For Michelle Smith, Agri Labour Australia’s Northern States Regional Manager based in Goondiwindi, the global pandemic has seen a significant rise in women working across agriculture roles.
A country girl through and through, Michelle joined the Agri Labour Australia (ALA) team in 2019. Having been in the agriculture recruitment space since 2011 and enjoying a successful career running a mobile pre-school and delivering agriculture employment programs to indigenous young people across rural areas, Michelle was the perfect fit for ALA.
With her extensive knowledge of cotton, grain, livestock and horticulture operations, Michelle has been a constant figure across areas of rural and regional Queensland, delivering support, advice and critical staffing solutions to clients during COVID-19.
Michelle’s personal and professional networks are extensive and have been built on the back of her genuine love of the land, the people in it and a keen determination to see more women working in agriculture and supporting rural communities and businesses to succeed.
Michelle says, ‘Agriculture hasn’t stopped for a moment during COVID-19 and it’s been vital to keep working with my clients and reaching out to those agribusinesses who need assistance in finding the right staff to keep things moving.’
‘While COVID-19 restrictions were in place, I was constantly on the phone – checking in with people to see how they were doing. I was concerned about keeping those connections going but then pleasantly surprised at how willing people were to Zoom into meetings with me. ‘This adaptability is reflective of country people, however what has also been interesting during COVID-19, is the increase in applications and visibility of women in various roles across farms and ag sites.’
Michelle adds, ‘This is a positive step forward towards seeing more women building careers within the sector and subsequently moving into managerial and senior roles in years to come. Many people are more open to hiring women now – there’s so many incredible women in agriculture who are positive role models and great examples of just how beneficial our contribution is to agriculture as a whole.’
Michelle’s industry knowledge, honesty and reliability puts Agri Labour Australia’s clients at ease, as does her genuine love of connecting clients on the land with the right people for their business.
Michelle remains connected to the land outside work and can often be found pursuing her passion for polocrosse. She is Secretary of the Goondiwindi Polocrosse Club and has been awarded the Queensland Polocrosse Management Award for her contribution to the game.