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Stories from the frontline – Rural women thriving post disaster. How they did it and why you can too

A panel session where we will hear from rural women who are lived-experience trauma survivors – rural women who have thrived beyond the disaster they faced. They will explore what has helped them, what they did, who they reached out to and, with reflection, what they could have done differently.

There will also be an opportunity for meeting other rural women in the session and making connections in small group/break-out sessions where you can share your unique story of thriving beyond disaster.

Panel Members

  1. Kim Deans (Inverell)
  2. Dinah Mitchell (South Coast NSW)
  3. Jen Cowley (Dubbo NSW)
  4. Kate Schwager (Burren Junction)

About The Panelists

Kim Deans

Kim is a coach, educator and facilitator with over 30 years of experience working with rural businesses. Kim’s work is inspired by nature and her experiences in farm business management, holistic management, regenerative agriculture, systems thinking, permaculture, biodynamic farming and gardening. Kim spent 12 years working as a Rural Financial Counsellor so has worked with hundreds of farming businesses experiencing natural disasters and her rural property was impacted by the Tingha Plateau fire in 2019.


Jen Cowley

Jen has a diverse resume and an eclectic range of interests, experiences and passions, but it’s with storytelling and in community development that she feels most at home. She is a former editor and award-winning journalist, and is the author of a number of non-fiction and children’s books. Jen has a passion for community development and has served on a number of boards in the arts, wildlife conservation, community development, mental health and disability services.

Jen has worked with at-risk youth, been involved with humanitarian projects at home and around the world and has worked extensively with remote Aboriginal settlements in the NT. In 2019, Jen was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for services to regional communities.


Dinah Mitchell

Dinah is the designer and operator of Pearl Button Bridal the south coast’s only sustainable and ethical bespoke bridalwear business. Dinah has been working on sustainability in fashion for the last 20 years. She has brought her forward thinking perspective to bridal wear to create original and conscious designs for modern brides. Dinah’s property and business was impacted by the 2020 summer bushfires.


Kate Schwager

Kate lives at Burren Junction in the North West region of NSW and is a devoted community development professional. She has experience dealing with businesses, communities, researchers, and people from diverse backgrounds. During the 1 in 100-year drought and after winning the NSW Rural Women’s Award in 2006, Kate and her husband experienced a major downturn in their share farming business. Kate learned some valuable lessons and recently used those lessons again in the recent drought and would like to share those tips and her story of how they got through the last two droughts with others who may be experiencing similar struggles in their businesses.


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