Pastoralist's daughter who grew up near Yunta area stakes claim on award

CONTENDERS: South Australian Rural Women’s Award finalists are Alex Thomas, left, Jo Bonner and Lauren Thiel.

CONTENDERS: South Australian Rural Women’s Award finalists are Alex Thomas, left, Jo Bonner and Lauren Thiel.

A self-described “die-hard pastoralist’s daughter” has been shortlisted for a South Australian AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award.

Alex Thomas is a part-time carer for her father who received permanent injuries resulting from his life’s work in the agriculture industry.

Now based in Adelaide, she grew up at Parnaroo Station east of Yunta and she wants to prevent work-related serious injuries and fatalities in agriculture by using her skills from her personal experiences and her career as a work, health and safety consultant.

Her aim is to shift the conversation around industry safety from one of compliance to a discussion that is positive and led by industry by launching the #PlantASeedForSafety social media campaign.

By appearing at key industry forums, Alex hopes to inspire women to champion the cause.

Alex and two other women have been named as finalists for the awards, recognising their leadership qualities and commitment to regional South Australian industries, business and communities.

The other state finalists are Lauren Thiel and Jo Bonner. The winner will be announced at a presentation evening on Monday, February 19, at the Hahndorf Resort’s Three Gums Bistro and will go on to represent South Australia at the national awards in September.

The winner will receive a $10,000 bursary, provided by AgriFutures Australia, to bring to life a project or initiative that will benefit rural industries and communities and will have the opportunity to participate in leadership development workshops throughout the year.

The SA Rural Women’s Award presentation evening will complement the 2018 Thriving Women’s Conference at the Hahndorf Resort from February 19 to 20.

Sponsored by Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), the two-day conference is a networking and business development event for women in the agriculture industry.

PIRSA is also the supporting state agency for the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award in South Australia. The AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award is Australia’s leading award to acknowledge and support the essential role women play in rural businesses, industries and communities.

Jo Bonner’s burning desire is to improve the well-being of outback communities and their young people.

She is an integral part of the regional South Australian community of Marree with significant commitments as owner-operator of a local tourist park, relief teacher at Marree Aboriginal School and vice-president of the Marree Progress Association. 

Her vision is an ‘Artback Rail Trail’, a collaboration of SA artists who would create captivating artworks to attract tourism in townships alongside the Old Ghan railway line. 

Jo wants to kick-start the project in Marree, coinciding with the Camel Cup, and build on it each year until the Old Ghan art trail achieves the success of similar projects such as Victoria’s Silo Art Trail. 

Lauren Thiel, of Adelaide, was busily pursuing a career in the arts when she stumbled on a passion for accounting and finance while co-founding a dance school.

She is now an analyst for Duxton Capital Australia, a world leader in agricultural investment.

Her ambition is to organise a conference for Year 10 students so they can learn about the exciting career paths in agriculture and to role model the many opportunities to contribute to regional South Australian industries while living in the city.

She wants students to walk away from the event with the networks to plan a career in agriculture, drawing on inspiration and knowledge from impressive keynote speakers and practical workshops.