REGENERATE RURAL WOMEN PROGRAM: Women living in rural areas are often the glue holding families, businesses and community together. Particularly during times of crisis or disruption, life can quickly become overwhelming. Stress and anxiety can start to creep in as we try to keep our head above water. The importance of taking care of ourselves becomes increasingly important.

Kerry Bammann (pictured below) lives on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula with her husband and three children. She is a broadacre farmer, alongside her husband, a job she has dreamed of doing since she was a child.

The pathway for women in farming has not always been encouraged. In fact, women were not legally able to identity as a “farmer” until as recently as 1994. Kerry was deterred from pursuing a career in farming initially as her parents discouraged it. Instead, she went on to university and became an agronomist. Her career led her to the Eyre Peninsula where she eventually married, ironically, a farmer. Her dream was realised when she chose to leave her job in agronomy and join her husband on the farm.

Farming is not an easy career choice. After years of being told she shouldn’t be working on a farm, Kerry was starting to question whether this was the right place for her. The feelings of uncertainty were taking their toll and she noticed she was becoming impatient and irritable, especially with those close to her including her husband and children.

“All my life I had been told that farming wasn’t for me, and I was starting to believe it. I’d been wondering whether I’ve been too busy trying to prove a point (that I was meant to be a farmer) and not explored other opportunities. It felt like I was having a bit of an identity crisis,” explains Kerry.

Pushing these thoughts aside, she soldiered on, tending to everyone else’s needs but abandoning her own. Though she had at times explored various self-awareness and self-care strategies, there remained a feeling inside her that just needed to be addressed.

The Regenerate Rural Women Program came to Kerry’s attention when a local WoTL Ambassador encouraged her to consider participating. Naturally, there was a small amount of reservation before committing to the program but with some encouragement, she signed up.

“I’m so grateful I did.”

Kerry Brammann

Regenerate Rural Women Program

The WoTL Regenerate Rural Women Program is a six-week guided self-exploration program. Led by experienced and knowledgeable facilitators, participants commit to an online orientation session, two in-person workshops and an online coaching session.

A key focus of the program is to challenge participants to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and where their thoughts, ideas and opinions may come from.

“Our group was small, which was great because it felt safe and we were comfortable to speak openly and freely to share our stories. There was complete confidentiality and trust,” explains Kerry.

“Most of us realised quite early on that we’re not going to be any good to anybody (family, friends, community) if we’re not filling own cup first and looking after ourselves.

“Our facilitator was just brilliant in how she supported the women in the room. People could share how much they wanted to, or how little. The storytelling was everyone’s favourite part. I think we could see a part of ourselves in the other women.”

“We were invited to explore spaces we don’t visit very often, or ever. Our facilitator just had a way of working it through to release stuff. When I was struggling to make sense of my own feelings, she was the key to unlocking what was really going on. It was quite emotional for me to be opening those doors.”

Kerry completed the program with a fresh new perspective.

“I’d spent my whole life trying to prove that I was meant to be a farmer, proving that’s who I was and that I can do it.

“What was important though was for me to recognise that now that I am doing it, that I do love farming and it fills my cup. This is me and I belong here.”

The changes and shifts were not only noticeable in Kerry, but also within her family unit.

“I hadn’t had a chance to unravel or understand my emotions and where they came from. Since completing the program, I’ve made peace with myself and that has flowed on to my family. I’m a much better person for having participated in the program. Everyone around me seems to be in a much better place too.”

Kerry now makes taking time for herself a priority. Regular yoga classes and morning walks are now non-negotiable. She’s also been able to say ‘no’ to things to take back time for her.

“The program was amazing. I found the answers that I’d been searching for for so long and I feel so much more content and at peace with where I’m at.”

Abbi Dahlitz (pictured in cover image) is a young mum with a toddler. After growing up on the Eyre Peninsula, she attended boarding school in Adelaide for her final years. On completion of her schooling, she went into a career in real estate.

She swore she would never go back to the Eyre Peninsula, but life can be funny like that, as during her time in Adelaide she met her partner, also from the Eyre Peninsula.

“He just wanted to be a farmer,” said Abbi.

After a move back to the Eyre Peninsula where her partner now works on Abbi’s family farm, and following the birth of their child, Abbi felt like she was in a bit of a rut.

“I didn’t feel like I had any life goals. I felt stuck and that I wasn’t doing enough.”

Whilst on maternity leave, Abbi considered whether now might be a good time to pursue further study. With a childcare shortage though, this option was beginning to look difficult.

Like Kerry, Abbi also came across the Regenerate Rural Women Program through a WoTL Ambassador.

“I was nervous about what I was getting myself into. After the first day I remember thinking ‘these girls have got their life on track, they’ve studied and have careers’. I saw them as people in the community who have got it all together.”

As she moved through the program, the nerves settled and Abbi started to feel more at ease as she connected with the other women in the room.

“What I realised was how much we all had in common. I don’t think anyone felt like they knew what they were doing (in life), and that is completely normal feeling to have. In fact, it was quite reassuring!”

The biggest shift for Abbi after completing the program is a change of perspective, particularly around her personal circumstances. Many women often feel a perceived pressure to return to work quickly after having children, for fear of losing their skills, being left behind or for financial or other reasons.

“I’m more satisfied with where I am at this point. It’s OK to be at home and enjoying time with my family. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side and just by doing further study is not going to bring the fulfillment I’ve been looking for.”

“I feel a lot more content.”

Since completing the program, Abbi has picked up part-time work one day a week which has given her what she needed to fill her cup but has also allowed her to focus on what is most important in this season of her life – her family.

Find out more about WoTL’s Regenerate Rural Women Program.