Colleen Condliffe

Colleen Condliffe's contribution to her rural area has been immense.

Honour Roll

"I listen to people and I like to let people have their say. I listen to them, if I think I can help, I hop in and help" - Colleen Condliffe

In 1995 Colleen Condliffe started as Chairperson of a new group called Australia Help Ltd. Its aim was to feed and provide support to drought-affected farmers, and the original thinking was it would continue for one or two years. However, when some of the original helpers moved away, the organisation folded and Colleen was left to wind it up.

"One day I was here at home and a family came for some food and I didn't have the heart to turn them away," Colleen says. "I thought I had to keep it going. I took myself to town and went to see a Minister asking if they could help me. They formed a committee and it's been bigger and stronger ever since."

Colleen still does most of the work for Australia Help Ltd, handing out food from her farm in Salisbury West. Food is provided by VicRelief Foodbank and local companies such as Bakers Delight in Bendigo. "We are feeding about 70 farmers a week at home here. It's a huge job. They have a chat with you and it's a good way of keeping in touch with who is in strife. You can then forward them on to get other help if it's needed."

She spent nine years as a councillor for Loddon Shire Council, serving on a diverse range of committees.

"I have had many achievements," she says. "I look at them when I drive around and I think, 'that was because of me'. I loved council. I loved what I did."

Colleen is also actively involved in the Victorian Farmers Federation and in 2002 represented Australia at the third World Congress for Rural Women in Spain. From this experience she has applied new knowledge to the committees of organisations she is involved with.

In 2006 Colleen successfully completed the Australian Rural Leadership Program. While doing so she advocated for a higher representation of women on the program. Colleen said of about 33 participants there had only ever been four women in the past, and they were aged under 45. "I said I thought they should have had a bit more of a balance." Since then, there have been 13 female participants in each program, with five aged over 50.