Rural Development Service's Amabel Fulton Runner-Up 2008 Telstra Business Women's Innovation Award

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Rural industry leader Amabel Fulton won the Telstra Tasmanian Business Women's Award in the Innovation category and is Runner-Up in the National Finals of the 2008 Telstra Business Women's Innovation Award announced at a gala dinner in Melbourne on Tuesday 9 December 2008. Amabel was also Tasmanian Runner-Up in the 2008 Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation's (RIRDC) Rural Women's Award.

Amabel Fulton established Rural Development Services (RDS) with her husband, Dr David Fulton, in the late '90s to "enhance the capacity of people and organisations in rural Australia". She was appointed RDS's first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 2005.

Amabel's passion for sustainable land management goes back to the '80s with studies in Agricultural Science at the University of Tasmania. Her success is built on two decades of experience and her combination of skills as a scientist, businesswoman and communicator from roles as a horticulturalist, rural reporter, lecturer in agricultural extension, and rural sociologist.

The entry of Dr Tom Lewis as a partner in Rural Development Services allowed Amabel to concentrate on systems development and the strategic direction of the business. Her innovations reshaped the business from a self-employment, family business model, to a profitable corporate business with expanded services including rural professional service brokerage.

Under Amabel's direction Rural Development Services has become increasingly 'needs focused' with significant growth in turnover and profitability. In the three short years since Amabel turned her attention more fully towards the business, Rural Development Services is now a national operation with more than a team of highly qualified staff providing specialist rural development training, consulting and support services to Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) and major agribusiness clients across Australia.

Sue Kilpatrick, Associate Professor at University of Tasmania Department of Rural Health, says, "Amabel has not only developed her own innovative business, she has also worked with industry groups in the sector at state and national levels to encourage the uptake of sustainable practices through participation in appropriate learning activities."

Amabel continues to be directly involved in training and support programs for landholders, large and small. She is also involved in the implementation of sustainable industry development throughout regional Australia via rural project management, facilitation and capacity building, industry development and rural social research.

Her 2006 report; 'A Responsive Training Market: the role of brokers' has delivered important benefits to rural industry via government and non-government initiatives. The report identifies new ways to match needs to training and provides step by step instructions on how to broker change effectively.

Amabel is involved in a range of national programs working with Simplot Australia and the National Landcare Program to encourage sustainable water management on vegetable farms. She has also been actively involved with Horticulture Australia and Meat & Livestock Australia on the project 'Coordinating Business Services'; a national network of rural service brokers, and in the delivery and evaluation of FarmSAT with the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association. Amabel is a member of the Regional Women's Advisory Council and is enrolled in the Australian Institute of Company Director's Course.


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