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Rural women’s program to inspire innovative thinking

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July 22, 2017

(Back, from left) Jo Hearn from Backroads Trail, Karen Wilson from Yarkuwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre, Michael Renehan from Murray Irrigation, Scott Ison from Murray Local Lands Services, Ben Chartres rom Peppin Planners, Tony Kew from Deniliquin Rotary, Lachlan Bull from Taurus Farming and Erika Heffer and Graeme Kruger from Ricegrowers Association of Australia

A new community led women’s program teaching skills in innovative thinking has been launched.

Its aim is to solve the pressing issues facing regional areas.

To launch the program, a group of passionate community members met to establish the top issues facing communities across the Murray region. The issues they identified will form the cornerstone of the upcoming program.

The program is called Think Big Rural Women. It is facilitated by Big Sky Ideas in partnership with Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA).

Think Big Rural Women, starting in August, will bring together 50 women in the Murray region three times during a 12-week period.

They will be taught practical skills in team elevation, problem-solving/innovation and idea development. At the same time, it aims to solve problems for the region.

Hayley Purbrick, founder and organiser of the program, said it is built around the concept of ‘‘challenge driven innovation’’, which is a different way to approach economic development across many regional communities.

‘‘Challenge driven innovation is based on identifying the right problem through collaboration before looking for any solutions,’’ she said.

‘‘Traditionally we focus on enterprise as being the only solution to our problems and the broader community sits outside of this conversation.

‘‘This is a new approach bringing the whole community into the conversation.’’

The program’s launch earlier this month was led by RGA executive director Graeme Kruger who gave an insight into the challenges being faced by local high schools, volunteer agencies and businesses.

Participants had the opportunity to hear from local council representatives and respected research bodies — like the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal, Regional Australia Institute and Regional Development Australia — before contributing their own ideas.

‘‘Surprisingly the single problem identified from the group was the communities of the Murray region are not ‘well’,’’ Ms Purbrick said.

‘‘Well-being was described by a researcher, Marshall, in 2005 as ‘a state of being where all members of a community have economic security; are respected, valued and have personal worth; feel connected to those around them; are able to access necessary resources; and are able to participate in the decision-making process affecting them’.

‘‘The community does not feel like there is a high state of well-being, so we have some work to do. Over the course of the day the group identified 20 challenges which, if overcome, would solve the problem of well-being.’’

These challenges will now be taken to the community to rank in order of their priority to determine the top nine which will become the cornerstone of the 12-week program.

Registrations for the program are now open for women aged 17 and above. For more information, contact Ms Purbrick on 0408129782 or [email protected]

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