Research Team

Dr Sarah Casey (preferred pronouns she/her)


Dr Sarah Casey leads the project. Sarah holds a PhD from Griffith University. She is the co-author of Media and Society (6th Edition), and Hashtag Feminisms: Australian media feminists, activism, and digital campaigns (forthcoming). 


Sarah was inspired to start working on rural projects as she comes from a Queensland farming family, and admires the strength of the people she has known all her life, but she has seen many people in the bush almost reach breaking point due to increasing challenges to life on the land. As such, Sarah is passionate about helping people to create off-farm income sources, and enabling them to stay in the regional, remote, and rural communities that they love.


Sarah also leads the Real Stories of Country Women and Real Rural Digital Solutions (partnered with Care Balonne) projects. Prior to working in academia, Sarah worked in Tokyo, then spent a decade working for large financial organisations, as well as in communication, in Australia and the UK. Sarah is the current Secretary (2021-) and immediate Vice-President (2018-2021) of the Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association, the national academic peak body for women’s and gender studies research. Her work about rural life has featured in academic publications, national media such as ABC Country Hour, as well as internationally in the Chicago Quarterly Review.


Sarah tweets at @sarahjcasey and at @feministingoz (with Dr Juliet Watson). 


Phone:  +61 7 5456 3544


USC profile



Dr Gail Crimmins (preferred pronouns she/her)


Dr Gail Crimmins is a Senior Lecturer and the Deputy Head (Learning and Teaching), School of Business and Creative Industries,  University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.


Gail is committed to supporting people and communities in regional and rural Australia who are impacted by severe weather events, and is passionate about gender equity. She worked on the Real Stories of Country Women project, a project designed to learn and share the coping strategies of women living in drought impacted areas of the Surat, Roma and Charleville regions of South West Queensland The project supported the development of a series of mini-documentaries which give voice to women in rural Australia.  She most recently worked alongside Dr Sarah Casey and colleagues at USC on Real Rural Digital Solutions designed to assist people in St George and Dirranbandi to develop or enhance their digital skills.


Phone: +61 7 5456 5954 


USC profile



Dr Saskia de Klerk (preferred pronouns she/her)


Dr. Saskia de Klerk is a Senior Lecturer and Higher Degree Coordinator at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. She also holds an extraordinary position as Associate Professor at North-West University, South Africa.


She is serving as topic editor and reviewer of several international reputed journals. She has successfully supervised Ph.D. students from across the globe. She teaches International Business, Cross-Cultural Management, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation.


Her research interests include mapping, developing, and advancing entrepreneurial and networking skills, and regional entrepreneurial ecosystems.  She is interested in supporting this transitioning to entrepreneurship in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, for Young people, women, immigrants, veterans, and other minority groups. She has authored many research articles/chapters and reports which can be viewed via Scopus Author ID: 24821208200, and ResearcherID: E-4832-2015.


Some previous research projects include:  

  • Food and Agriculture development.  
  • Entrepreneurial ecosystem benchmark projects (SCRIPT).  
  • The role and performance of accelerators in the Australian start-up ecosystem’ funded by the Australian Government, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS). 
  • “Immigrant entrepreneurship in ACT and NSW – critical skills development in innovation, business planning, and stakeholder management.”  
  • Women in Business leadership development projects funded by the National Research Fund and Women’s networks. 

Phone: +61 75459 4493


USC profile

LinkedIn profile

Dr Karen Hands (preferred pronouns she/her)


Karen is an experienced inter-disciplinary researcher, cultural strategist and grant writer with over twenty years’ professional experience in the creative industries and publishing sectors. 


Karen’s research focuses on the social and political aspects of the creative industries and placemaking through creative and cultural activities. Her research takes a dual scholarly-industry approach to exploring some critical issues facing the sectors. She has a professional background in publishing, event producing, and cultural organisation management, with a focus on strategic development. 

Karen has written and taught into undergraduate and post-graduate communications, media, arts, humanities, and literature courses and is a highly-regarded teacher, recently being a member of an online teaching team that was regarded as a national performance leader (OUA). Karen is a peer assessor for Arts Queensland and The Australia Council for The Arts. 


Phone: +61 7 5459 4823

Professor Jacqui Ewart (preferred pronouns she/her)


Professor Jacqui Ewart's research focuses on communication across various phases of disasters and the involvement of politicians in disasters. She also researches news media representations of various minority groups and has undertaken extensive research into radio audiences including talkback and community radio audiences. Her research has focused on regional news media and regional community formation.


Professor Ewart has held nationally competitive funding including $1.26 million for the award-winning Reporting Islam Project in which 1000 journalists, journalism educators and journalism students were trained in how to be more informed when covering stories about Muslims and their faith.


She has authored, co-authored and edited seven books, two of which were published in 2020 and is currently writing another sole authored book.


Professor Jacqui Ewart worked as a journalist in regional Queensland and as a media manager for more than a decade before joining academia where she has worked for the past 25 years. In recent years Professor Ewart has focussed on providing leadership to international communities of academics through mentoring and the publication of Managing Your Academic Research Project, Springer (2020). She lives in the Scenic Rim and enjoys gardening and spending time with her dogs.


Phone: +61 7 3735 4228


Professional work profile

LinkedIn profile

Twitter name: @jacquiewart

Partner Organisations

Project Partners

Robyn Fuhrmeister is the Chairperson and Manager at Care Balonne, St George. Care Balonne Association Inc. which is primarily an information and referral service covering the whole of the Balonne Shire.


Care Balonne was established by Balonne Shire Council in 1994 in the middle of a drought. Within the first twelve months management was offered to the community. The first program that was established was Rural Family Support which aided families who could not afford to come to town. Care Balonne has since assisted the shire during floods and long periods of drought as well as administering its other programs.  Cr Robyn Fuhrmeister is also a Balonne Shire Councillor. 2020 marked her 25th year of service to the Balonne Shire. She is passionate about preserving her community’s history and is on the committees of the St George and Bollon Heritage Centres.


Dr Penny Holliday is a researcher in Australian literature and cultural studies.


As a cultural geographer, her interests include fictional representations of place in Australian literature. She has taught across several universities in Queensland, most recently at USC. Penny is the co-founder of public reading groups within the QUT and USC Art Museums and is a curator of literary events within the gallery space. She is currently the Community Development Officer at Care Balonne, a community referral and information hub based in St George Qld which covers the whole of Balonne Shire, an area of 31000 square kilometres. Community needs are met via the Community Development Program, Rural Family Support program and The Active Seniors Program.

Media Team

Graphic and web design:

Katrin Terton


Podcast producers:

Seek + Deploy


Social media manager: 

Kirsty O'Callaghan


Photo credits:

Tracey Davies Photography and Sarah Southern