NSW remote work advocate, Jo Palmer, founder of Pointer Remote Roles, has been named the 2019 AgriFutures Rural Women's Award National Winner, with Victoria's Claire Moore the National Runner Up.
Based in The Rock, near Wagga Wagga, Ms Palmer is passionate about creating employment opportunities for rural and remote Australians.
She believes location is no barrier for individuals looking to create impact, innovate and make a difference. Her project enables others to also contribute to the prosperity of rural and regional Australia.
Mother of two, Ms Palmer works with Pointer Remote Roles to provide a valuable pathway for companies, corporations and government agencies to fill positions with the best candidate for the job, regardless of where they live.
Some of their clients already working to employee rural and remote workers include the Red Meat Advisory Council.
Mrs Palmer said her job matching platform serviced mostly rural people, and connected people on the land who couldn't find remote work opportunities with rural businesses that weren't previously able to attract suitable employees.
"I had a large number of my girlfriends that had left corporate Australia, married farmers, ended up on the land and couldn't find employment in their area of training," Ms Palmer said.
"We placed an accounting firm in a small town in NSW that had been advertising for a chartered accountant for over eight months and hadn't had a single application.
"They advertised with us and we put forward three chartered accountants.
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"They engaged somebody and she started then. That was a rural candidate, for a $95,000 job and that money has gone into that town.
"Rural businesses have had to hire a jack of all trades and jam a square peg into a round hole. Remote work gives them access to the skills they need for specialist job hires."
Adding to the $10,000 already awarded to each state finalist from platinum sponsor, Westpac, Ms Palmer will receive an additional $10,000 Westpac Bursary to further progress her winning project.
She plans to use the bursary to create a portal within Pointers platform that will provide a series of resources, training and formal certifications to help alleviate road blocks that hold many rurally based professionals back from engaging with remote work.
The portal will also educate and support businesses to adopt remote employment.
"I am incredibly grateful to AgriFutures Australia and Westpac for providing not just financial assistance, but also a platform from which to champion remote work," said Ms Palmer, who was initially inspired by her own network of highly-qualified professional friends, many unable to make the most of their skills as a result of living in regional areas.
The online portal will further assist Pointer Remote Roles to connect employers and talent and in-turn reduce rural unemployment, stimulate local economies and reduce pressure on farming families looking for off-farm income and alternative revenue streams.
AgriFutures Australia Managing Director John Harvey congratulated Ms Palmer and said her ability to identify societal shifts and use these to drive opportunities for rural, regional and remote Australia demonstrates exceptional leadership.
"Jo exemplifies all that the AgriFutures Rural Womens Award represents. By connecting underutilised resources with businesses in need, her project has the potential for economic gains for Australian employers, and huge economic and social impacts in rural and regional economies, particularly during our current challenging climate," Mr Harvey said.
He also congratulated the 2019 AgriFutures Rural Womens Award National Runner Up, Victorian beekeeper Claire Moore, who takes home a $5000 Westpac bursary.
The Kyneton resident is on a mission to inspire Australian bee keepers to increase their hive numbers while also exporting Australia's healthy and clean bees to the world.
Ms Moore's project involves breeding a genetically diverse range of queen bees that are healthy and adaptable in a variety of climates to address declining bee colony numbers.
Ms Palmer and Ms Moore, and all the state winners, join an Alumni of over 300 women from a range of industries.
"The AgriFutures Rural Womens Award has provided these women with the opportunity to achieve positive change for rural and regional Australia through diverse and innovative projects relating to rural industries and communities," Mr Harvey said.
Westpac also congratulated Ms Palmer for her dedication in creating her winning project and receiving the national award.
"The award is more than the Westpac bursary; exceptional people like Jo and Claire deserve to be acknowledged nationally and celebrated for their inspiring work," said Westpac's National Manager Agribusiness, Stephen Hannan.
"To be able to showcase the innovative and personal contributions these extraordinary women are making to their sector, and communities, is even more important for the many rural and remote areas where ambition and commitment help industries thrive."
Mr Hannan also commended all the state finalists on their achievements and said he looked forward to seeing how their Westpac bursary helped them to pursue their future success.
Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, made the announcement during a black tie gala dinner at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday evening.
Both Ms Palmer and Ms Moore received their awards in front of over 500 guests including alumni, government officials, industry representatives, media and finalists family and friends.
Applications for the 2020 AgriFutures Rural Womens Award are now open and close on Thursday 31 October 2019, 11.00pm AEDT. Northern Territory entrants closes Sunday, 26 January 2020, 11.00pm AEDT.
- Full details can be found at www.agrifutures.com.au/people-leadership/rural-womens-award