Originally from Brinkworth, a small farming community in South Australia’s mid north, Rachel Brereton has had a connection with the land for as long as she can remember. An entrepreneur in her own right, Rachel forged her career in rural industries as a self-employed bookkeeper, and later a long-standing employee of Pangkarra Pty Ltd. Now based on a small hobby farm just outside of Clare, Rachel’s proudest achievement is her three children – Abbie, Mitch and Cooper. Rachel’s zest for rural life is infectious, citing that her favourite thing about being a rural woman is that “you never experience the same day twice”.
When asked what concerned Rachel about the health and safety of those in rural industries, Rachel highlighted the impact of fatigue – particularly whilst working under pressure to “beat the weather or to meet a deadline”. Rachel reinforced the importance of using the quieter times as an opportunity to acknowledge risk and to make improvements, in addition to – where possible – standardising the way the work is done.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Honest, passionate and intuitive.
Tell me something interesting about yourself...
Born and bred in the small country town of Brinkworth means my roots to the country lifestyle and the agricultural industry run deep. After working on remote cattle and sheep stations and having always had a strong love of the land, I’ve always found myself constantly drawn to the industry. As a young woman, it was difficult to find employment within the industry; so I decided to start my own bookkeeping business, with the intention to help time-poor farmers offload a job that most of them disliked and desperately needed help with. I was fortunate to meet an amazing group of clientele of whom I’m still involved with today. Marriage and children followed which meant my bookkeeping days were scaled back, but not entirely dropped. Today, my husband works FIFO and we have a small hobby farm that consumes most of our time, along with our three children; Abbie , Mitch and Cooper. I continue to work part time for an amazing family who run a local farming enterprise along with Pangkarra Pty Ltd, a food producing business where I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have shared the journey from its conception to the successful business it is today. I love that after 14 years of working with this family, I can still say each day is exciting.
What's one achievement you are most proud of?
As most parents would say, my proudest achievement is my kids – Abbie, Mitch and Cooper. However, I’m also very proud that I’ve managed to find a career in the rural sector, which holds a special place in my heart.
What makes you truly happy?
A purpose, a reason to get out of bed, and the journey that life offers. Each day is a new day!
What do you love the most about being a rural woman?
The people and the variety that each day can bring to your life. You never experience the same day twice.
Tell me about a time when you felt worried about your own or someone else’s health, safety or wellbeing on the farm, boat or in some other aspect of rural life.
Fatigue! Farming requires a huge amount of hours in sometimes a small space of time, to either beat the weather or to meet a deadline. I’ve seen the toll this can take on one’s body and mind.
What practical things did or could you, your partner and / or others do to prevent someone from getting hurt?
Recognise the risks and put procedures in place to prevent or reduce the risks where possible.
Is there a time, place or scenario when your partner / workers are more willing to make changes to the way work is done?
The quiet times in between seasonal tasks are certainly a good time to brainstorm and make changes.
If you could give any advice to another rural woman about work health and safety in rural industries, about influencing change in business - or just in general - what would it be?
A risk is a risk – whether it be small or large – it needs to be recognised and discussed so procedures can be put in place to mitigate that risk.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Don’t be afraid to review your work health and safety, it’s not as scary as it looks or sounds.