Author of the Dressmaker, Rosalie Ham speaks at a RPCV lunch


Author and writer Rosalie Ham challenged the audience at the Rural Press Club of Victoria’s May lunch, to tell diverse stories about rural people and rural communities.

Ham’s novel The Dressmaker, first published in 2000, was adapted to film last year to huge success. The award winning film adaptation, produced and directed by Sue Maslin and Jocelyn Moorhouse, has taken Ham’s characters of Tilly, Teddy and Molly, in the small country town of Dungatar, to the world. Many of the characters played on some of the stereotypes about small town living. It’s these stereotypes that Ham will work to debunk in her fourth novel, that she’s currently working on. Set in a rural environment, with a focus on irrigation water, Ham’s fourth novel will feature well accomplished, sophisticated, intelligent people that are also hard working, that just happen to live in the country.

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The Weekly Times - The Dressmaker author Rosalie Ham calls for authentic rural storytelling.

AFI Director, Mick Keogh speaks at RPCV breakfast


A landmark discussion paper authored by the Australian Farm Institute says plant biosecurity RD&E that underpins Australian agriculture and its access to international markets must be prioritised and is best served by the establishment of a new research corporation. Watch or listen to the author of the Paper, AFI Director Mick Keogh, join with Tanya Pittard from Grain Producers Australia, and Tania Chapman from Voice of Horticulture to discuss the options of a plant biosecurity model that grows markets together. Recorded in Melbourne on April 20, 2016.




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Resilient Australian Awards


This year Emergency Management Victoria is once again the State Convenor for the Resilient Australia Awards, which was launched in March.

The national awards are now in their 17th year and recognise and promote initiatives that help make our communities safer, stronger and better prepared to manage natural disasters.

They are open to all Victorians, including individuals, not for profit organisations, small and large businesses, local and state government, schools, education institutions, research bodies and emergency service agencies.

The Resilient Australia Photography Award is open to individual photographers and copyright holders are eligible.

Last year, Victorian Rebecca Hosking’s photograph 'Helmet of Leadership Values' was the People’s Choice Winner (main photo). The photo depicts Anglesea CFA Captain Andy Rankin passing on the helmet of leadership to his son Elliot.

We encourage you to consider entering the Awards and have your project recognised.

The 2016 Resilient Australia Awards are now open for entries, until 9 June 2016. To apply, go online:

Melbourne Press Club Quill award winner - Mandy Squires


Congratulations to RPCV member Mandy Squires from the Geelong Advertiser for her award for Best Regional or Rural Affairs Report in any Medium.

Other finalists: Stephanie Corsetti (ABC Radio, PM); Chris McLennon (The Weekly Times); Brigid Donovan, Heather Ewart, Ron Ekkel & Tony Kuric (Backroads, ABC TV).



State Star Prize winners announced


Congratulations to all the entrants who entered the ACAJ'S Star Prize Awards, which is the umbrella organisation for state rural press clubs. Our entries were up on last years entires, and were of an incredibly high standard. The Victorian finalists will now go onto represent Victoria at a national level. The Rural Press Club of Victoria committee wish all our state winners the very best of luck for this next round.

An opportunity for Victorian journalists and photographers to showcase their talents to the world, Star Prize winners in all national categories will have the opportunity to represent their country in the international awards.

Victoria has had great success in the past – with our photographers and writers taking out several international prizes over the past few years. The work of our finalists showcases the high quality of agricultural media in our state both in writing, broadcasting and photography.

Rabobank Australian Star Prize for Rural Broadcasting was taken out by ABC Landline, Fiona Breen with the piece 'Sunken Treasure'. The judges felt Fiona's exclusive story on the harvest of speciality trees from their underwater grave in remote Tasmania marries a reporter’s determination and skill with brilliant footage and editing.     

Congratulations to Nathan Dyer from Outback Magazine whose piece 'Native Pasture Pioneer’ won the writing category. The judges were impressed with how Nathan captured the history and currency of the changing landscape. Conveying a strong sense of person and place in his writing.

Dale Webster from the Weekly Times took out the people photography category, with 'Cruel Cut'. The photograph combined technical achievement and good composition with a candid backdrop of once-prized crops being cut for hay in an attempt to stem losses from drought.

In the landscape category of the Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography, the Victorian finalist was Glenn Daniels from Bendigo Advertiser, with 'Eye on the Dry'. The result of time and effort on the photographer’s behalf, this aerial image creates a thought-provoking juxtaposition between the vast, dry paddocks and the human effort to counteract the forces of nature, the truck greatly diminished by comparison.

In the production category of the Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography, the Victorian finalist was Tammy Brown, from Colac Herald, with 'Hard Work'. The images composition, was well suited for the newspaper’s rural section front page, helping draw the reader towards a series of shearing images inside the section.

Finally, in the new category Food Security, Melissa Marino from Coretext was the Victorian finalist with 'How Paddock Science Solved a Soil Puzzle'. Melissa’s story on water-repellent soils is a detailed reflection on the way no-till broadacre cropping systems are changing the way Australians farm. The heart of the story addresses the complexities of translating laboratory findings, to what’s happening in paddocks.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy


Listen to Opposition Matthew Guy, address the Rural Press Club of Victoria at a luncheon held Thursday, February 18, 2016.


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Walkley Award winner Emma Field


The Rural Press Club of Victoria congratulates The Weekly Times journalist Emma Field for her Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism.

The Rural Press Club of Victoria congratulates The Weekly Times journalist Emma Field for her Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism.

Ms Field, an RPCV member, won the the coverage of community and regional affairs Walkley for her series of news stories on the exploitation of foreign workers in agriculture and food processing.

The Walkley judges said she “dug into issues close to the hearts and pockets of significant interests in the communities she is assigned to cover”.

“Her work should be seen in the light of actions by the federal government and Fair Work Ombudsman to tackle visa fraud and actions by dodgy labour hire companies,” the judges concluded.

Ms Field received her award as part of the 60th annual Walkley Awards ceremony held on Thursday night in Melbourne.

RPCV president Rex Martinich said Ms Field’s award reinforced the need for quality, in-depth reporting on rural issues.

“In a year that has seen a number of compelling news stories about the abuse of foreign workers, Ms Field was well ahead of the curve,” Mr Martinich said.

“It is not easy to uncover this kind of behavior in close-knit communities and industries, and it takes courage to publish the stories despite the knowledge that you will not always be thanked for doing so.

“I hope that Ms Field’s Walkley Award serves as encouragement to all RPCV journalist members to continue bringing rural and regional issues to light,” Mr Martinich concluded

The Rural Press Club of Victoria congratulates The Weekly Times journalist Emma Field for her Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism.

Ms Field was previously awarded Journalist of the Year at the RPCV’s own Journalism and Photography Annual Awards in 2014 and received two commendations this year.

BCG Main Field Day at Berriwillock


 Article courtesy of Stock & Land, Tyson Cattle

BCG field day hailed for quality speaker line up

THE BCG Main Field Day at Berriwillock last Wednesday has been declared one of its best.

Attracting a crowd of close to 500, the event delivered on its promise to educate, entertain and inform.  Farmers from as far away as the Riverina, Central Victoria and the South Australia joined hundreds from the Wimmera and allee who took the opportunity to meet industry experts, hear from top public speakers and witness first-hand research in their region.

Preceding the official opening, the Wimmera branch of the Rural Press Club hosted a panel discussion focusing on the representation of agriculture in the media.

The panel, which comprised ABC broadcast journalist Kirsten Veness, Stock & Land editor Tyson Cattle, Rupanyup farmer Andrew Weidemann and Advertiser Kate Magee (Aubrey and Areegra) discussed and debated how changes in media consumption and delivery were being negotiated, and the challenges and opportunities these changes presented.

All agreed that it was important to present agriculture as a modern industry, particularly as consumers were increasingly looking for information about where their food comes from.

"Let's tell the modern, positive story about farmers," said Mr Weidemann.

"If we, as farmers, are negative, then that's the result."

The Main Field Day was officially declared open to a capacity-filled marquee by BCG Chairman Caroline Welsh after an enlightening season overview provided by site hosts Garry Summerhayes and John Renney.

The trial tours were popular with a high level of interest in research investigating risk management, seed treatments, micronutrients, liquid fertiliser options, grazing cereal crops, oat varieties, early sowing, row spacings, inoculant use on beans and barley and canola varieties.

Morning presentations on strategic grain marketing and site specific weed management were also well received.

After lunch a capacity crowd again filled the marquee to hear Nandaly farm consultant Matt Elliott present information on the range of seeding systems now available and how each might fit into a particular farming system.

The machinery focus continued with CTF Solutions consultant Wayne Chapman and Swan Hill farmer Ross Watson going through the process of implementing a controlled traffic farming system.

A highlight was the presentation by keynote speaker Dennis Holberg.  Founder of Lessons Learnt Consulting, with a special interest in building resilience, Mr Holberg engaged the audience with humour while delivering a serious message.  

"You can't look after your businesses if you don't look after yourselves," he said. 

In the face of statistics that show that 20 per cent of Australians experience depression at some time and with suicide the leading cause of death for people between 15-44 years (particularly males), Mr Holberg said resilience, the ability to bounce forwarded thrive through change and challenge, was never more important.

These were important messages, particularly as many of the farmers in the room were justifably concerned about how this growing season may end.

While most are remaining optimistic, evidenced by the up-beet mood during the day, Bureau of Meterology forecaster Eun-Pa Lim and DEDJTR seasonal risk analyst Dale Grey reported that "most" forecasting models were indicating an average to dry finish.

For details, or to become a member, phone BCG on (03) 5492 2787. 




Markus Rediger, President of the International Federation of Agicultural Journalists


Agriculture Out There – an international perspective

The agriculture sector must actively promote itself in the community or risk being overshadowed by vested interest groups with their own very different agendas.

This is the view of a leading rural communicator, Markus Rediger, who is responsible for positioning agriculture in his native Switzerland.

He will speak at a Rural Press Club of Victoria breakfast in Melbourne on Tuesday, September 29, prior to attending an international agricultural journalist conference in Cairns.

The Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists is presenting the speaking tour in partnership with the Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations.

“When it comes to promoting positive images and messages about agriculture you can’t afford not to do it,” says Mr Rediger who also has a global role as President of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists.

Mr Rediger is Editor and Managing Director of the independent Agricultural Information Centre in Berne which has an annual operating budget of about five million Swiss Francs. It enjoys widespread backing from government, farmer groups, corporates and agribusiness.

He says the centre was formed in 1937 when Swiss farmers became disillusioned with how their sector was publically perceived and decided to pursue a path of advocacy through the media.

It has become a one-stop-shop for journalists seeking information on any aspect of Swiss agriculture, working to ensure a steady flow of news to the community.

Electronic and print news articles and visual content is generated as well as resources for teachers. Statistical and contact databases are maintained for media, operating across five languages. The centre is increasingly using social media to engage directly with the community.

The regular flow of information has had a positive impact on Swiss agriculture.

“There is so much to communicate about agriculture and food to the public. The public wants to know about agriculture because everyone eats and drinks every day,” he says.

Mr Rediger has been writing articles since the 1980s. He studied agricultural communications with the University of Illinois and completed a Masters at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich linking tourism and agriculture.

He was a farm magazine editor and a teacher at a Swiss agricultural college before moving to his current role.

“The role of agricultural journalism is important as society becomes increasingly urbanised with few people having any direct contact with the land.”

“We help build bridges of knowledge and understanding,” he says.

International agricultural journalists and their Australian colleagues will gather in Cairns from October 8 to 11 to experience tropical agriculture before travelling via Sydney to Hamilton in New Zealand for the 2015 IFAJ World Congress. 

Press Club talks farming at BCG Main Field Day


How agriculture is presented in the media will be discussed and debated by media professionals and farm families when the Rural Press Club of Victoria meets at the BCG Main Field Day at Berriwillock on September 9.

Over breakfast, a panel comprising Stock and Land editor Tyson Cattle, ABC TV and radio journalist Kirsten Veness, Wimmera-based advertiser Kate Magee (Aubrey and Areegra) and Rupanyup grain grower Andrew Weidemann, will talk about how agriculture is presented in the media and how this influences the way urban audiences perceive food producers.

The panel session, initiated by the Wimmera branch of the Rural Press Club of Victoria , will be hosted by BCG CEO Chris Sounness.

“The idea behind this undertaking is to bridge the perceived disconnect between agriculture and the media,” he said.
“Farmers often lament that the media seems to only report negative stories about their industry. The media, on the other-hand, cite a reluctance from farmers to share their successes.
“It will be interesting to hear both sides of the story.”

Wimmera press club spokesman and ABC radio presenter Daniel Glover said the event would provide an opportunity for those in attendance to hear how the media works and how recent changes, such as the downsizing of print media staff and the rise of electronic media, was impacting news organisations.

“It will also be a great chance for those working in the media to hear from farmers and to improve their understanding of agriculture and the issues they face,” he said.

Along with representatives from news organisations, joining the discussion will be advertiser Kate Magee who, with business partner Karen Inkster, has established the Wallup-based agency Aubrey and Areegra after a decade working for top Melbourne-based firms.

Ms Magee said advertising played a big part in shaping how farmers were perceived by urban audiences and commonly, advertisers relied on stereotypes.

“Aubrey and Areegra was established specifically to service the agricultural industry,” she said.

“We understand farming, because that’s our ‘other job - it’s our life.”

Farmer Andrew Weidemann, who as the ‘face of Crown Larger’ and chairman of Grain Producers Australia, has experienced how the media works first-hand, will also join the conversation sharing his experiences from both sides of the farm gate.

“This is an important conversation to have and I am looking forward to being a part of it,” he said.

All are welcome to attend and take part in this discussion at the 2015 BCG Main Field Day at Berriwillock (Berriwillock-Springfield Road) on September 9. Breakfast will be available from 8am with the discussion to commence at 8.15am.

Entry to the Main Field Day is free for BCG members and $50 for non-members. For details visit: 

2015 Young Journalist Forum


Bruce Guthrie is the editorial director for news website The New Daily. 

Guthrie began his news media career in 1972 as a copy boy at the Herald newspaper. He spent the first half of his career reporting, eventually becoming a foreign correspondent for the Herald & Weekly Times. Since then he has worked as the editor of The Sunday Age, The Age, The Herald Sun, Who Weekly, The Weekend Australian Magazine, and a senior editor at People Magazine in New York.

Guthrie’s memoir, Man Bites Murdoch, was published to wide acclaim in 2010. In November 2013, after stints as a Fairfax columnist and ABC broadcaster, he launched The New Daily.

Josie Taylor is the acting consumer affairs reporter for the ABC News National Reporting Team.

Taylor hosted the 7.30 Victoria program from 2011 to 2014, bringing many rural and region stories to a wider TV audience.

She was Victorian state political reporter for ABC TV from 2008 to 2010 and has also reported for 730, Lateline, AM, PM and The World Today, and was the associate producer for Insiders with Barrie Cassidy.

Andrew Lund is the State Political Reporter for Nine News in Melbourne.

Lund got his start as a reporter with Seven Local News on the Sunshine Coast in 2002, before working Mackay and Cairns.

After transferring to Melbourne in 2007, he produced the Walkley-award winning coverage of the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.

He moved to Channel Nine in 2011 and currently covers Victorian politics, transport and general news.



WoolPoll 2015 launch with AWI CEO Stuart McCullough and WoolPoll Chair Will Roberts

Woolgrowers will be asked in September how much they want to invest in their industry’s research and development. Australian Wool Innovation CEO Stuart McCullough launched WoolPoll 2015 – the voting process that lets growers decide the levy rate that will fund industry R&D and marketing. WoolPoll 2015 Panel chairman and Queensland woolgrower Will Roberts spoke about the grower-driven process.