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'You can't be what you can't see': How TAFE NSW helped Sam fly the flag for women in ag


'You can't be what you can't see': How TAFE NSW helped Sam fly the flag for women in ag

4 March 2024

TAFE NSW has helped a Blacktown-raised woman with Asian heritage charge through the ranks of the wool industry and become an unlikely symbol for the changing face of the nation’s farming sector.

Samantha Wan, 36, completed a Certificate IV in Agriculture at TAFE NSW Richmond, enjoying the hands-on, practical training offered at TAFE NSW.

She later joined Elders as a trainee and has since worked her way up to become an auctioneer, quality assurance manager and trainer at the agribusiness giant.

Her experience reflects the rapidly changing nature of the agriculture industry, with about a third of the once male-dominated workforce now female, according to figures from ABARES.

“You can’t be what you can’t see and it wasn’t easy to see myself making a career in agriculture,” Ms Wan said. “studying at TAFE NSW Richmond was huge for me; it gave me confidence and skills, and reminded me why I wanted to be in ag.”

Ms Wan, who also runs about 100 head of merino sheep with her partner, said she relished her role with Elders and had been embraced by clients in the broader farming community.

“I’m the first generation of my family born in Australia and no one from my family was going into agriculture,” she said. “But to be with a really progressive company like Elders and to be part of the larger agricultural community has given me an even deeper connection with Australia.”

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) outgoing president Fiona Simson, the first female president in the organisation’s 40-year history, said the NFF’s goal was to double the number of women in agriculture’s leadership ranks by 2030, adding TAFE NSW was an important pathway for aspiring ag professionals.

“We want to see more meaningful change toward gender diversity in the agricultural sector and we know that TAFE NSW is playing an integral role in helping to attract female students and train the next generation of women in the industry,” she said.


TAFE NSW Director of Agribusiness Barry Quine said TAFE NSW Richmond’s specialist facilities, which include livestock handling facilities and a horticultural centre of excellence, and close ties with industry gave graduates a distinct edge in the jobs’ market.

“It’s such an exciting time to be entering the agriculture industry and TAFE NSW is giving students the in-demand skills and real-world work experience to hit the ground running,” Mr Quine said.

“Technology is helping reshape farming as we know it and the younger generation, like Samantha, are ideally positioned to be the agricultural leaders of tomorrow.”


Media contact: Dan Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, mobile 0477 722 428