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Women’s award leads to regional research

Jillian Kilby received her AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Photo: Toby Peet Jillian Kilby received her AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Photo: Toby Peet

From the wheat paddocks of Walgett to the centre of Silicon Valley, Jillian Kilby has proven her ability to adapt to new climes.

Along with optimism, selflessness and a practical attitude, they are all qualities which contributed to Ms Kilby being named as the 2018 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award winner for NSW and a national finalist.

As one of seven professionals chosen, Ms Kilby went through rigorous selection for the award which recognises the enormous contribution made by women in rural and regional Australia.

Extremely pleased with the outcome, Ms Kilby said the process of meeting and mingling with the other women was also enjoyable.

“The opportunity was there to spend time with each other and putting women on a level playing field to achieve goals.

“The award is that all four (state) finalists are put on a plane, rather than one person.”

As one of the state winners, Ms Kilby will now receive a $10,000 bursary to assist in delivery of the project of her choice.

In the next few months, she will implement a Regional Start-up Insight Study to gauge the needs of regional business owners to increase their business connectivity in the future.

“The survey will be conducted partnering with an existing survey group to take action to get into regional Australia,” she explained.

“At the moment, the delivery of services to regional Australia is fragmented and piecemeal.

“It’s about working with regional businesses and improving services.”

Ms Kilby believes that more direction is needed for channelling funding to where it’s most needed in the regions.

“The government will put money into services but we are not reaching needs and providing it back to service providers.

“There are plenty of service providers... Our goal is to enhance what exists and collaborate.

“We need to learn more about what’s happening in regional Australia but we can’t take a team out to find out how they run their business but we can find out how to serve them in situ.”

Ms Kilby also considers the awards as being a beneficial way forward for women in rural and regional areas.

“A lot of partnerships we make through rural women’s awards. Women are often underqualified and underpaid. We can’t let women come back to these communities and not have appropriate opportunities.”

The seven state and territory winners are emerging female leaders with a project or plan to positively impact rural and regional Australia. The award will enable them to boost, expand or elevate their work. Results of the Regional Start-up Insight Study will be published in November.