Women in farming gathered to hear the latest on water issues at Blighty in November.
The Women in Water event attracted a broad demographic and groups included farmers’ wives, farmers’ daughters, women who used to work on farms and other women involved in the community.
Event organiser Hayley Pubrick said she was not expecting such a big turnout but the numbers were a clear indication that women wanted more information about water issues.
‘‘Water is a commodity now, because it’s so scarce,’’ Ms Pubrick said.
She said a lot of women missed out on the complex information and discussions about water due to other work and family commitments.
‘‘We want to understand the basics so when we delve into water politics it’s not so confronting.’’
Ms Pubrick said the negativity surrounding the NSW catchment needed to be clarified, and even in challenging times, the interest showed women still loved agriculture and rural life.
Six presentations, including four from women, covered a range of topics including how water is stored, how it is shared across the states, trading rules, environmental water management and market behaviour.
All presentations encouraged women to seek the information available from organisations’ websites and engage with industry meetings.
The final presentation focused on the importance of mental health, with farmer and representative from Riverina Bluebell, Chris Wilson, captivating the audience with an open discussion about his personal battle with depression.
‘‘Mental health is just as important as physical health,’’ Mr Wilson reminded the crowd.
After sharing the story of losing his younger brother in a farm accident when he was in his 20s, Mr Wilson talked about his struggle with depression and how it affected his life, including his productivity on the farm.
He talked about how his resilience was eroded and his struggles to cope, especially when the drought hit.
Mr Wilson encouraged the women to look after their mental health and not be afraid to talk about it with husbands, fathers, brothers and other men they know in the farming community.
‘‘Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed about — it’s just a shame to do nothing about it.’’
Riverina Bluebell, a not-for-profit group based in Wagga Wagga, is committed to improving the lives of those affected by mental illness.