Deanna Lush (2019 winner)

Deanna Lush shares her achievements since winning the award and how she’s using the $10,000 bursary to create change in rural communities.

My project

My project is to establish a network of ‘trust in ag’ champions across South Australia.

This is a group who have the skills, knowledge and confidence to engage with people outside of our industry, and in particular those with no connection to or understanding of agriculture.

I am working with Grain Producers SA, Livestock SA and SA Dairyfarmers Association to run a series of pilot workshops and participants will form the start of the network.

What I am delivering with the $10,000 grant

I am part-way through delivery of my project but so far I have used the $10,000 Westpac Bursary to travel to the United States to do a ‘train the trainer’ course in shared values communication principles to roll out in Australia. The training is the starting point for the network to start to change the way our industry understands our community and engages with them.

What opportunities arose as a state winner of the Rural Women’s Award

There were so many opportunities. In addition to the bursary, there is a professional development component which you can use to either complete the Australian Institute of Company Directors course or another relevant training opportunity.

AgriFutures runs a week-long training session for the winners of each state which includes presentation and pitching skills and mentoring regarding your project – and this is where state winners meet and pitch their projects to the national judges. Aside from these components of the award, you will broaden your network with new contacts and be able to tell your story and raise awareness of the project or issue you have selected.

The award really provides a platform for you and your project which you can use to your advantage. Plus it is fun and all the people involved are great! You’ll make lifelong friendships with people all over Australia.

The challenges in this role

I had completed a Churchill Fellowship the year before winning the award and so had plenty of practice in presenting my findings … which also meant that I had spoken to a number of groups which would have usually been interested in the RWA winner.

The challenge was more around juggling work as a consultant with the public good aspect of presenting and speaking. It’s just something to be aware of and not a reason not to apply though!

Words of advice would you give for anyone applying for this award

Back yourself and give it a red hot go. There is no one more qualified than you to passionately pursue your issue and make the difference that you want to see.

It is such a rewarding and enjoyable opportunity which you’ll only be able to do once … so make sure you have the time and space to thoroughly commit. You never know where it might end up!

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