Mrs Irene Mills AM OSJ – Immediate Past President
Irene Mills represents the National Rural Health Alliance on the NRWC.  

Irene has lived all her life in rural Australia as a farmer, active community member and advocate for rural communities and lifestyle enhancement for rural people. She has worked tirelessly as a Hospital Board and member of the National Rural Health Alliance member for the retention and improvement of Health and Aged care services in small rural communities.

Irene was Chair of Friends of the National Rural Health Alliance 2003 -2008, and a member of the Alliance Council and a board member. Currently she is also a member of the Southern Governing Council in WA appointed by the Minister for Health. She is Chair of the Avon & Western District Health Advisory Council, Secretary of the Dalwallinu Community resource Centre and in Jan 2009 was appointed to the Rural Regional & Remote Women’s reference group in WA.   Irene has previously chaired a Ministerial working party to review Governance of Rural Health Services in WA and was a member of the WA Active Ageing Task Force. In 2007 & 2008 Irene was a mentor for the Young Rural Women’s Leadership program.

As chair of WA Country Hospital Board Council Irene has represented rural communities at numerous forums and served on many committees. She has presented papers at workshops and Conferences and had a paper published in the Rural Health Journal of Australia. Irene chaired and established the first Multi-Purpose Health Services Pilot in Australia. Irene has also presented a paper on Ageing in small rural Communities at the International Federation on Ageing Conference in Singapore in 2003

In 1996 Irene was awarded an Order of Australia AM for her services to Rural Health and Rural Communities then in 2001 was recognized as volunteer of the Year by National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. In 1998 Irene was made an Officer Servicing Sister by the St John Ambulance in WA for services to humanity. Irene is a life member of the St John Ambulance Association of Western Australia.

Irene has been a member of the NRWC since 2004 was secretary for two years and is now serving her second year as President.  



Noela MacLeod

Representing the Country Women’s Association – Australia.

Noela has been married for just on fifty years and has one son, three daughters and twenty grandchildren. She has lived part of her life in rural Victoria and part in the outer suburbs of Melbourne. The family moved to Melbourne to give their three daughters the opportunity to attend University as her three daughters were attending Melbourne University at the same time studying for different courses. Her son was not interested in anything academic and took up a trade as an electrician.
Noela understands the difficulties experienced by rural and remote students in trying to complete their studies and attend University. Many able students have not been able to attend Tertiary Institutions because of the high cost of student accommodation, and so are not living up to their potential.
Noela has been a member of the Country Women's Association of Victoria for forty-one  years and has been a member of State Council for 20 years. She has served as Convenor of the Social Issues, Editor of the Victorian Country Woman Magazine for four years, has been a member of the Agriculture and Environment Committees and other Association Committees.  From 2005 - 2007, she was State President and during the drought at this time, Noela was responsible for the allocation of Government Funding and the Woolworths Drought Day Funding  to Farmers in crisis.
In 2008 she was elected as a Member of Honour of the Association. In 2012, Noela was elected as National President of the Country Women's Association of Australia.
Noela has been a Board member of the Victorian Arts Council; Keep Australia Beautiful Victoria; Victoria Relief Committee + Foodbank; Women's Health Victoria and been a Member of a number of  State Government Committees.
While living in Chiltern, Noela lobbied successfully to have a new school built and a Kindergarten established. She moved to Nhill in 1980, where she joined many organisations. Noela was the President of the Nhill Hospital Ladies Auxiliary for ten years. She was instrumental in establishing  Neighbourhood House, Community Education Group and a Regional Art and Craft Association.

She is vitally interested in issues which affect rural and remote women, children and families, and has lobbied successfully over many years on their behalf.

Lisa Shipley
Lisa is an indigenous representative on the NRWC. 

Lisa Shipley is a Kamilaroi woman from Northern NSW. She holds a Bachelor of Education and is currently completing a Masters of Education (Honours). Lisa is a committee member of the New South Wales Ageing, Disability and Homecare Aboriginal Advisory Committee, Director with National Rural Women’s Coalition and a reference group member for the Lowitja Institute Round Table on Maternal and Infant Health. 

Lisa’s current position is Indigenous Research Academic with the University of Newcastle, Department of Rural Health (UoNDRH) which involves researching the experiences and aspirations of Aboriginal women engaging in nursing education. She has presented at national and international conferences. Lisa was also selected as a delegate to the United Nations 57th session Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) forming the first Indigenous Caucus for CSW.

Dr Patricia Hamilton – President
Pat Hamilton is an independent Director

Patricia is the Past President of the National Australian Women in Agriculture Ltd and has served the organisation as a National learning Coordinator, Company Secretary and Editor of the newsletter, The Buzz. Each of these positions has given her the opportunity of working with a team of women committed to developing a dynamic organisation which aims to strengthen the adaptability, resilience and sustainability of their rural communities.

She is a retired sheep farmer, a retired Secondary School Principal and a life-long learner who willingly shares these passions. She currently lives with her husband, Geoff, on Yorke Peninsula, South Australia.  Patricia has a BA (Hons) in Anthropology and English and a PhD in which she recently explored how the learning activities of the Australian Grains Industry’s National Partners in Grain Project increased women’s participation in family farming businesses and in leadership positions in their industry. She also considered why, when rural communities are faced with challenges and change, women and young people are seen by industry stakeholders as the key to efficiency, increased profitability and productivity and sustainability in agriculture. She believes that there is a need for strong and informed voices in responding to the challenges currently facing us.

In 2009, Patricia was acknowledged on the South Australian Women’s Honour Roll in recognition of her dedication and continuous commitment as an advocate and mentor for rural women and youth across the country. Patricia has been able to combine her knowledge and experience from a diverse career to design and implement training programs for women who live in rural communities. Patricia’s involvement in research and evaluation with rural industries and communities has equipped her with a wide range of research and evaluation processes and experiences to be a valuable resource to maximise the contribution of rural women to sustainable, resilient and profitable rural industries and communities. She believes that individuals can achieve whatever they want if they have the desire and vision.

Remember: Be passionate—people die from the cold within.

Cr Alwyn Friedersdorff - Treasurer
Alwyn represents the Australian Local Government Women’s Association on the NRWC.  

Alwyn Friedersdorff comes from Tasmania where she has been an elected member on the Waratah-Wynyard Council for the past ten years. She has served as a board member for the Australian Local Government Women’s Association and is currently the national Treasurer and Tasmanian State President and is a driving force in working towards gender equity and diversity in Local Government. She also serves on the Board of COTA Tasmania.

Alwyn has been a community driven person for most of her life which began in New Zealand where she trained as a primary teacher. As a member of CWI, and later CWA in Australia, rural community life was her training ground towards becoming a leader with a broad variety of interests. She has been acknowledged for her contribution to Australian society with the Centenary Medal in 2001; as a Rotary Club Paul Harris Fellow in 2006 and as one of 120 Inspirational citizens from the North West coast of Tasmania by The Advocate newspaper, 2010.

She has gained Post Graduate Certificates in Housing Management & Policy (Swinburne 2000), implementing much of her learning into building and managing a small community housing project for People with Disabilities, and in Business Management (UTAS 2012) that directly relates governance issues, regional development, finance and entrepreneurship to her leadership role.


Donna Digby

Donna has been living and working in rural and regional communities in Victoria and in the Northern Territory for the past ten years, where her work has focused on working with land managers to implement integrated, sustainable land management programs. She currently lives in Alice Springs with her husband Matt.

Donna has been a member of AWiA for the past two years.  During that time she was awarded a scholarship to participate in the Next Gen Leadership and Decision Making in Agriculture Program in September 2010 (Rd2): assisted with the Next Gen Program (Rd3) in October 2011 and travelled with the AWiA delegation and attended the Global Conference for Women in Agriculture in March 2012 in Delhi, India.

Donna is passionate about networking with other women working in Agriculture in the Northern Territory and Northern Australia; raising the profile of AWiA nationally, creating opportunties for young women to connect, network and develop leadership skills and supporting and promoting sustainable food production in Australia.

Donna brings strong skills in program management and reporting, corporate governance, financial accountability, fostering resilient partnerships and enthusiasm to the National Rural Women's Coalition.


The NRWC recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as First Nation traditional owners and custodians of country throughout Australia, and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures, and to elders both past and present.

A Ligante web production. Brought to you by KateS on Web.

Copyright © National Rural Women's Coalition 2013-2014. All Rights Reserved.