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Rural Women Rightly Get Their Voice Back

19 May 2017

The much loved Victorian Rural Women’s Network (RWN) will be re-established on 1 July, 2017 with funding secured in the Victorian Budget 2017/18.

The Network began in 1986 to support women living in rural and often isolated areas, raising their profile and allowing them to connect and share information.

Victoria’s first female Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford made the announcement today at the annual Women in Agriculture Forum at Parliament House in front of more than 60 women from across rural and regional Victoria.

Forum participants discussed opportunities for increasing skills of the agricultural workforce and provided guidance about re-establishing the RWN.

Despite its success, the RWN was inexplicably disbanded by the former Coalition Government in 2013.

Ms Pulford said women from all over the state had asked her to re-establish the Network, particularly during the drought and dairy price shocks of recent years and that need became clearer still at the first Victorian Rural Women’s Conference last year, and was highlighted as part of Victoria’s Gender Equality Strategy.

The Andrews Labor Government will provide $1.7 million to support the initiative, enabling the Network to promote women’s economic participation, professional development, and wellbeing through information about health and education services.

The Network will also bridge the distance and disconnect for women living in isolated areas, with networking events, mentoring, an e-newsletter and social media outreach.

It will provide a one stop shop for information for rural and regional women with events, ideas, an e-newsletter and social media platforms, leadership opportunities and inspiring stories.

Through this process, the government will help improve career prospects and workforce participation and continue closing the gender gap in rural and regional areas.

The Government is committed to gender equity across its Boards. Agriculture Victoria is playing its part in achieving this, with Gender Composition as of May 2017 at 54 per cent female and 46 per cent male.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford

“Women from every walk of life and every corner of our state have told me how important this is. We listened and we’ve delivered.”

“It speaks volumes that the former Coalition Government cut this vital service. But under the Andrews Labor Government, the Rural Women’s Network is back.”

Quote attributable to Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Victoria Danielle Green

“The re-establishment of the much loved Rural Women’s Network shows that voices from outside Melbourne truly matter and there is a government that is listening.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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