Kim Chance

Kim Chance

Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry; the Mid West and Wheatbelt; Great Southern

    Loose Leaf Lettuce produces Rural Woman of the Year

    10/02/2005 4:42 PM

    A lettuce farmer from Gingin has been judged this year’s RIRDC Rural Woman of the Year.

    Maureen Dobra won the prestigious award for her work in the growth market of gourmet lettuce, provided cut and cleaned to the restaurant trade.

    The Loose Leaf Lettuce Company is now recognised as one of Western Australia’s leading growers and suppliers of salads.

    Agriculture Minister Kim Chance presented the award last night on behalf of the Rural Industries Research Development Commission (RIRDC).

    “The Loose Leaf Lettuce Company was started in 1996 by Maureen’s daughters, Deanne and Simone,” Mr Chance said.

    “Two years later they decided to travel and passed the business on to Mum, who has since transformed it from a labour intensive, hand-prepared product to a thriving modern business.

    “Through the adaptation of technology and use of highly effective marketing, the company blossomed and today employs 30 local people, as well as up to 10 visiting backpackers

    “It targets caf�, hotel and restaurant businesses and has enjoyed a yearly increase of over 30 per cent under Maureen’s stewardship.”

    The Minister said one of the factors in Maureen’s success had been her commitment to total quality management practices and staff engagement.

    “Maureen allows her staff to have daily input into the business management and procedures and rewards employees who have made some contribution to their work,” he said.

    Deborah Oberon of Denmark, who has developed an organic skin care business, was runner-up at this year’s awards.

    The major objective of the RIRDC’s annual award is to increase women’s capacity to contribute to agriculture and natural resource management, and to rural Australia, by providing them with the support and resources to further develop their skills and abilities.

    The winner receives a bursary of $15,000 to improve leadership, management and business skills and enhance their capacity to play a greater role in the future of their industry and rural Australia.

    The winner is also able to participate in an Australian Institute of Company Director’s course in Canberra with other rural women from throughout Australia.

    “In the past year there has been a general increase in interest by rural women in acquiring the knowledge and skills to become more involved in industry boards,” Mr Chance said.

    “The Department of Agriculture sponsored a Rural Governance Course last June, in which 45 per cent of participants were women.

    “Interest in further skill development has led to the imminent introduction of the professional network - Women on Boards - to WA.

    “Women on Boards, being launched today, will provide women with practical skills to assist them to be appointed to corporate, Government, sporting and not-for-profit boards.”

    The Department of Agriculture has supported the annual RIRDC Rural Women’s Award since 2000 through the promotion, selection and presentation of the award to the WA recipient.

    Minister's office: 9213 6700