Robbie honoured for service to ag, community
The Order of Australia, known as AM, is awarded to a person for merit in a specific place or field of activity, or to a specific group.
The achievements of the former locals are numerous and among those listed in their citation for honor is their service for the National Australia Day Council.
The AM was specifically awarded for “significant service to the agribusiness and community in a range of roles”.
From her humble beginnings on a farm in Morago to the largest boardrooms in the country, Robbie has lived a fabulous life.
But what makes her proudest is that she has remained true to her rural roots.
Robbie said she was “delighted” to be back in Deni on Australia Day and even stopped by the Conargo Pub on the way into town to rekindle old memories.
She remembered a red Subaru and a friend named Tracy who would take her on a crazy trip around Australia and discover a true passion in marketing.
With a bus ticket and $70, Robbie joined women she’d met along the way and dove headlong into the world of marketing.
There, she was thrust into high networking, big business, big money, and a career that would market and promote companies and industries close to her heart.
Today, Robbie leads a business that spans across Australia, empowering and advising rural and regional communities to influence policies and connections that are both complex and challenging.
“I’ve called rural and regional Australia home for much of my life, running farms in Western Australia and New South Wales with my husband Allister,” she said.
“I’ve also run my own rural, regional and farming communications business for many years, so I look at farming from the perspective of not just an entrepreneur but also a farmer,” she said.
“When I sit at boardrooms and government offices, I listen to producers, farm workers, suppliers and everyone in the industry and advocate for initiatives and opportunities that will advance the industry and help secure its future.
“It’s the future that keeps me interested and engaged because no matter how far we’ve come, there are still opportunities to become more productive and efficient as an industry and to truly cement our place on an increasingly competitive global stage.”
Robbie credits some of her strength and standing as a businesswoman to the love, support and guidance she received from her mother, Pam Sefton, especially after her father’s death.
Robbie Sefton (second left) led the independent assessment of the social and economic conditions of the Murray Darling Basin, which was provided to Deniliquin. She is pictured with (from left) counselor Hayley Purbrick, fellow panelists Bruce Simpson and Deborah Peterson, and counselor Phil Snowden. Photo by Zoe McMaugh
Speaking at Edward River Council’s Australia Day ceremony on Thursday, Robbie said it was a “huge surprise” to receive an AM.
“It was a tremendous honor, especially given the other honorees this year,” she said.
“Farming and rural and regional Australia have always been such a big part of my life and I’m so lucky I’m still inspired by my work – more importantly, by the people I meet and by the communities in which we operate . Especially in the Deni area.”
While her honor is still trickling in, Robbie says she is more aware of the importance of Australia Day than ever – especially given the debate surrounding the date of the national holiday.
“I’ve always been an enthusiastic supporter of Australians of the Year because I believe national recognition like this really uplifts us all and provides inspiring role models whose stories teach us so much and whose efforts have had a life-changing impact on many,” she said.
“For me, Australia Day is about celebrating who we are and what we stand for, whatever date we choose in the future.
“Each year it gives us an opportunity to pause and acknowledge the nation we live in and the unique qualities of our people, and allow everyone to celebrate in their own way.
“Receiving an AM for services to agriculture makes me so honored to be recognized alongside so many inspiring Australians.
“You don’t do what you do to be recognized. I know everyone says that, but it’s true.
“You do it because you love it and are passionate about it, and if you can make even a small gain for your community, that’s the greatest reward.”
Robbie’s many and varied achievements in her AM citation are listed under the subheadings Conservation, Community, National Australia Day Council and Career and Business.
The citation also acknowledges her previous awards and recognition, including a Local Regional Category Winner of the 100 Women of Influence Awards in 2015, a State Finalist in the Telstra Small Business Awards in 2011, and being named Rural Woman of the Year , Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation, in 2002.
In the area of conservation, Robbie is a board member for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Smarter Regions CRC, CRC for High Performance Soils and Watertrust Australia, among others.
Her responsibilities in the community include serving on Headspace, the Federal Government’s Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee, the NSW Government’s Visitor Task Force and as a board member of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.
She was also recognized for chairing the 2019-20 Murray Darling Basin Independent Assessment Panel on the Social and Economic Conditions of the Murray Darling Basin.
Robbie Sefton, Managing Director of Sefton & Associations (far left) with ERC Cr Harold Clapham, Liz Ritchie, CEO Regional Australia Institute, ERC Mayor Peta Betts and Crs Tarria Moore and Linda Fawns at the 2022 National Regions Rising Summit in Canberra.
Professionally, Robbie has not only been honored for her work with her own companies – Sefton & Associates and Nagandie Pastoral Company.
She was also known as a board member at Prime Media Group (2019-2020), Foundation Director at Graziers’ Investment Company (2007-2016), founding member of the National Rural Press Club and as a member of the Reserve Bank of Australian Small Business Finance Panel (2012- 2015) and Australian Tax Office Small Business Advisory Group (1998-2000).
In her role with the National Australia Day Council, Robbie served as its vice chair from 2014 to 2021 and was a board member from 2010 to 2014. She was also a board member of the NSW Australia Day Council from 2006 to 2011.