December 2020
The “AOA Update” is a periodic e-newsletter from the AOA Board to keep AOA members and the wider olive industry up-to-date with the strategic and operational aspects of the Association. Feedback is encouraged via email to
President's Message

Dear Members,
This year has certainly been difficult on many fronts. COVID, bushfires, the tail end of the drought and subsequent low yields have ensured this year is one that that we would all rather forget. 
As the health risks of COVID to the national population are hopefully set to ease in 2021 and the economy bouncing back to some degree, a positive outlook is gladly held on to as we approach the end of the year.
With positive reports, the fruit set for the 2021 harvest is promising across many regions of the country. A quiet confidence prevails that we will endure the present difficulties to emerge a stronger industry in 2021.
The AOA has stood up to many challenges this year as it continues serving and representing the industry. With Zoom and other digital platforms becoming a new norm for communication, we were able to deliver an exceptional webinar program. Our virtual conference was very well received and the innovation accomplished to ensure the Australian International Olive Awards (AIOA) had a truly international focus is a credit to all involved.
I’d like to thank the entire board of directors for all of their contributions this year as well as the working team led by CEO Greg Seymour: Elizabeth Bouzoudis Administration Manager; Peter McFarlane with his outstanding work across OliveCare, chemical permits, biosecurity and more; Gerri Nelligan for all the regular communications we receive which are always of great quality and relevance; and Trudie Michels on the tremendous result of the AIOA despite the many logistical challenges faced with the revised processes this year. 
I’d also like to thank all of the volunteers that have worked behind the scenes: AIOA Head Judge Shane Cummins, AIOA judges and stewards and others who have made tremendous efforts under difficult circumstances this year.
I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in person next year at the Soil Field Days during February and March.
Merry Christmas and have a safe and happy New Year.

Michael Thomsett 
CEO's Message
As the year draws to a close its worthwhile reflecting on some of the positives that have emerged from what, for many, was a devastating 12 months dominated by drought and low production, bushfires, and the global pandemic.

The underlying positive theme was the courage, tenacity, creativity and hard work of our members and service providers in the face of adversity. I marvelled at how Olives South Australia rallied around those affected by bushfires in the Adelaide Hills; how individuals responded quickly and creatively to the loss of markets almost overnight due to COVID restrictions; how Trudie Michels and her team found news ways to enable the AIOA competition to not only go ahead, but further enhance the quality of this world class event; and the way the AOA engine room innovated and adapted quickly to provide information and services to support members and the industry to cope with a COVID world.

We have learnt new things about ourselves, the organisation, and the people around us. We learnt new ways to look at situations, and we developed new ways of doing things in a new operating environment. We learnt new skills and cooperative models that we will continue to use as part of operations in the coming years. They will change the way we do things for the better so that the world we knew in 2019 will become a distant memory (not something that we return to post-COVID).

While all these things have helped us to survive 2020, I sense they have given a quiet confidence to individuals, groups, industries, communities, and Australia as a nation, that will enable us to rebound quickly and kick on strongly in 2021.

Thanks to the AOA Board for their support and encouragement throughout the year to help ensure we did everything possible to support our members during tough times. Members and the wider industry can be thankful we have such a dedicated and talented group overseeing an organization dedicated to the ongoing development of the olive industry in Australia.

Liz Bouzoudis, Peter McFarlane, and Gerri Nelligan are the "engine room” of the AOA. They are a talented crew who worked together and as individuals to ensure high quality services were delivered on-time, every time for members throughout the year. I thank them for their professional efforts and for consistently stepping-up under pressure in a highly unpredictable operating environment.

I trust everyone has a well-deserved rest over the festive season. I know I am looking forward to it. I hope you make time to relax with family and friends, reflect on the important things in life, and how lucky we are to live in a country like Australia. 

I look forward to seeing you all at the field days in February and March next year. Until then stay safe and healthy.

Greg Seymour
New Directors for AOA Board 

The recent nominations for AOA Directors in Tasmania, Victoria, and the Large Enterprise Group (LEG) saw Christine Mann (TAS), Tina Knight (VIC), and Lisa Rowntree (LEG) appointed for a three year term. Retiring director Rita Bikins, did not seek reappointment.

Vanessa Dart - a grower from Hampton, OLD (near Toowoomba) - was a appointed to fill a casual vacancy for Queensland.

Chairman, Michael Thomsett, welcomed the new and returning directors to the Board and thanked Rita for her excellent contribution to the Board and the industry during her term as a director. The composition of the 2020/21 Board is:

Michael Thomsett – Independent Chair
Andrew Burgess – LEG and Deputy Chair
Christine Mann – TAS
Tina Knight – VIC
Mick Ryan – WA
Kent Hallett – SA
Lisa Rowntree – LEG
Peter Herborn – NSW
Paul Miller – LEG
Vanessa Dart – Casual Vacancy (QLD)
Nominations for WA, QLD and one LEG will occur prior to the 2021 AGM with the directors appointed to serve a three year term.
Advocacy and Representation
While some things have dropped off the radar during COVID, activity by government and regulators seemed to have accelerated. The AOA has participated in (way too many) Zoom meetings on issues ranging from the EU_AU Free Trade Agreement, the UK_AU Free Trade Agreement, FSANZ and the future food regulation in Australia, PHA Health Australia (PHA) in relation to biosecurity legal requirements, the ONE CRC bid.

The Association has made formal submissions/representations to the review of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991, the CoOL Review, PHA re Biosecurity threat, Hort Innovation, and the Commonwealth Government on Codex, the World Customs Organization, water policy and several other minor items.

2021 is shaping up as a very big year for AOA advocacy.
AOA Activities and Initiatives
2020 Virtual Conference Videos
A total of 212 delegates attended the AOA conference online in October. Feedback from delegates was very positive but really reiterated the importance of being able to meet face-to-face. We are hoping that translates into a big turn-out for the 2021 conference in Devonport next October. With planning almost done already, a great event is assured. The lure of a holiday in Tasmania before or after the conference means 2021 will be the year to attend.

Videos of all the 2020 Virtual Conference sessions have been posted to the OliveBiz website. They are now available for viewing for free by all AOA members - even those who did not register for the conference. Non-members are required to pay $33/day session or $100 for all sessions. Click here to go to the conference video site. 
AIOA PR and Results Booklet
While the celebrations associated with the Australian International Olive Awards (AIOA) have died down, the impact of the PR the AOA has generated from the event lives on in hardcopy and digital media. Winners and the results booklet are still receiving widespread coverage in national and regional media and in many foodie blogs.

Members can access a digital copy of the booklet here or email for a hard copy to be posted out.
Healthy Soils Field Day Schedule Announced
December 2020 Olivegrower & Processor out soon – do you have a subscription?
The December edition of Olivegrower & Processor will be hitting mailboxes in the next couple of weeks. It features:
  • Mega coverage of the 2020 AIOA, including the first in a series of winners’ profiles
  • Cyber security – it’s your business
  • 2020 AOA National Conference wrap
  • Irrigation: review of industry resources and updated management information
  • Spotlight on Anthracnose

Along with updates on levy R&D projects, tips to ensure product quality and more, it’s a cover-to-cover read to support your olive business.

If you don’t have a subscription ($40/year for AOA members) click here or contact Liz or 0478 606 145.