Kimberley Cattlemen’s Association
Catherine Marriott is the Executive Officer of the Kimberley Cattlemen’s Association. Her job is to maximise the production potential of northern beef across the Kimberley and the Pilbara, and this morning she has the unenviable task of writing a land tenure reform submission. “There’s no ‘worst part’ of the job,” she laughs, “but when you love it as much I do, it’s easy to work too hard.”
Unusually for someone raised in distant Victoria, Catherine is no stranger to the Kimberley or the people who live here.
“Broome is my soul country,” she says by way of explanation. “I absolutely love this place. I’ve always belonged here.
I tried to go back to Victoria and it just didn’t work. When I told my family I was moving here, Mum said, ‘I knew something was up. I haven’t seen you smile like that for a long time.’ And I think a lot of it comes from this work; I’ve always been passionate about the northern beef industry.”
She laughs again when asked about a ‘typical day’ in her job. The last six weeks have taken her from the Kimberley to Pakistan, twice to Alice Springs, and across to Sydney and Melbourne. “That’s why I love it!” she says. “There’s no such thing as a typical day. It’s such a diverse industry, you really have to get out and talk to all sorts to get the information you need – and then bring it back to help grow the industry.”
Catherine sees huge opportunities in Broome. “In my industry there’s big potential to set up a more cohesive value chain, where feedback goes all the way back to producers so they can improve the way they run things – in bull buying, for example. There’s a lot of competition and it can be hard to open up that communication and get everyone to share everything that comes along the value chain. But I know there’s a big future here if we can get it right.”
Before joining KCA, Catherine ran Influential Women, an organisation which builds confidence, capacity and skills in women in rural areas. Her community focus is never far from the surface.
“Leadership is something we can really work on. We have great, quality people in the industry and we’re so close to Indonesia and the rest of Asia – there’s such great potential for new relationships. And there’s a lot of scope from an agricultural point of view as well. I’d love to see industry working respectfully with traditional land owners in this area because I think there’s a lot to be gained for everyone.”
And for Broome itself? “I love seeing businesses like The Good Cartel and the Lock Up. They’re looking at news ways of using what we’ve already got here in Broome. And there’s so much we could be doing with the businesses in town. Pop-up spaces for local artisans could really help with the empty shops. It’s worked in other towns like Mildura and it has huge benefits for everyone – landlords, councils and the artisans themselves.”