Calloused crusader: Jan Darlington dies age 79

ADVOCATE for rural women's rights Jan Darlington passed away on October 20 at the age of 79.

Mrs Darlington was a prominent regional female activist, a farmer, and community leader.

She was instrumental as one of the founding members of the Queensland Rural Women's Network in 1993.

She and a small group created the organisation to allow women a greater say on agricultural issues, which is still running today.

Now known as the Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women's Network (QRRRWN), their president Melissa Barnett said Mrs Darlington started to give rural women a say in the industry.

"Initially many years ago, the Australian census didn't allow women to be farmers as an occupation," Mrs Barnett said.

"She was a key figure in changing this, as she felt that it was time for rural women to have a voice, and be an equal participant in the industry."

 

Georgie Somerset, Bev Apel, Pam Somerset, Cindy Benjamin, Myra Dingle, Val Homer, Jan Darlington and Margaret Cruickshank at the QRW Steering Committee meeting in Mundubbera.
Georgie Somerset, Bev Apel, Pam Somerset, Cindy Benjamin, Myra Dingle, Val Homer, Jan Darlington and Margaret Cruickshank at the QRW Steering Committee meeting in Mundubbera.

 

 

Facing many hardships throughout her life, Mrs Darlington lost her husband Ray in 1985, leaving her to run the family farm while raising her three children Julie, Neal and Leesa.

She persevered in the face of adversity, and was able to develop and expand her farming enterprise at her 1300-acre property at Three Moon near Monto.

The property ran dairy, beef cattle and pigs, as well as growing crops and providing grain for stockfeeding.

Through drought seasons and farming challenges, she was able to source information for herself, and kept the farm alive.

Once her son joined the business in 1993, Mrs Darlington was able to focus on a new endeavour - women's rights in the ag industry.

She had come to realise that women were blocked in their efforts to become equal partners in rural enterprises.

Mrs Barnett said in the early days of the movement, there was work around advocating these equal rights, learning how to position yourself in the political sphere, and how to speak to politicians.

"Those were the foundations for the organisation, with her being such an influential woman.

"She and a group of women wrote the constitution, and established the principles for QRRRWN that we still follow today."

Even after stepping down as president, she would remain in contact with QRRRWN and contribute to what she had built.

In a conversation with former QRRRWN president Rosemary Burnett only this year, she had been discussing further plans for the organisation.

"She gave Rosemary a list of things we needed to look into, even wanting to address the issue of food waste in rural communities.

"She was a very charismatic, strong, opinionated woman, who certainly knew how to give a piece of her mind to the blokes."

Throughout her life Mrs Darlington had volunteered her time in a number of ways not only for women, but for the town of Monto.

She assisted in the development of the ABC radio rural woman of the year award, celebrating their achievements in regional areas.

Councillor Paul Lobegeier remembers joining her on projects including catchment care, as well as starting the Burnett Mary Regional Group.

"She was involved in numerous projects in the Monto community, helping with aged care

and Blue Care," he said.

"She had worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for the people of Monto, and we remember her efforts this week."

Sitting on multiple boards for Monto including the Dairy Festival board, economical development board, and water infrastructure board, her son Neil Darlington remembers her as a woman of responsibility.

"She always had this sense of duty, and I believe it was always there," he said.

"And because of this, she inspired a lot of women throughout her life."