West Australian Cara Peek crowned rural women’s national winner

Cara Peek, the driving force behind a Kimberley-based training organisation, has been named the AgriFutures Australia Rural Women’s Award winner for 2020.

Western Australian lawyer, entrepreneur and social innovator Cara Peek has been crowned the AgriFutures Australia Rural Women’s Award winner for 2020.

Peek was announced as the overall winner at one of seven individual awards ceremonies hosted across the country to recognise the excellence and achievements of rural women.

Announced by David Littleproud, Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, Peek won out against a field of nominees from each of the country’s seven state and territories.

Broome-based Peek – a proud Yawuru/Bunubu woman – is passionate about driving opportunities for rural and remote people to empower the Aboriginal people through Saltwater Academy, a project which celebrates the indigenous history of the Kimberly region’s pastoral industry.

Through Saltwater Academy, Peel provides emotional, economic, and cultural initiatives to the community, including training and employment opportunities in the field.

Saltwater Academy developed evidence-based programs to students who train in their own communities across disciplines such as horsemanship, equine therapy, agribusiness, and event management.

“I’ve been reminded lately that what you do is fuelled by who you are. That is purpose. Who I am has been crafted by many strong, intelligent and compassionate women,” Peek says in her acceptance speech.

“My purpose is to elevate first peoples and advocate for them. I do so through create platforms for success, to let their brilliance shine through.

“Saltwater Academy, for which I have won this amazing award, endeavours to improve social, emotional, economical and cultural wellbeing for our people in particular with a focus on rural, remote and regional communities.

“This is the embodiment of my purpose – to use my skills, my experience, networks and creativity to create access and opportunities for people in triple-R communities, particularly indigenous women and youth.”

New South Wales based nominee; Cressida Cains was announced as the runner-up to the Australia Rural Women’s Award.

Cains is a dairy farmer from the Southern Highlands who is passionate about promoting profitable and secure future for dairy farmers around the country.

She has developed an online platform support hub – Dairy Cocoon – which assists dairy farmers to develop and produce their own unique branded products through business tools, information, and education.

The digital platform is the first of its kind in Australia, helping members to facilitate industry-wide networking and support.

“The AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award has given me an incredible opportunity to make lasting, long-term, sustainable change. I strongly believe in the Australian dairy industry, and I’m excited about its future,” Cains says.

AgriFutures managing director, John Harvey, says the Australia Rural Women’s Awards recognise the contribution and excellence of women in the agricultural field across the country.

“This is Australia’s leading award in acknowledging and supporting the essential role women play in rural and emerging business, industries and communities,” Harvey says.

“The National Announcement is an important step in acknowledging the contribution of these outstanding and inspirational women.

“The virtual event will be a celebration of their hard work and commitment, and we are looking forward to showcasing their achievements with viewers from across the nation.”

“Cara’s work is a clear conduit to a future, built sustainably for rural and remote Indigenous people, by Indigenous people. She has continued to operate in the toughest of times, whilst having real impact, and has been central to driving hope and lasting change within the Kimberley. I am confident this bursary will go some way to supporting Saltwater Country in realising its full promise”.

The other nominees for the award were:

  • Rural mental health advocate, Kelly Barnes (Dunkeld, VIC)
  • Horticultural expert, Karen Brocks (Winkleigh, TAS)
  • Business woman and livestock marketer, Elisha Parker (Clermont, QLD)
  • Rural psychologist, Stephanie Schmidt (Burra, SA)
  • Marine biologist and sustainable aquaculture advocate, Amy Kirke (Darwin, NT)