Each year a community in South Australia organises a SA Rural Women’s Gathering that brings together women from all demographics from all regions.

The concept of a rural women’s gathering was born in 1989 by a group of women in Victoria. This informal group of women was a group who called themselves a ‘Women on Farms Discussion Group’.

The first Women on Farms Gathering was held in Warragul, Victoria in 1990 and is now held annually in different locations through out the State. In 1993 the first Women of the Land Gathering was held in Orange, NSW and is now an annual event. Tasmania held their first Women in Agriculture Gathering in 1995 and is now held every two years. Gatherings are also held in Queensland and Western Australia.

No matter what the title these are all rural women’s gatherings. They tend to have a farm and an agricultural focus because that is their heritage. They are for all rural women because it takes all rural women to make rural communities work.

The inaugural South Australian Rural Women’s Gathering was held in October 1996 at Murray Bridge.

Governing Committee

MARGARET HOWIE

Chairperson

Margaret attended her first SARWG in Bordertown and in 2016 chaired the Riverland SARWG, with the help of an amazing committee. She took on the role of SARWG chairperson in 2018 and is committed to maintaining the spirit and values of the Gatherings.

Born in Renmark, Margaret has been involved in the horticultural sector all her life and currently has a property producing winegrapes and almonds. She has two amazing children and three adorable grandchildren.

CHARMAINE KIMBER

Secretary

Charmaine moved from Adelaide to Port Vincent in 2005.  She left her supervisory role at Telecom when left to raise children aged under three on her own and bought a run-down fabric shop at Fullarton where she happily assisted customers with their projects.  Fabric Fair became a roaring success.  Then, with two male partners in a civil construction company, the company grew from eight to over two hundred.  From 1997-1999, as the only female on the board of the SA Civil Contractors Federation she was involved in industrial relations and award simplification of the AWU Construction and Maintenance Award.  A volunteer and member of numerous committees over the years including the 2018 Minlaton SARWG, Charmaine is currently a committee member of Port Vincent RSL and volunteers weekly with Port Vincent Tidy Towns.

elizabeth ballinger

Treasurer

Liz, living on the family farm near Wolseley, established Teatrick Lavender Estate, growing lavender commercially. .A founding member of the Women in Business and Regional Development Group and past Chair, she was inducted into the WIB&RD Hall of Fame in 2020.  In 1999 Liz won the SA Enterprising Woman of the Year Award. A PIRSA bursary for the World Congress of Rural Women in Spain; followed by an Australian Horticulture Scholarship in Europe. Liz was an SA Rural Women’s Award finalist. As instigator for the SARWG being held in Bordertown, she hasn’t missed a Gathering since.  Liz continues to support rural enterprising women, and enjoys playing golf.

Leonie Broadbridge

Committee

I was Chair of the Strathalbyn Committee in 2019.  
We were very pleased with the Gathering we delivered, in a very tight timeframe, and those who attended had a great time.
My previous Gathering experience was Melrose in 2010 drawn by the opportunity to hear Monica McInerney speak.
I joined the Exec Committee as I am keen to see SA Rural Women’s Gatherings continue.

GLYN SCOTT

Public Officer

Glyn attended her first Gathering in 2018 and, taken by the friendship and happiness of participants, volunteered to be part of the SARWG Executive Committee.

She is founder of the Love, Hope & Gratitude Foundation which aims to put an end to domestic violence and make a difference to the lives of victims of domestic violence.  Glyn, who had a difficult upbringing and was a victim of domestic violence, speaks up for victims of domestic violence and is making a difference through her foundation.

TRACEY DEWELL

MEDIA & MARKETING

Since being in the Jamestown SARWG committee in 2014 as the website designer and marketing person, I have been actively helping committees of ongoing SARWG’s to help build online solutions for registrations and event promotion. I run a graphic design/website business from my home based office and I also publish the local newspaper – The Jamestown Journal. I am married with 2 teenage girls who keep me busy when work doesn’t.

I strongly recommend being part of an organising committee hosting a SARWG, the experience is awesome.

POLLY JOHNSON

Committee

Bio coming soon…

SUE CAWLEY

COMMITTEE

Bio coming soon…

Aims

Aims of the South Australian Rural Women’s Gathering:

  • To develop communication networks knowledge and skill through participation, experience and contact with other women.
  • To link women from rural backgrounds with members of formal or informal networks across South Australia.
  • To provide access to opportunities for self-development, self-expression and information.

Gatherings are special because they are community organised, developed, driven, owned and run. Each year a different community group organises the Gathering (not a formal/traditional group). No one organisation is responsible for the Gathering it is an opportunity for different groups, organisations and individuals to work together.

The autonomy of each organising committee gives each Gathering its unique atmosphere and flavour. Each Gathering committee works on from the previous Gathering using the information; experience and intellectual capital built up by the previous organising committee. It is from this that some of the Gathering traditions stem. They are gifts from one group to the next, to be upheld, used, acknowledged, developed or passed over depending on the organising committee’s wishes.

A Gathering offers opportunities for all rural women, whether they want agricultural information, business information, personal development or a social and recreational opportunity. The strength of a Gathering is in its diversity. A Gathering can help build bridges between women on farms and women involved in other businesses, in the works force or raising families. It can offer skills and introductory information for women who for many reasons may have been denied access to the information that they need to build strong rural communities, to be equal partners in their businesses or to establish networks.

A Gathering also offers many experiences to those involved in the organisation of the event, which are just as important as what it offers to those that the gathering is run for.

Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) supports rural women’s gatherings because they are an important avenue for getting information to a significant group of people in the rural community.

Women actively involved in primary production are often not involved in the traditional agriculture extension programs. Gatherings offer women an opportunity to meet and network with other women involved in primary production as well as other industries and businesses. Gatherings are a supportive atmosphere in which women can question, learn and network. The diversity of women, industries, sectors, lifestyles, cultures, information and workshops promotes is good business and good rural business means strong rural communities.

It is important to endeavour to utilise the talents of women as facilitators, guest speakers and MCs. In doing this we create more women role models. There will be times when the best person for the job may be a man and this is fine. Men will always be welcome at Gatherings, although the focus and marketing of Gatherings is to women.

Past SA Rural Women’s Gatherings

South Australia held its first Rural Women’s Gathering at Murray Bridge in 1996, attracting approximately 300 women from across the State.

Summary information about the past South Australian Rural Women’s Gathering can be found on the links below.

Hosting a Rural Women’s Gathering

 

Any South Australian rural community is eligible to host a Rural Women’s Gathering. The hosting group cannot be a formal organisation and is a diverse group of women from one geographic location.

If a community is interested in hosting a Gathering please: 
Download Expression of Interest to Host a Gathering (pdf)

or contact:

Margaret Howie
Chairperson
SA Rural Women’s Gathering Association
P: 0438 112 570
E: hosting@saruralwomensgathering.org.au