The History of WISA

Traditionally there has been little emphasis placed on the role and contribution of women working in and with the seafood industry. Investing resources in women - advocating for gender equality, building capabilities, capacities and networks - is shown to improve organisations working conditions, performance and wellbeing of all. 

During 1996 and 1997 a group of women associated with the South Australian commercial fishing industry  began working together to address the situation. This resulted in the formulation of the South Australian Women’s Industry Network (SA WIN).

In February of 1998, SA WIN hosted a Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) sponsored workshop entitled ‘Capitalising on the Talents of Women in the South Australian Fishing Industry’, FRDC Project 1997/348. One of the results of the workshop was the development of a four-point Action Plan for future operations of the network so that it might best serve the needs of the seafood industry nationally. In June 2000, the national Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community was formed and incorporated as a Registrable Australian Body.

In 2016 WINSC hosted a FRDC sponsored workshop entitled ‘Providing Pathways for the Involvement of Women in the Seafood Industry Development - Shaping a New Community for Seafood, FRDC Project 2016/409’. The findings of this report were then workshopped in Melbourne in early 2018. This resulted in a commitment to ‘make the change happen’ and work towards a more dynamic and appealing organisation, culminating in a new logo and name, Women in Seafood Australasia (WISA).

In October 2018 WINSC held its 20th Anniversary Gala Dinner in Adelaide (where it all began) along with a ‘Stronger Seafood Communities’ workshop. Twenty women were inducted into the WISA Honour Roll. The new name of our organisation was unveiled, Women in Seafood Australasia (WISA) with plans for the WISA renewal.

In line with the not-for-profit organisations facing more demand for structure, accountability and transparency, increasing public and government expectations, and WISA’s planned expansion of activities nationally, WISA transitioned to a new legal structure in 2022. In July 2022, WISA transitioned to a Company Limited by Guarantee, governed by the Corporations Act 2001 and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). In January 2022, WISA also moved from an entirely volunteer-run organisation to employing its inaugural Executive Officer.

Today, WISA is the only national organisation in Australia which represents the women of the seafood industry. It provides a unique network and role in untapping a valuable resource for the seafood industry.

WISA has strong partnerships with the agriculture and rural sectors, including being a founding member of the National Rural Women’s Coalition (NRWC), federal, state and territory governments, peak seafood industry bodies and associations, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and research and development institutions. WISA work closely with Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) and are partners to the Stay Afloat program which supports mental health and wellbeing in the industry. 

WISA take a practical and grass roots approach to the professional development of women and raising the profile of women involved in the seafood industry. Through WISA communications channels, we provide support, encouragement and the dissemination of information to seafood women members. 

Seafood women want to be more visibly active and involved in the industry. Gender-specific groups aid the initial development of networks, and creates a safe learning environment and advocacy space. Experiential learning increases the likelihood of long-term change.

Increasing the capacity of seafood women will result in a positive contribution to the industry as a whole. In order to maximise opportunities for seafood women. Therefore, WISA seeks funding to support WISA operations and projects to provide valuable outcomes for seafood women. However, gender inequality is not only about ‘fixing women’. Women in our industry experience barriers at all levels and it is WISA’s aim is to create a more inclusive industry that values, supports and listens to women. To do this we need industry to get behind WISA and champion our work. WISA believe a more inclusive and diverse industry improves working conditions, performance and wellbeing of all.

1996

South Australian Women's Industry Network formed

1996

2000

National Women's Industry Network Seafood Community was formed

2018

New name Women in Seafood Australia (WISA)

2018

2022

WISA transitioned to Company Limited by Guarantee & appointed inaugural Executive Officer

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WISA is working towards ways to better connect with their members and all seafood women across the Australasian Seafood Industry.

Contact us

Kirsten Abernethy – Executive Officer
Email: eo@womeninseafood.org.au
Phone: 0413 039 421

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WISA acknowledge and respect the Traditional Owners of these lands and waters and their continuing connections, their stories, traditions and living cultures and the contribution to the life and spirit of our communities across Australia. We extend our respect to past, present and future Elders of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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