National Farmers' Federation

NFF Conference spotlights female leadership at diversity graduation

Farmers, agricultural leaders and 35 program partners from across Australia have today seen 12 extraordinary women from a cross-section of professional and personal experience take their leadership journey to the next level, graduating from the National Farmers’ Federation Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program.

The graduation, coinciding with the NFF’s National Conference, showcased the growth in female leadership in agriculture and celebrated the partners’ commitment to equality.

It also heralded the announcement of the program’s inaugural Patron, Fiona Simson, who founded the initiative in 2018 after seeing the dire lack of women around agriculture’s boardroom tables and in management positions.

NFF CEO and program mentor Tony Mahar said the conference provided the platform to celebrate the graduates and all they’ve achieved to a national audience.

“In just five months, these 12 leaders put in the hard work with their mentors. From gaining executive positions, stepping up into new committee positions, and finding confidence within themselves, these women have made real impact within industry.”

Graduates will join the program’s growing alumni network, brining the total to 64 participants, many who have gone on to become changemakers and leaders in agriculture.

2023 Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program graduates

  • Amanda Moohen, Condamine QLD 
  • Bron Christensen, Theodore QLD
  • Lucy Knight, Gunning NSW
  • Dr Georgina Pengilley, Leeton NSW
  • Jaime Manning, Frenchville QLD
  • Jessica Knight, Stratford VIC
  • Kathleen Johns, Thurgoona NSW
  • Majella Nolan, Brisbane QLD
  • Meridie Jackson Dixons Creek, VIC
  • Naomi Wilson, Wagaman NT
  • Stephanie Terry Exton, TAS
  • Zarmeen Hassan, Melbourne VIC

Program partners

Some of Australian agriculture’s most influential names were also celebrated at the graduation for their latest pledges to close the gender gap.

Thirty-five government, business and representative organisations a part of the NFF’s Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program, have once again publicly pledged to make meaningful change towards gender equality.

NFF CEO Tony Mahar said these partners were changing the way they attract, retain and promote women in the workforce.

“They are steadfast in their focus to remove barriers that exist for women and people of diverse backgrounds who work in agriculture. Whether that be gender pay gaps, parental leave, removing bias in recruitment, they’re looking at how to improve inclusion.

“With the program in it’s sixth year, we’re seeing real generational change across industry and partners. We know that more young women, and culturally diverse people are entering the industry. We also know that agricultural female graduates are making more than their male counterparts.

“It’s through initiatives that our program partners are promoting, and the broader industry stepping up to close the gender gaps, that we’re able to see some of this change. It’s now our job to keep the momentum going as women progress in their careers into leadership positions.”

Program Patron

The graduation also marked outgoing NFF President and the initiative’s founder, Fiona Simson, as program Patron. In this role, Ms Simson will advise the program on future and strategic direction and also be an advocate for inclusion and diversity in agriculture.

“I feel so honoured to continue this very important work. As the program has grown, it’s important to look at ways to ensure we’re truly including and embracing not only gender diversity, but diversity in all its forms.”

Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program partners