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    Memorial Plaque - Women on Farms Gatherings, Ouyen, 1998, by Women on Farms Gathering Committee, Ouyen, 1998
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Women on Farms Gatherings (1990 - )

From
1990
Occupations
Social support organisation

Summary

The first Women on Farms Gathering was held in Warragul, Victoria, in 1990. The Gatherings have been held annually in different rural locations across the state since that time, with organisation handed over to an autonomous committee of local women each year. Women from Queensland, Tasmania and New South Wales attended the fifth gathering in Tallangatta in 1993, and the movement spread to Queensland and New South Wales in 1993, and Tasmania in 1994. Held over a weekend, the Gatherings bring together rural women to learn new skills, share stories and, especially in the beginning, to reaffirm their identity as farmers. They were a vital thread in the women in agriculture movement, providing a public collective space for women to build an alternative knowledge about their disadvantaged position in farming, and fostering a political voice.

Details

In 1989, a Women on Farms Discussion group grew out of participation in the Women On Farms skills courses at Warragul. The group began planning for the first Women on Farms Gathering, which was held in Warragul the next year. The Rural Women's Network and Women in Agriculture Project Officers in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs supported both the discussion group, and the planning of the gathering, as did representatives of the McMillan Rural Studies Centre in Warragul and PROCEED Continuing Education Centre. Storytelling is central to the Gatherings, raising the consciousness in women of their relative disadvantage and marginalisation, and affirming their identities as farmers, rather than farmers' wives. Research by early participating academics such as Ruth Liepins and Margaret Alston gave additional depth to their knowledge.

Workshops at the Gatherings developed women's practical on-farm skills, and also developed the confidence and skills needed for political roles.

Each Gathering chooses an object to symbolise the stories and experiences of rural women. In 2003 a partnership was established with Museum Victoria to preserve these artefacts - the speeches, poems, icons, songs and themes - in the Women on Farm Gatherings Heritage Collection. This collection of living history is monitored by a Heritage Group made up of past participants, and representatives from Museum Victoria, Monash University and Department for Victorian Communities.

Sources used to compile this entry: Dale-Hallett, Liza and Diffey, Rhonda, 'Motherboards and Desert Sands - Stories of Australian Rural Women', Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies , vol. 27, University of Nebraska Press/Project Muse, Lincoln, Nebraska, 2006, http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/frontiers/; Making Rural Women Visible: A "Living" History of the Victorian Women on Farms Gathering (WOFG) Community, 2008 - ; Catherine McLennan; Private Hands (contact Australian Women's Archive Project); Pini, Barbara, Panelli, Ruth and Dale-Hallett, Liza, 'The Victorian Women on Farms Gatherings: A Case Study of the Australian "Women in Agriculture" Movement', Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol. 53, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, Queensland, 2007, http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/ajph; Williams, Julie, The invisible farmer : a report on Australian farm women , Commonwealth Dept. of Primary Industries and Energy, Canberra, 1992.

Related entries

Related Women

Archival resources

Melbourne Museum

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Audrey Drechsler Papers, 1979 - 2009, MS Acc11.023; Drechsler, Audrey Louise (1933 - ), Chambers, Joy (1942 - ); National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

Private Hands (contact Australian Women's Archive Project)

  • Making Rural Women Visible: A "Living" History of the Victorian Women on Farms Gathering (WOFG) Community, 2008 - ; Catherine McLennan; Private Hands (contact Australian Women's Archive Project). Details

Digital resources

Title
Memorial Plaque - Women on Farms Gatherings, Ouyen, 1998
Type
Image
Date
1998
Creator
Women on Farms Gathering Committee, Ouyen, 1998
Control
Reg. No: HT 2503, Museum Victoria Sustainable Futures Collection

Details

Janet Butler

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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ISSN 2207-3124