Project to open Canberra to rural women

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Barb Grey

Barb Grey is already recognised for the innovative practices behind the Mungindi farm she runs with her husband Ralph, resulting in the enterprise being placed in the top five percentile of their region’s cotton-growing benchmarking group.

Now she is exercising her enthusiasm for making a difference through a program she is establishing to empower rural women in the political process – an effort that has earned her the Queensland state RIRDC Rural Women’s Award and national runner-up.

Too often Barb says people feel disengaged because they don’t know how the process works. So she has set up a pilot program, ‘The Mechanics of Government and How to Influence Change’, which will result in 24 rural women going to Canberra in October. There they will meet government officials and engage in programs to demystify the political process and allow them to see how they can participate.

Essentially, Barb says her project, which she hopes to make an annual event, will address four avenues to effect change:

  • direct communication with a Member of Parliament or government agent; 
  • representation with a Senate committee;
  • communication through the media; or
  • tapping into government funding for programs.

If women can recognise what those avenues are and learn how to effectively access them, then outcomes for regional Australia will improve, she says.

“I firmly believe we’ve got to have a better process of engagement with government,” she says. “My workshop aims to help participants understand what the political process is, how decisions are made and where they can step in to feel they are effectively engaged in decision-making.”

Barb says her state win and national runner-up prize have not only brought a valuable bursary to help get the program off the ground, but have also opened a lot of doors to make the idea a reality.

More information: Barbara Grey, 0427 448 712,

Region North