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RMSA donation to Nepal Appeal brings results (April 2017)

A financial donation by Rural Media South Australia to the Nepal Earthquake Relief Appeal in 2015 has assisted in the process of resurrecting that country’s agricultural sector.

RMSA’s contribution was made as part of an initiative developed by the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists and facilitated in this country by the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists.  Initial results of the donation included a school agricultural training centre, providing potential to create a long-term legacy for the rural sector of Nepal.

While nearly 80% of Nepal’s population depended upon subsistence farming for their livelihoods, the country’s agricultural industry was devastated by the earthquake.  Investment in agriculture, enabling people to farm successfully again, was one of the main objectives of the fundraising project.

The project supported by RMSA’s donation looked at two principal areas of assistance.

The first was an income generation and skills-learning programme for the Triratna community school in the Lalitpur region.  This provided pupils with the basic agricultural skills and knowledge that would allow them to gain meaningful employment after completion of their schooling.

Using empty land at the school premises, a kitchen garden was created and a range of vegetables grown.  These were used in the school’s ‘home stay’, run by the cooperative to generate income for local social work and were also sold to school staff and parents.  The profits funded further school projects.

A second project focused on microcredit, also in the Lalitpur region.  Laligurnas Mahila Samuha was a women’s group in Thulopukhari that had just begun to invest in agriculture by saving a small amount of money within their group.  Each member had been saving 100 rupees (about $1.36) per person per month, the plan being to pool these amounts and distribute the sum as loans.

However, with a top-up loan from the fundraising appeal, twelve women in the group were each able to initiate their own farming project, ranging from raising goats, pigs, or poultry, to growing vegetables or tomatoes.  To date, the group has not only been able to save money in buying less food from the market, but they have also been able to sell their excess products.  As part of the funding conditions, the money raised from these sales also allowed their children to go to school, ensuring the children’s long term education.

Clearing the land at Triratna school


Maya Nepali, with her family and the goats she bought using the microcredit loan


Stock Journal’s Jacqui Bateman – World’s Best Rural Photograph (April 2017)

The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) has named Stock Journal photographer, Jacqui Bateman as having taken the world’s best rural photograph.

Announced at the recent lFAJ 2017 Congress in Pretoria, South Africa, Jacqui’s winning photograph was of shearer, Daniel Telfer taken during shearing on Jacqui’s own Limestone Coast property at Furner in the state’s South East.  It featured a fully naked Daniel removing the wool off a sheep in a stance similar to that of PETA’s earlier anti-shearing publicity shot of an unclothed female model posing with a faux sheep covered in artificial red dye to simulate shearing cuts.

The genuine shearing shot of Daniel was originally published in the Stock Journal and formed part of Jacqui’s winning portfolio of photographs entered in RMSA’s 2016 Telstra & Rural Business Support Rural Media Awards.  It then went on to win the ‘People’ category of the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists’ 2017 Star Prize Photography awards.

In addition to taking out the overall Best Photograph Award in Pretoria, the photo also won the ‘People’ category.

Former ABC Rural Officer and current RMSA Telstra & Rural Business Support ‘Rural Journalist of the Year’, Cassandra Steeth was runner-up in the IFAJ/Rabobank award for ‘Best Audio Story’ announced in Pretoria.

Cassandra’s runner-up audio story was a gritty documentary on the conflicting emotions of farmers faced with a feral deer problem.  It originally aired in 2016 on ABC Radio National’s ‘Off Track’ program.

Audio of Cassandra Steeth’s runner-up IFAJ audio story award can be found at:

Pictured in Pretoria receiving her IFAJ runner-up ‘audio story’ award is Cassandra Steeth with two officials from the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists

Changing of the Rural Guard at the Advertiser (March 2017)

Following a forty year career in writing about the Australian agricultural sector, including 27 years at News Corporation, The Advertiser’s Rural Editor Nigel Austin decided late last year that it was time to leave behind the world of daily newspaper journalism.

His new direction in life is now the pursuit of a long-held dream to focus full-time on continuing his authorship of books focused on country Australia.

In leaving The Advertiser, Nigel said his career in the newspaper industry had been a truly interesting and fulfilling one, providing ample opportunity to meet an array of wonderful people.

Nigel Austin started writing about rural Australia at the Melbourne based Stock and Land publication in 1977 and since that time, there were few parts of the country that he didn’t visit.  His travels, many articles and the various books he wrote gave Nigel a rare insight into the lives of the people of rural Australia.

He won numerous national writing awards including the Henry Lawson Award, the Dalgety Farmers Award and various media awards in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Nigel also considered himself to have been fortunate to be awarded several overseas study scholarships to the United States, Japan and the European Union during his career.

As one of the longest serving rural journalists in Australia, Nigel Austin’s time in the industry provided inspiration to many.  In return, he expressed gratitude for the personal support received from Australian farmers and the rural sector in general.

Replacing Nigel Austin as The Advertiser and Sunday Mail’s Rural Editor has been award winning reporter, Belinda Willis.  Growing up in the Riverland and with a media career spanning over twenty years, her background was as senior business and environment reporter, including stints with the BBC and Discovery Networks.

Belinda Willis had also been media adviser to a former federal environment minister.

A highlight of her career was a high commendation in the prestigious Walkley Awards’ “best suburban, country or rural report category”.

Former Advertiser Rural Editor, Nigel Austin

SA Rural Journalist named Best Rural Broadcast Journalist in Australia (Feb 2017)

2016 SA Rural Journalist of the Year, Cassandra Steeth of ABC Rural Radio at Mount Gambier has been named by the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists as the Best Rural Broadcast Journalist in Australia.

In addition to competing against other radio entries from throughout Australia, Cassandra’s story had to compete against winning entries from the television and online awards.

As part of her prize, Cassandra will travel to South Africa and represent Australia at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists’ (IFAJ) Awards in April.

Cassandra’s winning radio story, “Reluctant Hunters” focused on the feral deer problem in the South East of SA. In addition to being broadcast locally in the SE, Cassandra’s story was aired to a national audience on ABC Radio National’s “Off Track” program.

ABC Rural Radio's Cassandra Steeth in December 2016, after being named the SA Rural Journalist of the Year

Deanna Lush awarded a Churchill Fellowship (Feb 2017)

Former editor of the Stock Journal and current principal of agricultural communications firm, AgCommunicators, Deanna Lush has just been awarded a Churchill Fellowship.

Deanna’s Fellowship will permit her to investigate communication, education and engagement methods to improve understanding of agriculture across the community.  It will take her to Canada, USA and UK.

Deanna Lush in her role as Rural Photography Award Judging Panel Chair, providing comments at the 2016 Awards

Every year as part of a national program, up to twelve South Australians are selected to receive Churchill Fellowships.  Worth an average of more than $25,000 each, these Fellowships create unique opportunities for ordinary Australians to travel independently anywhere in the world and explore a topic or issue they are passionate about.

Importantly, applicants do not need any specific qualifications and the Fellowships are not about formal academic study.  Unlike many other scholarship programs, they also offer considerable flexibility in terms of timing and duration.

In 2017, the Churchill Trust is making a particular push to encourage more applications from rural and regional sectors.  As hundreds of South Australians like Riverland citrus grower Ian Tolley, agricultural consultant Bill Long, cheese-maker Gina del Santo, rural communicator and author Liz Harfull and Bordertown farmer Roger Groocock can already attest, receiving a Fellowship really does open the door to a life-changing experience.

To find out more, people are invited to attend a free information session being held in Adelaide on Monday, February 20, 2017, at the Thebarton Community Centre, corner of South Rd and Ashwin Parade, Torrensville, from 6.00 – 8.00pm.  This information session will provide potential applicants with all they need to know to build a strong application.

To register visit Eventbrite.

More information is also available at or contact President of the SA Chapter of the Churchill Fellows Association, Graeme Adcock direct by email at / phone 0434 078 545.

Applications for the next round of Fellowships open on February 28 and close April 28, 2017.

While the Trust encourages people to apply via its online form, rural applicants with limited broadband access are invited to fax or email their applications.


Upcoming meetings

Rural Media South Australia aims to provide a genuine focus for rural issues, combined with a forum for networking between the highest levels of agribusiness, government, media and rural producers.

Members and guests are encouraged to note the following dates in their diaries:

2018 Meetings

Friday 27th April 2018

Bruce Creek
"Driving the beef industry forward"

(Luncheon 12 noon for 12.30 pm)
(Arkaba Hotel, Cnr Glen Osmond & Fullarton Roads, Adelaide)

Thursday 14th June 2018

Peter Wadewitz - Peats Soil
"Carbon sequestration: Converting recycled organics to quality fertiliser"
(Luncheon 12 noon for 12.30 pm)
(Goyder Mezzanine, Adelaide Showground, Wayville)

Thursday 6 September 2018

2018 RMSA Rural Bank Royal Show Breakfast
(Breakfast 7.00 am for 7.30 am)
(Members Banquet Room, Adelaide Showground, Wayville)

Friday 7 December 2018

2018 Telstra and Rural Business Support Rural Media Awards
RMSA Christmas Function

(Luncheon 12.00 noon for 12.30 pm)
(Members Banquet Room, Adelaide Showground, Wayville)