I have always been connected to country, as a Worimi woman, encompassing connection in relationship to everything around me. I see life dimensionally, through a cultural lens and observing and working the land as a farmer.
I grew up in Newcastle and mum's mob come from generations of local dairy farmers, where I was fortunate as a child to ride horses, be involved in stock work and surrounded by cattle. I have always had dogs in my life and my passion is breeding and working kelpie dogs for low stress stock handling.
My Uncle Kempy from Merriwa, a well-known and respected old stockman, taught me his tricks on breeding and training working dogs. I held a local working dog school here in the Manning on my property at Jones Island Farm, facilitated by the accomplished Bill Scott from Victoria to build awareness and capacity in our community around the importance of low stress stock handling using dogs. Farmers travelled far and wide to attend, which additionally was a good way to promote our beautiful Manning Valley.
I wear many hats as I am a physiotherapist and work for NSW Health as a children, young people and families service manager in our local area. I'm a mother of two beautiful girls who embrace their culture and thrive on country living. I have a partner, Pat from Oxley Island, who is a local dairy farmer and he has three beautiful kids.
My passion is the land, nature, animals, health and people, building resilient and empowered families and communities, and creating a healthy and holistic lifestyle by bridging and uniting health and farming.
I am currently studying Executive Women In Leadership and believe we need more women standing together as a collective, focusing, leading and addressing current important rural issues and planning and investing in our communities future, so, just like us, our children and their children can have access to fresh grown local seasonal produce, and so the city folk and local community know where their food comes from by being exposed to and aware of the care that farmers take through sustainable and ethical farming practices in producing such high-grade food, which Australian farmers are well known for across the globe.
This is where you see the true nature of our rural women and men who are innately resilient and no matter what comes at them they wake up and show up day in and day out, keeping on, keeping on going.Em Trotter
It's important to acknowledge that our community over the years has been hit with so many natural disasters such as drought, fires and the recent floods, which people and our local businesses are still recovering from financially, emotionally, socially and physically.
COVID has been another layer added on an already vulnerable platform that our community is directly facing now - fears for health, isolation and disconnect from family and friends with necessary lockdowns, closure of businesses, shortage of housing and uncertainties with employment.
For farming, even though our grass looks greener from the floods, there is an underlying pressure that our rural community is struggling and working harder than ever to recover from the pandemic and natural disasters our farmers have endured and are still hurting through the long term ongoing impacts.
This is where you see the true nature of our rural women and men who are innately resilient and no matter what comes at them they wake up and show up day in and day out, keeping on, keeping on going.
The farmers here locally have reached out and have supported each other through resource sharing, by assisting one another with clearing and fixing fences and debris from paddocks, forming new and strengthening already existing rural network committees by applying for grants and getting additional training happening in the area. It also involves social catch-ups for debrief and supports.
COVID has hit farmers in many ways, one issue being access to employees with agricultural experience. With the shutdown of international flights there is a real shortage of labour on the farms and this adds intense pressure on an already labour-intensive enterprise.
Farming is 24/7 and farmers have limited holidays or breaks all year round. Having a shortage of labour makes it increasingly difficult to take time out to ensure a healthy work-life balance.
My heart goes out to families trapped in an apartment or a home without a backyard for lengthy periods of time during COVID lockdowns. However, on a positive note our rural children on the land are fortunate to roam about in the paddocks, getting their daily functional exercise, connecting with animals, and hours of outside play in fresh air and the sun, which is so important for development and mental health, especially living here in the stunning Manning, having access to beaches, rivers and lakes.
My heart goes out to families trapped in an apartment or a home without a backyard for lengthy periods of time during COVID lockdowns.Em Trotter
I can see why so many city folk are moving to our area for this very reason with the increased opportunities now working remotely from offices. I know for me a lot of my city friends make comment about how lucky we are to live on the land having the best of country and coastal living.
"How to build back better for rural women" does not happen with a solo approach. It takes a collective effort focusing on like-minded strength based approaches through women collaborating, building capacity, empowering, networking, resource sharing and supporting one another authentically, recognising everybody's unique gifts, skills and life experiences, focusing on important rural issues and driving change for a better future for all.
I would like to see more young people in agriculture, particularly women, who are passionate about the land, animals, enjoy the outdoors and taking up fulfilling and meaningful careers. That is something that needs to be driven for sustainability in the agriculture industry.
There needs to be more incentives and marketing around these opportunities within the schools, academic institutions and within our community. It requires government backing and focus to ensure our agricultural industry remains current and is sustained and supported through the inevitable changes that life hands out.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
- Bookmark our website
- Make sure you are signed up for our breaking and regular headlines newsletters
- Follow us on Twitter
- Follow us on Instagram
- Follow us on Google News
Did you know? Manning River Times online subscribers not only have 24/7 access to local and national news, sport, what's on and entertainment - they also have access to our print editions in digital format, with all the advertisements and classifieds at their fingertips.