Life on the land inspires 2018 Citizen
As a fifth generation farmer, Belinda-Jane Davis knows first-hand the effects of drought.
The Maitland Mercury journalist was named the city’s 2018 Citizen of the Year on Australia Day, after her activism for struggling farmers went nationwide as a result of her work.
“Maitland has always been one of those ‘we can do it’ communities, and I think that’s why the drought campaign started here and that’s why it was so successful, because the community supported it,” she said.
“They realised that if everyone does their bit, together that makes an amazing impact.”
The campaign is now almost a year old and has seen millions of dollars of aid distributed, but it is not close to over.
“Conditions are still very severe in a lot of parts of the state [and] we need to keep the farmers in our hearts,” Ms Davis said.
“This isn’t just about our farmers – this is about our entire food system and food security, which is important to everyone, whether you’re on the land or whether you’re not.”
Ms Davis has already received a Walkley Award for her work, but said she humbled by the local honour.
“It’s an incredibly lovely honour that the community has bestowed on me,” she said.
“The calibre of the other nominees was absolutely amazing.
“Everyone, in their own way, is doing what they can to make this community a better place.”