost NSW whilst both working as Pharmacists in NSW. We returned to Tasmania 7 years ago and now farm Wilmores Bluff, a 500acre property in Rowella.
What do you love about being a member of TWIA? – I appreciate the connection of rural women and the easy-going attitude to life and the ability to pick up a conversation where it was left off. TWiA mentors and fosters these relationships and gives connection.
Liese Fearman- Secretary
Joined TWiA - Sometime in 2008
Location - Upper Scamander (northeast coast Tas)
Regional Group - Break O'Day
Occupation - Farmer, retired maths & science teacher, casual tour guide, researcher (I’m a woman – we do lots of things!)
How did you become involved in the Rural Industry? -
My journey to farming was indirect. After graduating as a Science Teacher in Canada, I signed up for 2 years teaching in PNG, at Minj High School, in the beautiful Wahgi Valley. There I met Paul, an Aussie living at Kagua, SHP, who had been in PNG for many years. After much travelling back and forth on PMV’s and motorbikes, we married.
Like many migrant women, I followed my husband and his dream. Given a choice between Queensland and Tasmania, I opted for four seasons, and avoided Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen. Leaving Andrew with his doting Granny in Hamilton Vic, we hired a mini bus and went searching for our little piece of Paradise – a farm we could afford.
Upper Scamander’s winter sunshine, rolling hills, and winding river, won our hearts. Woodspen had a surprisingly low price tag, though locals later said we paid way too much! Paul’s parents sold their house for the down payment and moved to the farm to be near their only son and grandchild. We leased the land out while working in PNG to pay it off.
In 1983, we moved ‘home’ with three kids. Paul having lived and worked on farms pre-PNG, and my father’s family having been displaced from their small farm in Lithuania by WWII, could you say we had farming in our blood? I still marvel at the extent of knowledge so many multi-generational farming families have. We had no idea how much we didn’t know when we started!
We had to beg the bank for a loan, at 15% interest to buy cull ewes and raise Merino X Polwarth for fat lamb mothers. Later we planted peaches and nectarines, then cherries. We learned through experience about changing prices, disposing of sheep not worth the cost of transport, how much possums love fruit trees, and how ingenious they are in overcoming barriers.
We also learned how supportive old farmers might be to a family newly arrived having a go. Our first cattle were 10 Angus ‘culls’ from a St Marys farmer, with no family. His bill was not on paper – “Pay when you have the money”. Whenever we offered it to him, he insisted that he didn’t need it just then. Their offspring are still in our herd, and we are still on the farm.
Our journey had more to do with fate than with wisdom. When my father visited and walked the farm with us, he commented “If I had known this place existed, I would never have moved to Canada, I would have come here!” Living and farming in Tasmania is one thing we, and our family, will never regret. Farming is certainly in our blood now.
What do you love about being a member of TWIA? -
I enjoy the company of women with a wealth of farming knowledge and wonderful stories of their farming lives. My life as a young mum new to farming would have been less lonely if I had known people like them. Now that I’m a granny, my companions in TWiA inspire me. The experiences of rural women are so varied and interesting, I wish we could preserve their stories.
I love the gatherings!
TWiA has proud history, and strives to achieve admirable things for rural women. I am proud to be a part of it.
Belinda Hazell - Emeritus Chair
Joined TWiA - Too long ago, I can't remember!
Location - Sandford, Tasmania
Regional Group - Southern
Occupation - Principal Consultant at Optimum Standard
How did you become involved in the Rural Industry? - I lived on a small family farm and worked for an apple export business before living and working on our own mixed horticultural and beef enterprise in the Huon Valley from 1990.
What do you love about being a member of TWIA? - Connections with vibrant women who are passionate and proud of their roles in primary industry. I learn and gain energy from every member I meet.
Jemma Walters- Executive Member
Joined TWiA - 2023
Location - Longford, Tasmania
Regional Group - MIdlands
Occupation - I work within the Community Engagement Team at Rural Alive and Well and study Law at the University Of Tasmania.
How did you become involved in the Rural Industry? - Growing up rurally instilled a passion in me in relation to agriculture, rural and remote communities and the people who make up those communities.
What do you love about being a member of TWIA? - I love the organisation and find it so vitally important as it allows for guidance, education, networking and support for women in rural and agricultural industries. It is great to be surrounded by women with a passion for the same industry.
Our Honour Roll
Outstanding Contributor Awards
Marcus Oldham Scholarship Recipients
2012 Joan Field
2012 Ruth Paterson
2012 Jan Richardson
2012 Sheryl Rockliff
2014 Cheryl McCartie
2014 Maureen Holland
2014 Belinda Hazell
2018 Annette Reed
2018 Rosie McKinnon
2018 Bev Phelan
2021 Ella Anderson, Mandy Cooper,
Larna Pitigglio & Samantha Sullivan
2022 Rae Wardlaw, Deb Morice &
2023 Jo Tate
1997 Jane Reid
1998 Jeanette Reader & Allison Clark
1999 Heather Rogers & Katherine Bayles
2000 Jackie Langton & Holly Terry-Ware
2001 Christine Binning & Carolyn Gale
2002 Jayne Badcock & Anne French
2003 Rose Pasenen & Sally Pearce
2004 Glenda Wootton & Cheryl McCartie
2005 Carol Grey & Sally Murfet
2006 Michelle Walker, & Anne Ashbolt
2007 Rosie Mackinnon
2008 Maureen Holland & Sue Martin
2009 Jo Nichols & Carmen Eastley
2010 Janine Richardson
2011 Annette Reed & Kylie Rattray
2012 Aleta Jones
2013 Deb Morice & Steph Patterson
2014 Rhonda Spencer & Anna Terry
2015 Josie Archer & Ashley Hobbins
2016 Robyn Bergersen & Sophie Murfitt
2017 Samantha Sullivan & Emma Nightingale
2018 Shannon Barwick & Taylor Franklin-Smith
2019 Rebekah Frankcombe & Chelsea Rayner
2021 Lesley Pyecroft, Ashley Downie & Rachel Gill
2022 Hannah de Bomford & Joanne Jones
2023 Keeley Lester & Katelyn Petrie
Rural Women's Award -
TWiA Encouragement Award
Rural Women's Award -
TWiA Development Award
2009 Carolyn Nichols
2010 Odette Lennane
2011 Annette Reed
2012 Sue Martin
2013 Carol Bracken
2014 Christie McLeod
2015 Christine Mann
2016 Sally Murfet
2017 Heather Cosgriff
2019 Anita Long
2020 Louise Morris
2021 Not awarded due to Covid-19 Pandemic
2022 Sally Murfett
2023 Belle Binder
2018 Ana Pimenta
2019 Sarah Cole
2020 Robyn Eversole & Celia Leverton
2021 Not awarded due to Covid-19 Pandemic
2022 Kate Field
2023 Kitana Mansell & Tamar Cordover
Enable Leadership Program
2023 Shaelyn Rockliff & Makaylah Lester