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Southern Cross University wins AFR Higher Education Award for Industry Engagement


Sharlene King
28 August 2019

An innovative industry program which helped 28,500 primary producers tackle volatile markets, climate change and drought won the Industry Engagement category at last night’s Australian Financial Review Higher Education Awards.

Southern Cross University’s Farming Together Program was recognised for its mobilisation model that addresses the unprecedented environmental and economic threats to the livelihoods of Australian farmers.

The judges said Southern Cross University’s nomination was ‘outstanding’.

“The program offers data analytics to farmers, fishers and foresters and provides them with material on collaboration and co-operative structures. Judges noted the program had exceeded targets for farmers by 300 per cent.

‘‘In a 12-month period production values increased by over $20 million, targeted farm household incomes rose by $14 million and 131 full time equivalent jobs were created,’’ they said.

The Industry Engagement category was won jointly with Deakin University.

In her acceptance speech, the Program’s Director Lorraine Gordon, who recently received the Rural Community Leader of the Year Award, praised the University’s ‘can-do’ approach in tacking such a big project.

“Southern Cross University was brave to take on such a big project that was all about impact. Behind this is an awesome team that came from three states to help 28,500 farmers, fishers and foresters across every region of Australia, in every industry, to cope with what was coming -- which was climate change and drought.

“It was through collaboration that we’ve been able to set up these farmers to be resilient for what is coming for the future, so I couldn’t be more proud in this moment to be part of Southern Cross University. It means so much to farmers all across Australia,” Ms Gordon said.

During its two-year pilot period, the project delivered an innovative knowledge mobilisation model to primary producers nationwide, unlocking the power of collaboration and empowering a generation of primary producers.

Testament to its impact, Farming Together was recently promised another $3m funding from the federal government.

Ms Gordon said: “Never before had Australian agriculture received such concerted national effort to connect its stakeholders. Drawing on the proven power of collaboration, Farming Together built from the ground-up a bespoke engagement model targeted to the diverse needs of Australian farmers.”


AFR Higher Education Awards 2019 - Industry Engagement Award Finalists

Southern Cross University – Farming Together *

Deakin University – HSBC Blue Carbon citizen science program *

The University of Newcastle – Integrated Innovation Network (I2N)

The University of Sydney – Transforming air travel health and wellbeing

*Joint winner