Turn the Tide launches to support women in Australian seafood industry

A new program focused on the development, advocacy and support of women participating the Australian seafood industry was launched at World Aquaculture 2023 in Darwin last week.

Called Turn the Tide, this national three-year $3.36m program is being delivered by Women in Seafood Australasia (WISA) under a Leadership and Development Program Lead and Succeed grant from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Office for Women.

WISA executive officer Kirsten Abernethy says Turn the Tide takes an innovative approach which has been specifically designed to support the needs of women working in Australian seafood production.

“We have such an incredibly diverse industry and workforce, but women have not always been recognised and supported in the valuable contribution they make to our sector.

“There are systematic and cultural barriers women face throughout their careers, so our task is to make workplaces more attractive for us to thrive in, free of bias and safe from sexual harassment.

“With Turn the Tide we have a great opportunity to elevate the work women do and grow the capacity, confidence and leadership capabilities of this important cohort.

“If we can achieve that, the Australian seafood sector will certainly thrive.”

Turn the Tide is being delivered via three focused workstreams:

  • Breaking Barriers focuses on personal development and growth opportunities, tailored to individual needs and careers paths. It includes a mentoring program, study bursaries and an entrepreneurial and leadership skills development program.
  • Transforming Culture supports individuals and organisations that are interested to learn ways of making workplaces more attractive to women and encourage diversity. This includes an action research project, on-site and virtual training sessions for organisations, and development of an Industry Policy for improved workplace diversity, inclusion and wellbeing.
  • Building Resilience comprises a series of events, workshops, round tables, networking and collaboration activities to create better connected professional networks for women.

Organisers are encouraging women in all roles and levels of experience to participate.

“We often see images of people working on the water or handling a catch, but there are so many other parts to the industry that are essential to the supply chain” Dr Abernethy said.

“Think of scientists and researchers, commercial managers, market and export operators, policy makers, restauranteurs, and so many other roles that are critically important.

“We welcome – and need – women from all backgrounds to join in and make a difference.”

Dr Abernethy says that while Turn the Tide is designed for women, she anticipates the conversation will extend to the broader support of greater diversity across the sector.

“Combined, the Turn the Tide actions will reinforce and emphasise the positive impact and influence women and diversity has and how inclusivity adds value,” Dr Abernethy explained.

“I am thrilled that through Turn the Tide we have a meaningful way to a have long-lasting impact for individuals, organisations and the sector as a whole.”