Women who Mean Business selling Gippsland 's Finest
  Project Officer Profiles

Beth Ripper
Co-Project Officer for Maffra / Stratford

Beth Ripper, Stratford-Maffra, loves to colour her world with art… My life at present revolves around caring for my four year old grand daughter Tilly and working passionately in several community organisations - as artistic director of the Shakespeare on the River Festival and as project co-ordinator of the Blackall Creek restoration project with the Avon Landcare group.

Along with this I am attempting to market my home based business, “Tranquil B&B” in Stratford. I have always had an ability to see the “big picture” and that tends to lead me to see the connections between “projects” and consequently the endless potential for participation and both personal and community development.

I tend to see the positive elements in situations before I see the problems. I love working with others, I love research and organisation, I love a good discussion and I love getting down and getting mucky!

I have never been bored in my whole life. I love singing, I love thinking and being creative, I love friends, I love being a Willing Worker on Organic Farms (WWOOF) host, I love growing my own food, I love living in the Stratford community and I love living in my fabulous house.

I am part of the WwMB garden project in Stratford. This project has a link to the Blackall Creek Avon Landcare vision - “Blackall Dreaming” project. I was also active in the Uniting Our Rural Communities Project - the building of seats, two of which are located in the area being developed as the WwMB contemplative sculpture garden in Stratford.

I also participated in the Moving the posts exhibition that came about as a result of that group.

Beth Ripper is sharing the project officer job for Stratford-Maffra group with Hilda Rhodes. Deb Milligan, who previously held this position, has stood down for personal reasons but remains project officer for Omeo and is actively involved in the Maffra group.

Deb Milligan
Project Officer for Omeo.

Deb ran her own business for a few years in Stratford and worked as a freelance designer and muralist until the birth of her second child.

She is also a practicing artist and has a firm belief in everyone’s innate creativity and a commitment to encouraging its growth. Deb traveled extensively before settling in Briagolong 10 years ago and now revels in the strong and exciting community spirit found throughout the whole region.

She is inspired by the vision for this project and sees it as extremely valuable. She was involved in one of the early focus groups and has watched its development with interest.

Deb has a strong belief in the benefit of projects such as the Women who Mean Business in that it empowers individuals and it builds in strength and spirit of whole communities


Kate Earle
Project Officer for Orbost & District & Buchan & District

Kate was born in England of Irish parents who were married in Edinburgh and settled in the Midlands in England.

Kate is an identical twin and has an older brother and a younger brother and sister. Kate emigrated to Australia in 1987 with her husband and three children to teach at Nagle College in Bairnsdale.

The family settled in Bairnsdale and bought a property near Marlo in Far East Gippsland where they farmed ostriches and a number of goats.

Kate said, “while farming full time I saw Peter McGauran, MLA for Gippsland, on television talking about the 1998/99 leadership project – Uniting Our Rural Communities – for rural women.

Kate became involved in helping the Orbost and district women create the mosaic path at Forest Park in Orbost and was involved in the formation of the “Women of the Snowy River” movement.

Kate teaches one day a week at Orbost North Primary School and is a Regional Councilor for Adult Community and Further Education in the Gippsland Region.

Kate says she is excited about being involved in this new project knowing that it has the potential to unite Rural Women and develop their leadership skills and equip them with the means to network and grow both as individuals and as a group.

Tina Hambleton
Project Officer for Yarram & District.

Tina Hambleton was born in England and moved to Australia with her parents when she was nine years old. Tina grew up in Western Australia on a dairy farm and apple orchard and then moved to Perth to attend high school and university.

Tina has three children and five grandchildren.

Tina has gained a number of academic qualifications including an Arts Degree- Majoring in Economics, a Librarian's Certificate and a Diploma of Education. She has also had an ongoing interest in farming having spent a number of years involved in sheep farming in Gippsland.
She has worked extensively in both the public and private sectors. Tina's work in the public sector has included: 24 years within the state education system, including teaching, as an educational consultant; holding vice principal and principal's positions at Kurnai College in the Latrobe Valley, and later, at Warragul Regional College.

Tina has also been the Executive Officer for a Division of General Practice in the Yarra Ranges and for the South Gippsland Bass Coast Local Learning and Employment Network. She is presently employed part time as the project officer for the Alberton Project for Yarram and District.

Tina has made a significant contribution to the community through her work as the president of the Mirboo North Hospital Board where she presided over the important transformation of the hospital into a hostel and nursing home. Tina also contributed to the community through her valuable work as the president of the School Library Association of Victoria

She has traveled extensively, enjoys concerts, caravanning, gardening, bike riding and is currently enjoying the restoration of a boat. Tina and her partner live in Alberton West. They own and manage a beef property at Binginwarri.

Michelle Tisdale
Project Officer for Morwell / Moe.

Michelle was born and educated in the Latrobe Valley. She has spent her time participating in children's programs and community programs, whilst raising two children. She hopes to complete her BBsc in 2005.

She sees this project as a way of combining the things that she values in life, Women, food,community food and sharing. Finding this project a wonderful way to meet new faces and develop new skills.




Lara Whitehead
Project Officer for Warragul.

Lara was born in the USA, but moved to Australia with her Australian husband nine years ago after finishing her Masters Degree in Linguistics.

Today she lives in Ellinbank with 2 dogs and 2 children, but just one husband (the same one who brought her here!).

She divides her 'spare' time between writing non-fiction books for children, sewing and reading as much as possible.

Lara's six books have been published in five counties and she is currently working on a series of books about environmental issues.



Meg Viney
Introduced the project in South Gippsland & is Managing the Quilt Project in Meenyian

Meg was born and educated in Melbourne. She trained as a secretary, then as a nurse. Subsequently Meg married and went to live in San Francisco, but her Australian heart yearned for home, and it was thus that Meg ventured into art, for it was with art where Meg says she “found gentleness and strength.”

Whilst raising her two boys, Meg studied part-time, and completed a Bachelor of Fine Art, majoring in Fiber Sculpture.

On returning to Australia, Meg completed a Graduate Diploma of Education and taught both Art and Food at VCE level. Moving to Gippsland in 1993.

She again taught Art, and in 2001 was given the opportunity to become a Gallery Director. She is concurrently doing a Master of Visual Arts at Monash, An excited Meg says, “I feel truly honoured to accept the position of Project Coordinator in Women who Mean Business South and West Gippsland.

The women I have met thus far have inspired me with the belief that this be a dynamic experience and an unforgettable part of our growth as women.”

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