Victoria’s Rural Women’s Network – a Partnership Priority brought to life27/02/2018
“Everyone is very excited it’s back, they want to be involved,” explains Jasmine Glover, co-ordinator of the newly re-established Victorian Rural Women’s Network.
The Network – which was active from the mid 1980s – provided, over almost three decades, support and networking opportunities for countless women living in rural and regional areas of the state. But, some years ago, the Network was disbanded.
In 2016, the Central Highlands Regional Partnership – having heard from the local community and from women across the state – made connecting with, and empowering, rural women one of its top priorities. The following May, the Victorian Government responded to this priority, refinancing the Network to the tune of $1.7 million.
Now, almost a year on, the Network is once again finding its feet. A reference group of rural women – who will provide direction for the Network – is in the process of being appointed, and more than 800 rural women have signed up for the e-newsletter.
The reinvigorated Network, explains Ms Glover, who lives in Trentham in regional Victoria and comes from a family of NSW farmers, is all about information sharing, providing networking opportunities and connecting rural women, and offering mentoring and leadership possibilities.
“Women in rural areas, particularly on farms, can be really isolated, even invisible,” she explains. “The Rural Women’s Network is about bringing rural women into an area where they can connect.”
Gone is the print magazine of the old Rural Women’s Network, replaced by a website and an e-newsletter. “We are trying to capture a younger, as well as the more traditional, audience,” explains Ms Glover, who adds that there are already some strong rural women’s groups in the state. “We want to make sure women in rural areas know about these established networks; but we’re also looking for where the gaps are, the physical locations where women are not networking at the moment, and to see what we can do there.”
She’s excited by the level of interest among women of all ages to be on the reference group. “We had applications from those who had previously been involved, who are very active in this space, but also from a younger cohort, and it’s quite a geographic spread.”
The Network is open to all women living in rural and regional Victoria. For more information and to subscribe to the newsletter, go to extensionaus.com.au/VRWNetwork/ or contact Jasmine Glover via VRWNetwork@ecodev.vic.gov.au
The Central Highlands Regional Partnership (CHRP) was key in pushing this initiative.
Jen Ganske, Deputy Chair of the CHRP, a local business professional, mother and CFA volunteer, explains, “As a professional living, working and raising a family in the region, it is clear to me that the re-establishment of the Rural Women's Network will help to engage and activate one of the region’s greatest untapped resources - Rural Women.
“Engaging rural women is an important first step to understanding the needs of our communities, and will inform Government on activities required to support our families and help the region to thrive.
“I'm proud that the Central Highlands Regional Partnership, on behalf of the region, was able to deliver that message to Government and I'm delighted that Government listened and acted to re-establish the Rural Women's Network for the benefit of the entire State. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Victorian RWN establishes connections with local communities and existing groups to harness the wisdom that exists within our region and across the State in 2018.”