“I’ll look like I’ve got tickets on myself.” “I don’t deserve it.” “I don’t have time.” “I’ll look silly.”
All these thoughts- and more- went through my mind over a number of years when I saw that nominations were open for the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award. And I didn’t apply, didn’t apply, and didn’t apply, even though I had a number of project ideas that I could have developed.
Probably the only valid reason I had for not applying was that our daughters were still very young and I wanted to keep my focus relatively close to home until they were older. But as time went on, that excuse wasn’t really an excuse….
In March 2014 I was lucky enough to attend a workshop in Adelaide hosted by South Australian Award alumni and supported by RIRDC and PIRSA for women who wanted more information about the Awards and who could potentially be interested in applying. In a friendly, supportive environment, we were able to learn about the aims of the Award, understand exactly what is involved in the application and selection process, and spend some time fleshing out potential project ideas.
This got me over the line to finally overcome the fearful, negative voice in my head and just get on and apply.
Because I have wide-ranging interests and am a sucker for a new idea, deciding on a project took me some time, but with fantastic support from the Awards’ National and State Managers, I got there.
The National and State Managers were endlessly supportive, providing insightful and useful comments on my application and helping me to flesh out what I wanted to do. The whole process felt like a project development mentorship rather than a competition application. This type of support, feedback and validation is rare and I would recommend it to anybody wanting to make a difference in regional Australia- what a treat.
As for the outcome, well, we had four finalists in SA and another fabulous woman with an excellent project won the Award, not me. In the end, the outcome was actually the least of it, even if waiting for the Minister to open the envelope and make the announcement at the Award ceremony was incredibly nerve-wracking!
I gained experience, validation and support to develop a project that I will continue to work on and that will hopefully have positive impacts on regional communities, businesses and industries in SA and beyond. I also met some inspirational women who I’m sure I’ll continue to connect with over the years, despite our geographical isolation and busy lives.
So, have you heard about the RIRDC Rural Women’s Awards? Do you want to make a contribution to regional Australia? Then I’d recommend you apply! Nominations open 1 August and close 30 October each year.