The recent announcement of the 2020 ‘Hidden Treasure’ Honour Roll sees three local women recognised for their contribution through volunteering. Carolina Merriman from Good Hope, Catriona McAuliffe from Yass and Peta Luck from Gunning join 104 rural women nominated for the Hidden Treasures Honour Roll, an initiative of the State Government’s Rural Women’s Network.

Adam Marshall MP, Minister for Agriculture and Western New South Wales, acknowledged the pressure that 2020 has had on rural women, families and communities stating it is through the work of volunteers that we continue to move forward. The Honour Roll is a testament to rural and regional women’s resilience and support through this time.

Hidden Treasures is an annual initiative of the Department of Primary Industries’ Rural Women’s Network and recognises volunteers in emergency services, the arts, environment, social justice, education and sports organisation to name a few areas. It aims to acknowledge existing volunteers and encourage others to take up the mantle and help their communities.

Following the above criteria, the three local women nominated have been recognised for their generous contributions to the Yass Valley region.

Catriona McAuliffe of Yass is described on the Honour Roll nomination as having a contagious energy and resilience and successfully delivers excellence in any engagement. Mrs McAuliffe is a Regional Services Manager for NSW Farmers supporting a diverse membership across the Central West Region.

“It was very lovely to be acknowledged especially by a young person who wanted to nominate me. That was very, very humbling,” said Mrs McAuliffe.

Catriona McAuliffe

The wealth of knowledge that Catriona brings is exemplified by her roles at Food & Agribusiness Solutions to an incredible 20 years with the Yass Show Society, and executive committee roles as vice president and former treasurer.

Mrs McAuliffe is on the organising committee for the Rural Women’s Gathering in Forbes in 2021 and through her ideas and leadership has established programs and events for young farmers. She has been a driving force behind securing funding and maintaining high-level attendance at these events and has been attributed to being possible through her hard work and commitment.

“I am very much of the hidden ilk. I like to work behind the scenes and help people achieve what they need to achieve, whether it be for the farmers, young people, the show movement or anything else,” said Mrs McAuliffe.

She describes her volunteering as a ‘bit of a family affair’ having two daughters and a husband who support her work.

“My daughters are both very capable young women. It’s been nice to be able to do stuff together and show them the value of being involved in things,” said Mrs McAuliffe.

Carolina Merriman

Carolina Merriman from Good Hope is a very active member of the local farming community and has put herself forward for volunteer positions just when the going got tough. She has taken on roles in the NSW Farmers branch during the peak of the drought, which was a significant commitment for a young mother.

“It means the world to me to be recognised. I’m really humbled by our community and feel like I am achieving results. I’m absolutely so grateful working with the amazing community which has helped me achieve new and better outcomes for them,” said Ms Merriman.

Ms Merriman has been a leading force in getting the community behind various drought, mental health, drone and weed management training initiatives. The Honour Roll nomination described Ms Merriman as doing a lot of thankless work that not many other people are prepared to do which is even more impressive as a young mother and is a role model for all.

“It’s a role that has allowed me to work with my daughter and together show that there is such high importance for teaching our younger generation about our agricultural industry. My daughter comes first beyond and above anything,” said Ms Merriman.

Peta Luck

Peta Luck of Gunning is the past President and current member of the Gunning District Association. The Honour Roll nomination describes Ms Luck as the leading proponent for securing grants to build an outdoor gym and an electric vehicle charging station in Gunning. She was also involved in gaining grants to plant trees, build a fence around the Gunning playground, and build infrastructure for cyclists.

Ms Luck has organised the Gunning Patchwork Weekend since its inception 15 years ago and is instrumental to its operations. She is also a strong advocate for young people campaigning for a youth worker for Local Government and going along to Youth Consultation events.

To further add to her volunteering resume Ms Luck is a member of Farmers for Climate Action. She is bringing environmental concerns into the spotlight. Along with her husband Phil, they run Dorpers because of the better ecological impact this breed of sheep has.

Having volunteered in Gunning in various roles over the past 20 years, Ms Luck has shown her devotion and how cherished she is by the local community.

These three ‘Hidden Treasures’ have shown themselves to be excellent members of our community, and we thank them and other volunteers for their continued efforts to make Yass Valley a better place.

For more information about Hidden Treasures contact: Rural Women’s Network NSW Department of Primary Industries 02 6391 3620

By Ryan Betts