From inside the farm gate: Rural women’s stories of thriving and surviving

From inside the farm gate: Rural women’s stories of thriving and surviving

Living on a farm, and developing anorexia nervosa at age 11, an illness neither correctly diagnosed nor treated until I moved to the city 20 years later, has had great impact on my life. The invisible taunts of shame and stigma followed me everywhere, and alienation from family of origin is an ongoing loss. The experience has made me an ardent and passionate advocate for better mental health services for country people. With pleasure I heartily welcome and support this call-out from behavioral scientist, Alison Kennedy, to rural women in my home State of Victoria:

Alison writes:

A call has gone out to rural farming women in Victoria, Australia, to share their personal story of managing tough times. The women are being invited to share their stories through participation in a digital storytelling workshop.

Examples of tough times endured by rural women include coping with and find a way through and beyond socioeconomic disadvantage, natural disasters and challenges to health or social and emotional well-being.

These often ‘invisible farmers’ will be empowered to work together to validate their experience and create personal stories in a safe, trusted, peer-supported environment—facilitating emotional expression without judgment, building self-confidence, a sense of achievement and encouraging positive social contact.

The resulting stories will be publicly exhibited to rural and urban audiences — giving voice to an unheard group of inspiring Victorian women, promoting communication and encouraging mutual reflection, empathy and understanding.

Workshop dates for From Inside the Farm Gate have been confirmed (January and February 2018 in Hamilton) and applications are invited now from potential participants. An Expression of Interest (EOI) form is available for interested women to complete and send back to us.

More information and the EOI can also be found at:

The three-day workshop is FREE to participating women (valued at $2500 per person) and support can be given to meet the costs of travel and accommodation.

The stories will be shared at the 2018 Women on Farms Gathering, the 2018 Victorian CWA Conference, via social media and on our NCFH website Discussion is continuing with other groups/venues regarding further dissemination of the stories.

For more information contact Alison on: + 61 (03) 5551 8587 or email

About Alison Kennedy PhD, BBSc (Honours), PostGradDipArts (Criminology)

Alison is a Behavioural Scientist who has lived and worked in Victoria’s rural farming community for the past 15 years. Her doctoral research explored the impact that suicide & accidental death have on members of Australian farming families. Alison’s role at the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH) since 2010 has included research addressing alcohol misuse in farming communities (Alcohol Intervention Training Program), rural suicide prevention and suicide stigma reduction (The Ripple Effect, and increasing the understanding of rural women’s experience of managing tough times (From Inside the Farm Gate). As a community educator, Alison has worked as part of the ‘Look Over the Farm Gate’ campaign—delivering health and wellbeing workshops to farmers and community members across areas of Victoria experiencing tough times. She also regularly presents to community, health professionals and industry groups on issues of farmer health, well-being and safety.

June Alexander

About June Alexander

All articles by June Alexander

As founder of Life Stories Diary my prime motivation is to connect with people who want to share their story. Why? Because your story is important. My goal with this blog is to provide a platform for you to share your story with others. Building on the accomplishments of The Diary Healer the Life Stories Diary blog will continue to be a voice for people who have experienced an eating disorder, trauma or other mental health challenge, and provide inspiration through the narrative, to live a full and meaningful life.

My nine books about eating disorders focus on learning through story-sharing. Prior to writing books, which include my memoir, I had a long career in print journalism. In 2017, I graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy (Creative Writing), researching the usefulness of journaling and writing when recovering from an eating disorder or other traumatic experience.
Today I combine my writing expertise with life experience to help others self-heal. Clients receive mentoring in narrative techniques and guidance in memoir-writing. I also share my editing expertise with people who are writing their story and wish to prepare it to publication standard. I encourage everyone to write their story. Your story counts!
Contact me: Email and on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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