Australian champion netballer, Laura Geitz, urges consumers to think about the Aussie farmers behind the food on our dinner plates

Former Australian netball captain and Commonwealth Games medallist, Laura Geitz, is trading sport shoes for farm boots, urging Australians to stop and think about where the food on their dinner plates come from, as Rural Aid launches its major annual fundraising campaign – Mates Day.

In the lead up to Mates Day celebrations on Wednesday 20 March, farmers will share the often challenging and unseen journey behind their produce before it makes its way to consumer’s dinner plates under this year’s campaign theme Every plate tells a story’.

After spending what Laura describes as an ‘incredible childhood’ on her family’s 607-hectare cattle and grain property at Allora on Queensland’s Darling Downs, the retired sports star and mum of four said she was very grateful to come on board as official Ambassador for Rural Aid’s Mates Day 2024 Campaign.

“I’ve had a connection with Rural Aid in the past and love what they stand for and what they do,” Laura said.

“Supporting farmers in crisis, whether it be through droughts, floods, bushfires or anything else that happens in the world of agriculture is wonderful and wholesome work to be involved in.

“There are extremes that farmers are constantly battling with, and we speak so much about raising awareness of what our farmers do for us. And for me, this is a perfect way of raising that awareness.”

Each evening Laura, her husband Mark and their four children sit down for the family meal where they each take turns around the table to share the best thing that happened to them during the day. Laura describes it as wonderful family time, however said she recently thought about changing the format to question the story behind their food on the dinner plate.

“I was thinking the other day, wouldn’t it be amazing to actually sit down and look at your food on your plate and ask where do you think that came from? Wonder what the farmer had to go through to get that steak or sausage or broccoli on the plate,” she said.

“Let’s start having the conversation around that because none of us do that. We take it completely for granted that we can zip down to the shops, grab what we want, get home, dish it out, or we call Uber Eats, it arrives and we eat these beautiful meals, but let’s strip it back a bit.

“We really need to be asking where does that food come from? It comes from these farmers that are absolutely bending over backwards, battling with market prices, battling with the elements to actually dish that up on our plates.

“The majority of us have absolutely no concept of what they’re going through to allow us to sit down and eat a meal.”

Celebrating Australian farmers and recognising the challenges

As part of the Mates Day Campaign, Rural Aid’s Chief Executive Officer, John Warlters, said it was also an important time to celebrate Australian farmers.

“We should celebrate Australian farmers for many reasons,” John said.

“Firstly, because they’re the best in the world, secondly because they feed us and thirdly because of the amazing food and produce that comes through their energies and efforts.

“Every plate tells a story because the food on it speaks to us about the freshness, the trust and confidence we can have that the food on our plates is nutritious and healthy – it’s the world’s best.”

However, Mr Warlters said the story about what’s not on the plate also needs to be considered.

“Lettuce suddenly becomes a $12 lettuce, or we can’t get those potato chips on our plate because our potato crops have been wiped out, or the cost of a lamb chop goes up through the cost-of-living crisis,” he said.

“We then see another story told on our plate.

“But at the end of the day, food is our lifeline. It’s what nourishes us. And it’s our farmers who do that incredible work for us.”

Support Australian farmers by supporting Mates Day

With many farmers across Australia now facing impacts from multiple natural disaster events, the nature and frequency of requests for support from Rural Aid is changing rapidly.

John Warlters said the mental health issue is one of the big challenges confronting rural and regional Australia, which Rural Aid helps to provide support a range of ways.

“When we deliver fodder to families to help them feed their livestock, it’s also the mental wellbeing piece that gets addressed through that process as well. People understand that someone else cares for them and wants to make a difference,” John said.

“When it becomes a more acute conversation, we’re also there to play that role to have an ongoing relationship with people to help them through their challenges. And where we can’t provide the support that people need, we have some clearly defined referral paths to connect them with another organisation that might have a greater skill set in that particular area.”

Growing up on the farm at Allora, Laura is acutely aware of the challenges farmers face every day and recognises the lifeline Rural Aid offers to farmers and rural communities wasn’t always there.

“Rural Aid is just about helping the farmer, and that’s what I love most about them – they’re there for a farmer when they need them,” she said.

“I feel like there’s an opportunity to put your hand up and say we need some help, and they’re more than happy to be there to help, whether that’s through drought, bushfires, flooding or just having someone to talk to.

“Rural Aid’s Mates Day is a great opportunity to support Aussie farmers and to stop and realise exactly what they do for us.

“If you’ve got ties to agriculture, that’s great. But if you don’t, I think it’s just this opportunity to be able to donate and help our mates in the bush and thank them for what they do for us.

“Because they do something for us every single day by putting food on the table.”

To support Rural Aid’s Mates Day Campaign or to make a donation, visit All donations received will contribute to the important work Rural Aid is undertaking in rural and regional communities and supporting Australian farmers.

Media enquiries:

Kate Scott
0438 389 092

Stacey Wordsworth
0438 394 371

About Rural Aid 
Rural Aid is Australia’s most trusted rural charity. We stand with our farmers when they need us most. Rural Aid provides critical support to farmers affected by natural disaster through financial, wellbeing and fodder assistance. Rural Aid’s community programs help create more sustainable communities by building stronger futures for all Australian farmers. Find out more at 

The Land
Farming Ahead
Queensland Country Life