Catherine Marriott’s spirit is strong. Her courage extraordinary. We #standwithMaz

The Marriott Girls.jpg

The Marriotts – a family of legends – courage personified 

As Australians across the country rally to #standwithMaz by tuning into ABCLandline today to watch Catherine Marriott on the Pardoo Station segment  I am reflecting on the  positives of Catherine’s bravery in taking a stance against inappropriate behaviour towards women by people in powerful positions.  It has highlighted the courage of women in the agriculture sector and unified the sector with a collaborative call to action from both men and women, organisations, business and the community.

I remain stunned anyone would question the timing of the complaint. As I said in a previous post I have no idea what I would do. In the first instance I would want to be 100% confident of my family support, support of friends and knowing my networks have my back. Catherine Marriott has all of those in spades.

Then I would think about self care. Like many others, I too have been bullied on Twitter. I have seen how tough it can be at a political level. I remember vividly walking into a national meeting in Melbourne of a NSW industry  group I was representing. The first thing that happened was been taken into a corner by one of the other women in the room who said I hope you wore your armour, women on committees in our industry in Victoria are only seen to be here to serve the tea and scones. She was right it was very unpleasant. I didn’t last long.

Quoting National Farmers Federation President Fiona Simson from this article Barnaby Joyce leak shocks rural women amid sexual harassment investigation it should be obvious to everyone why I believe people don’t just automatically walk into police stations

“I think some of it is not understanding what is acceptable and feeling maybe a little bit guilty about calling some of it out. But I also think there is a bit of fear around what the repercussions are going to be.”

“Am I going to be trolled if it’s on social media? Am I going to be outed in the workplace? Am I going to lose my job, am I going to be able to progress on the career path that I’m on?”

Catherine Marriott’s recent media statement reiterates this

“This complaint was made not only to address the incident against me — it was about speaking up against inappropriate behaviour by people in powerful positions,” she said.

“Suggestions to the contrary are hurtful, incorrect and the very reason why I hesitated to come forward at the time of the incident.

“Speculation on this issue by people who are unaware of the facts is impacting my right to a fair and due process. The additional stress of having to go through this publicly and with people’s judgement is the exact reason people don’t come forward.”

Self care has to be the number one priority.  Catherine’s bravery has provided an opportunity for our rural champions to come out in force saying to other courageous women we are here for you, we will support you and we will lobby to ensure that courageous women (and men) get the pastoral care they deserve as well as fair and due process  

Catherine Marriott’s spirit is strong. Her courage extraordinary. We #standwithMaz #solidarity4Catherine #strongertogether #strongwomen




Turning the anti-bullying conversation around


You can find this poster here

When we use the word anti-bullying, we are articulating what we don’t want. So in this instance I ask the question … what do we want?

The counter position to bullying is lost in the current conversations, which is the opportunity to recognise preferred behaviour.

It’s easy to be against and say no .. more difficult to be for and say yes
May be it’s time we got clear and created a turnaround in the conversation?

This above quote is an extract of a comment from reader Andrew on my post Is the Mean Mob Mentality Out Of Control.  See footnote

I am confident we will all agree that Andrew makes a very valid point

When you Google ‘Modelling Anti-Bullying Behaviour’ Google Scholar offers a plethora of articles 

Social science research tells us if we craft the message that signals preferred behaviour we get preferred behaviour.

Using an example I saw at boys school I visited in 2016. The sign in the foyer said “65% of men and boys interviewed think domestic violence occurs”

The social scientists tell us this sign models negative behaviour. The ideal sign would say “100% of men think domestic violence is wrong.”

Clearly the image at the top of the post is a great example of modelling preferred behaviour. See article here

Love other readers thoughts on how we rise to challenge that Andrew has posed


Andrew’s comment on the original blog

Where I’m coming from is contrarian to many, so please read to the end.
This is not a criticism of what’s happening in general or the posts and comments here.

In grappling with the issue we are faced with in relation to personal attacks in social and mainstream media we need to call out bullying for what it is, and those carrying out that behaviour need to be held to account.

At this time I’m reminded of Sister Teresa of Calcutta.
She was asked to attend an “anti-war” rally, where the proponents would have obviously used her presence to leverage the PR.
Sister Teresa’s response was if you can explain to me what you are for, I’ll consider it.

When we use the word anti-bullying, we are articulating what we don’t want. So in this instance I ask the question … what do we want?

Using Sister Teresa’s framework … if we are anti bullying, what are we for?

The counter position to bullying is lost in the current conversations, which is the opportunity to recognise preferred behaviour.

We know what we don’t want but, have difficulty articulating what we do want.
When training dogs, we reward positive behaviour for the obvious reason, with young children we do the same when it comes to behaviours. Or we should.

So what behaviour do we wish to recognise as it applies to social and mainstream media behaviour?
It’s easy to be against and say no .. more difficult to be for and say yes
May be it’s time we got clear and created a turnaround in the conversation?


Courage does not always roar

Courage under pressure

The end of 2013 is nigh and its time for reflection. This year I put my hand up to officially enter the world of agri-politics and as 2014 fast approaches I am seriously asking myself is this the best use of my time, energy and expertise? Very importantly is it the right thing for my emotional well-being?. As I listen and learn and process  I am constantly being reminded of the Edmund Burke quote 

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men and women do nothing.


I am also constantly buoyed by the great men and women I meet and last Monday saw me in Brisbane at the invitation of Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) at their Climate Adaptation Producer Workshop. I was quite excited to be attending this workshop because MLA has a collaborative mindset and producers from a number of industries were attending and I love these cross industry think tanks.

I also saw it as a great opportunity to grow my Bring a Friend campaign and take the dynamo that is Target 100’s Beef Young Farming Champion Bronwyn Roberts with me

The group was tasked with answering the following questions (considering all elements of the enterprise – animals, plants, people and the overall system)

1. What are the key research needs for climate for our farming systems?

2. What are the human skills and capacity needs for climate for our farming systems?

3. What do we already know about climate, and is that information (& decision support tools) sufficiently available to livestock producers?

4. What would an ideal farming system look like for your business in 2030? What resources or tools would you require to be more profitable in the future?

Now anybody who has spent even the smallest amount of time with me will know that to me agriculture in this country won’t have a viable future until we start genuinely investing in our people. See previous post here

To me it is imperative that we identify, engage, nurture and support our young people in an environment that allows each individual to build and enhance existing knowledge and skills and pivotally provides ongoing training and development to help them become more effective, and take on bigger and more significant challenges. This also requires us to establish conditions that will allow individuals to engage in the process of learning and adapting to change.

So it goes without saying that I would firmly ensconce myself at the table that was focusing on question 2.

It would not be a discussion without leadership or rather lack of rearing its ugly head and this brings me to the reason why I am finding myself emotionally drained at the end of 2013

In my role as a national dairy industry councillor I attended a number of dairy industry events last month. The hot topic behind the scenes was how was Dairy Australia taking the Horizon 2020 project forward?. No matter how you look at it this is a brilliant document – Horizon 2020

This project explored possible future scenarios for the Australian dairy industry in 2020 and described a desirable outcome.

In the words of the working group it was about ‘looking long and thinking differently’ and creating

  • the necessary farm business “fitness”
  • a positive and proactive culture;
  • (dairy) industry leadership to succeed in achieving a desired future in 2020.

The working group said

These imperatives will require industry to do a number of fundamentally new things and to address existing agendas differently compared to today.

Excitingly Horizon 2020 was to be the start of a process to

stimulate the Australian dairy industry to focus on the future – the opportunities that this future presents and what it will demand of our industry.

There were a number of young farmers on this working group who got the opportunity of a lifetime to travel the world and meet the first movers and the innovators and the champions in dairy right across the supply chain from the US to Europe

Fundamentally for these young farmers leadership growth they were promised by Dairy Australia that

“this process should create an ongoing process of insights and thought leadership to guide industry decision-making in future,

and they would be part of the team

‘to monitor progress on follow-up to this initiative”.

Now we all know there is nothing more motivating that being part of success story

Sadly for this group of young farmers the promise from the powers that be that they would continue to be part of the journey were hollow. I can tell you having been there done that  a ‘thank you very much don’t call us we will call you (and don’t hold your breath)’ outcome is pretty demoralising and I was devastated speaking to some of the young farmers and hearing their disappointment .  

Now these young farmers do have choices and they can challenge the process and I know a few very passionate people are already in their court ready to stand beside them to help them do it. I am telling this story because I want more great men and women in dairy to join this team to fight the good fight     

I am reminded of the Theodore Roosevelt quote

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood,

The man who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings;

The man who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.

So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Yes Agriculture is full of timid souls but I can assure you it is also full of leaders. Leaders who need more than token a ‘leadership alumni” they need support, ongoing training, access to bright minds and people with blue sky visions who discuss the big ideas. Sometimes they even need their hands held.

I know it can be done Art4Agriculture’s Young Farming Champions prove this to me everyday and they inspire  me to keep going and excitingly they have inspired the corporate sector to invest in them.

I will give it a couple of weeks to see if I have the strength to help drive change at Dairy Australia. I am not alone in this endeavour but more farmers need to put their hands up. I look forward to them stepping up to the challenge. Its time to look long and think differently and that starts with challenging the process