Above: the Chicks in the Sticks event group
Are you looking for inspiration? Do you want to celebrate the achievements of rural women? Are you looking to meet like-minded women in agriculture and the environment?
These nurturing and inspiring themes attract almost 100 women annually to Chicks in the Sticks events across western and northern Victoria. Initiated in the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority (CMA) region of Victoria in 2011, this innovative event idea spread to the North Central CMA region in 2013 and to the Goulburn Broken CMA region in 2015.
Rural women play an important role in agriculture and environmental management. However, women are still under represented in community leadership positions. Chicks in the Sticks events aim to bring together rural women to showcase their achievements, share knowledge, create new networks and build leadership capacity.
The notion of ‘women’s only’ events is nothing new, extending back to when Traditional Owners practiced ‘men only’ and ‘women only’ customs and business on Country. The Chick in the Sticks concept has been popular attracting more than 500 rural women who have attended six events.
It is essentially a field day. The events are designed by women, for women. They are bold, challenging and meaningful on a very personal level, while addressing broader agricultural and environmental issues. The events involve an outdoor meal in a picturesque location, usually a unique environmental or sustainable farming site, with inspiring presentations from local women. Guests are invited to have fun, dress up and wear gumboots.
Diverse discussion topics, not generally explored at typical farm and environment extension events, are also embraced and celebrated through the Chicks in the Sticks forum. These include mental health, suicide prevention, personal wellbeing, self-care, and nurturing a sense of place.
Past project feedback has indicated that these broader issues can be barriers to change in agricultural and natural resource management industries. Event feedback has highlighted the importance of ‘women only’ events in creating a sense of safety and allowing for challenging conversations.
The next Chicks in the Sticks event is planned for October 20, 2018, on board the MV Mary Ann, cruising the majestic Murray River at Echuca. Keep an eye on North Central and Goulburn Broken CMA websites for further details.