How Are RRR Women Celebrating Australia Day?

QRRRWN Board member Pamela Greet has been tracking down some of our QRRRWN members to find out what their hopes are for their region on Australia Day.

Queenslanders are famous for knowing how to kick back and celebrate on Australia day. In parts of our rural, regional and remote communities it could be tough to find reasons to celebrate being part of our wide, dry land. Queensland Rural Regional and Remote Women’s Network welcomes its 23rd year of connecting, networking and inspiring members to support each other to respond with resilience to the challenges they face.

Alison Mobbs, QRRRWN President and motel owner from Longreach, asserts that, “Our RRR women face the double isolations of distance and the digital desert. Families are separated because of health issues and the (un)availability of local employment. Communities and businesses are challenged. Yet our members have enormous strengths to recognise and celebrate on Australia day. They are the backbone of our communities and the insurance for the sustainability of our regions. So what are the hopes of these resilient women as we go into 2016, with kids returning to school and businesses getting back into it after the holidays?”

QRRRWN board member, Bronwyn Reid, a Central Queensland consultant and business owner says, “My hope for my region is that we can learn from what has happened to our regional economy. Our region – the Central Highlands of Queensland – has been severely impacted by the resources industry downturn. With loss of over 10,000 jobs, real estate values have plummeted and business confidence is the lowest I’ve ever seen.”

“Our regional economy was blindsided by the resources boom, and now we see collateral damage during the bust phase. We’ll always be subject to cycles – commodity prices, weather, economic etc. We need to stop treating each one as a “one off” event, and build resilience into our businesses in particular, so that they have the strength to thrive through all the inevitable ups and downs.”

A new board member, Ms Reid says, “I am very excited entering 2016 and joining QRRRWN’s Board. QRRRWN reflects my values of promoting and supporting regional communities and businesses. I will be able to bring my blend of skills and experience to further the aims of QRRRWN, and to act as a role model for young women in regional areas. Of course, I also look forward to continuing to learn from all the other fabulous QRRRWN members – we should never stop learning!

In Toowoomba, Jo Capp, a 2014 QRRRWN Strong Women Leadership awards finalist, reflects on the significance this year of Australia day for her family. “Finally, with much encouragement and support – especially from fellow QRRRWN members – my book Four Hot Chips is now in book shops in Toowoomba and available on line.” Jo says the support she received from others through participating in the Strong Women Leadership Awards encouraged and supported her to keep moving towards her goal of publishing this book about her family coping with her son’s cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Jo says there is so much Australians have to celebrate. “Recognising and celebrating that we are Australian each year, is a wonderful gift. To say we live in the “lucky country” is an understatement to say the least. We live in the most prosperous, clean, opportunity-rich, young, safe country in the world. Where would you rather be?”

“Australia Day celebrations have always been a priority for my family. This year will be a little different as my daughter is a senior and has to go to school at 1pm on Australia Day for orientations. So celebrations will be shorter. But I ask you ‘How lucky are we? Very bloody lucky!’”

QWRRRWN member Kayleen Freeman is also involved in education. A teacher from the Burnett region, Ms Freeman organized sponsorship and support in her local community last year to bring a mini-bus of young women to the QRRRWN Conference in Biloela. She tells us her hopes for the young women she will be leading and teaching in 2016 and reflects on their special challenges as young women growing up in a regional community.

“My greatest hope for our young women in rural and regional areas is a sense of belief in themselves and their dreams. If they have the confidence to see that there are possibilities this will open many doors for them, socially and economically.”

Kayleen says that young women in RRRR communities have a two-fold challenge. “For those with support at home, it is the fear of leaving their comfort zone and thinking outside their secure environment. For others it is the confidence and skills to identify someone who’ll mentor and guide them towards their vision for their future.”

As a teacher who is deeply committed to the young women she works with Ms Freeman urges them on Australia Day, “Be bold in what you believe in. If you believe you and your community can make change ‘have a go’. This means those girls need to have a vision, to develop strategies to reach the vision, to surround themselves with support networks like QRRRWN that will support them to realise their vision.”

Kayleen says teenage girls often need someone to reinforce and focus on their positives attributes. They easily lose sight of this during their teenage years. She finishes by saying that girls need to “Know that the journey will have many ups and downs but they should never lose sight of the vision, even if it gets a bit distorted along the way.”

QRRRWN President Alison Mobbs says the network recognises and responds to that need for support and encouragement through its focus on connecting, networking and inspiring its members and supporters. “In our twenty-third year, 2016, our Webinar Series will offer practical advice for women to realise their goals. Our expanding events program will enable women to connect and network with like-minded and creative women and inspirational speakers and leaders.”

Contacts: QRRRWN President – Alison Mobbs 0458 888976