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1994 Glenormiston WoFG

Workshop at the 1994 Glenormiston Women on Farms Gathering

Image: Workshop at the 1994 Glenormiston Women on Farms Gathering

Source: Museum Victoria

Date: 18-20 February 1994.

Location: Victorian College of Agriculture and Horticulture, Glenormiston.

Theme: Survival, Support and Success. According to Lorraine Ermacora, Chair of the Glenormiston Organising Committee, "Survival, Support and Success epitomises the state of agriculture in this region today. Some of our land is suffering degradation, some commodities are barely surviving and others are succeeding."

Icon: Cheque Facsimile

Highlights: Over 300 women attended the 1994 Glenormiston Gathering, which had an aim to "encourage rural women to survive and succeed in agriculture in the 1990s" (Glenormiston Proceedings). The Gathering began with an official Opening Ceremony, which was "designed to be simple, dignified and to place our Gathering in the historical context first envisaged by the women of Warragul." Representatives of the past four Gatherings (1990 Warragul, 1991 Sea Lake, 1992 Numurkah and 1993 Tallangatta) carried the white silk Gathering banner in a celebration of the heritage of the Victorian Gathering community. The Glenormiston Gathering Committee followed, wearing symbols of the sector of the farming industry that they identified with. Special guests Minister for Agriculture Bill McGrath and former president of the Victorian Farmers Federation Heather Mitchell were also present at this ceremony, which "provided a few moments of reflection and a shared sense of purpose as the hopes and dreams of two years of planning were about to be fulfilled..."

The keynote speaker of the Glenormiston Gathering was Jocelynne Scutt, a Melbourne-based lawyer and author with a strong commitment to issues relating to women and the law. Providing a history of Australian women's achievements, Scutt argued that "it is time to look again at the valuable part women (alongside supportive men), have played in our development, and to appreciate women's survival, support and success in making us what we are." According to surveys that were conducted after the Glenormiston Gathering, Scutt's speech was among one of the highlights of the Gathering, with 90% of attendees rating the guest speakers as excellent.

The launch of the ABC Victorian Rural Woman of the Year Award was also a noteworthy occasion. "By creating this award", argued Lucy Broad of ABC Radio National, "we aim to achieve greater recognition of rural women and increase their exposure." The award launched during the Saturday night Gala dinner. During this dinner, the audience were also entertained by the Glenormiston Organising Committee's performance of 'Galloping Gertie Gets Her Reward.' Clad in gumboots with ribbons, bows, flowers and sequins, committee members frolicked around the stage performing a play about a fictionalised farming woman, Gertie. According to the Numurkah Gathering Proceedings, "it was a fun way to present a positive message of the amazing contribution of farming women - not just as farmer's wife - to the life of the individual farms and to their rural communities, and to the great industry of agriculture." On the Sunday morning, 100 participants had their breakfast on the crater of Mt Noorat and then took part in the ecumenical service held under the elm trees. The Gathering was then officially closed and a $1000 cheque was passed on to the organisers of the following year's Gathering - the 1995 Swan Hill Gathering.

Tours: "Farm Tour A" included a trip to a rotary dairy and a herringbone dairy, "Farm Tour B" featured a trip to a gourmet turkey farm, "Farm Tour C" visited a prime lamb and oil seed farm as well as a sheep farm and "Farm Tour D" travelled to a beef value adding farm and a highland cattle farm.

Workshops: Beef Production, Profitable Pastures, Cow Nutrition, Milk, The Dairy Industry, Getting Your Money's Worth, Buying a Horse, Fencing, Welding, Host Farms, Budget Planning, Koorie Issues, Salinity, Sustainable Agriculture, The Farm Office, Farm Computers, Are You Liable?, Yoga, Backcare, Relaxation Massage, Osteoporosis, Returning to Study, Research Group, Women Farming Alone, Who Gets the Farm?, Wool Marketing, Shed Hand Skills, Wool: Value Adding.

Reflections:

"In preparing this Gathering it was the intention of the committee to present serious information for professional farming women, to promote awareness of what we do in broader agricultural circles, and to share support and skills. We were rewarded by the participants in their gracious and happy acceptance of what we gave. This shared experience is still reverberating through Victoria, it is leading to greater recognition of, and respect for, women's contribution to agriculture." Lorraine Ermacora, Chair of the Glenormiston Organising Committee in Glenormiston Gathering Proceedings, 1994.

 "I was very touched by the Glenormiston Gathering presentation one evening on the balcony where we learnt the story of settlement of the local area. It included historical facts from families of the late 1800s and also presented the soldier settlement history. I had not realised the difficult circumstances that women of the early 50s had; no running water, bathing babies in basins etc." Joan Vetthuis reflecting on the Glenormiston Gathering, Memory Sheet Reflection, 2004.

On the "Koorie Issues" workshop: "This workshop brought to my attention the continuing barriers facing Koorie people. The support that facilitators and educators provide is aimed at improving self-esteem and re-establishing family support. I appreciate the important role the elders play in the Koorie community." Anonymous, Glenormiston Gathering Proceedings, 1994.

On the "Women Who Farm Alone" workshop: "Farming alone has a negative ring about it, of being lonely and isolated. This we are not; we are women who farm independently. We take great pride in our status, not as 'women farmers' but as 'farmers'. We shared our stories and experiences when establishing our credibility in our districts, in our specific industries within the farming community. We talked of goals reached, obstacles overcome and of our dreams of the future." Anonymous, Glenormiston Gathering Proceedings, 1994.

Songs:

1994 Glenormiston - 'Tune, Springtime it Brings on the Shearing'
1994 Glenormiston - 'The Law of the Land'

Related Stories:

History of Victorian Women on Farms Gatherings
Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Collection

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