Fran Rowe awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to community

FOR SERVICES TO THE COMMUNITY: Fran Rowe is one of the Australians recognised on the Queen's Birthday 2020 Honours List, after helping farming families for three decades. Photo: AMY McINTYRE
FOR SERVICES TO THE COMMUNITY: Fran Rowe is one of the Australians recognised on the Queen's Birthday 2020 Honours List, after helping farming families for three decades. Photo: AMY McINTYRE

For more than 30 years Fran Rowe has been helping farming families and she's loved every day of it.

Ms Rowe is one of the Australians recognised on the Queen's Birthday 2020 Honours List. She's received an Order of Australia Medal for 'service to the rural community of NSW'.

Ms Rowe has been a rural financial counsellor at the Tottenham office of the Rural Financial Counselling Service since 1986. Now, in 2020, Ms Rowe said the organisation was seen as an integral part of every rural community.

She's been a member of numerous agricultural groups and advisory boards.

She was on the NSW Rural Assistance Authority Board for 23 years, including eight years as chair. Ms Rowe was also an inaugural member of the NSW Rural Women's Network State Advisory Committee, which she went on to co-chair.

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The Dubbo resident has a long list of accolades to her name, including Rural Woman of the Year in 2012, but one of her biggest achievements was in 1989.

"It was the Ronald Anderson award for achievement in agriculture and it was known as 'Man of the Year'. That was way back in the '80s and that resulted in rural women ringing in and being so happy. It was something you really shared," Ms Rowe said.

"It actually raised awareness that women contribute to agriculture. From then on you began to see awards for women that recognised their contribution to agriculture.

"I think that was something I enjoyed with all those farming women and rural women who were there working in their rural communities, working on their farms and there was not such an award of the time. That sits in pride of place because it brought about change. It made people aware that women contributed."

It was an emotional moment for Ms Rowe when she heard about the accolade.

"You do really feel all those things you read about. And then she said to me 'it's your community's way of saying thank you' and that really made me feel humble," she said.

"Your community, the farming families you've worked with, the chances you've had to contribute to agricultural policy has given you a wonderful life and someone rewards you for having had three decades of a great time? I've met wonderful families and people who are experts in their field. You feel humbled."

Ms Rowe said she loved the people she has met along the way, from the farming families to the experts in agriculture.

"How many people can say they've really enjoyed every day of their working life? And I had that opportunity. It's been good," she said.