Concerned about the disproportionate impact that an economic down turn can have on women’s employment in rural and regional areas, and the ability of women to be key drivers of rebuilding a local economy, the Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network (QRRRWN) has launched its own Covid-19 Crisis and Rebuilding Response in an effort to support its members.
QRRRWN President Tracey Martin said while the immediate focus of the Covid-19 impact has been on the more built-up areas of Queensland due to infection rates, the shock waves have been felt significantly throughout rural, regional and remote communities. “So many of our members are casual or contract workers who provide secondary income to the family farm, and many others are small business owners who have built their client base from the kitchen table, who are now facing uncertain financial futures” she said. “We also know that the Australian Bureau of Statistics recently estimated that women actually bring in around 75 per cent of off farm income, so the impact of Covid-19 on women in rural and regional areas is absolutely compounded by multiple factors now after years of drought and other natural disasters.
“Local businesses and off-farm income are crucial for rural, regional and remote women, their families, communities and the local and Australian economy.”
The QRRRWN Covid-19 Crisis and Rebuilding Response includes providing funded education up to $18,000 already this year to ensure members can continue with development opportunities in difficult financial and economic times, as well as offer free education sessions to further business management, business development and recovery strategies.
The not-for-profit organisation will also soon launch an 8-part webinar series in partnership with the Royal Flying Doctors Services and Sisters of the North that focuses on wellbeing and ways to respond personally and professionally to current conditions.
QRRRWN is also working on launching a business directory for QRRRWN members and other interested businesses to facilitate business networking and support of local business – and of course, one another. This is being led by grazier, Julie Mayne, QRRRWN Board Member, and lead of the Membership portfolio.
AgForce General President Georgie Somerset and past president of QRRRWN welcomed the initiatives.
“At AgForce we recognise the role of women in agriculture – critical contributors both on farm and in regional economies, and we support this initiative as it will provide direct support for these women who are a vital part of our membership,” Mrs Somerset said.
“Regional economies will be vital to our economic recovery post Covid-19, and we know agriculture will lead this and our women are often the cornerstone of our businesses.”
Goondiwindi-based small business owner Julia Spicer of Engage & Create Consulting said Covid-19 has thrown up many additional challenges for many rural and regional business women that were already attempting to stay active through drought conditions.
“We know that drought conditions are not dissimilar to Covid-19, and that the rest of the world is now understanding a sliver of running a business under incredible pressure,” she said.
“Providing the off-farm income for an agricultural family is difficult to continue doing when the world is shut down, the kids are at home needing to be educated, and everything else that comes with pandemic life.
“This is where the values of QRRRWN, to develop, connect and inspire, really come to the fore and it’s wonderful to see the Board and its member group being so proactive at this time.”
Tracey Martin said QRRRWN will follow the important work of the Office of Women in the areas of domestic violence and the safety of children during the Covid-19 crisis, as well as continue to advocate for continued and extended government support to ensure rural, regional and remote women are not forgotten in the rebuilding phase of the pandemic situation.
“We are pleased to see many initiatives through local Council and State Government aimed at recovery and jobs in rural and regional areas, but stress that solutions needs to be tailored and focused on the key role women will play, including their specific employment needs as women will both stimulate the economy through economic and volunteer activities and ensure its resilience over the long-term,” she said.
To view the QRRRWN Covid-19 Crisis and Rebuilding Response in full please visit: https://www.qrrrwn.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/QRRRWN-Covid-Response-Rebuilding-Statement-2020.pdf
QRRRWN acknowledges the generous financial support of the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal and also the State of Queensland, Department of Child Safety, Youth & Women.
Economic Development Officer - Business South Burnett
A region rich in collaborative and sophisticated businesses, fostering innovation for a prosperous South Burnett.
People in Business, People Working together, People making it better.
Business South Burnett is the Business Growth component of the Economic Development branch of Council.
Our Mission is to foster collaboration within the South Burnett Business community, stimulate the further development and capacity of South
Burnett Businesses and engage and collaborate with South Burnett Business Development Groups.
• Expose business to opportunities for learning
• Create programs supporting business development
• Deliver new information relevant to business
• Collaboration with Regional and Town based Business Development Groups
• Sharing of positive South Burnett businesses stories to increase business confidence and promote the region
• Celebrate high achieving businesses
• Provide pathways for market readiness
• Support South Burnett Directions defined projects and advocacy initiatives