Riverine Plains ‘Mazz’ OAM

It’s now Catherine Marriott OAM. Photo by Les_Garbutt

“My passion is making or being around happy people because happy people are productive people. They make the world a much more vibrant and enjoyable place.”

That’s the view of farmer support group Riverine Plains Chief Executive Officer based in Mulwala, Ms Catherine Marriott.

Possessing such an impressive background, Ms Marriott was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to primary industry and regional development in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours list on Monday.

Popularly known as ‘Mazz’, the 41-year-old commenced duty at Riverine Plains in November 2020, having moved back to Victoria’s north-east from Western Australia.

“I’ve always been passionate about the rural community, agriculture in particular and me striving to find a leverage point that can make a difference – what can be achieved working together,” she told the Yarrawonga Chronicle/The Free Press.

“It’s amazing to be honoured – quite extraordinary because OAMs go to people who are extraordinary. I’m pretty speechless!

“You do what you need to do. The recognition or award that comes is not what I’m seeking. I get enjoyment out of what I do, that’s my reward without the formal recognition.”

Mazz’s background is extraordinary. Growing up on the family farm ‘Goomalibee’ – predominantly sheep but some cropping and agistment, between Benalla and Shepparton - was her introduction to agriculture.

Agriculture became Mazz’s passion and subsequent desire to “bring farmers together to share knowledge and experience”.

Tragedy, however, struck when just nine-years-old, she and her younger sisters aged five, six and seven years, lost their dad John.

“I lost my Dad to stomach cancer when he was 40. My mother (Cath) has been our rock and inspiration with her grit, determination and generosity. We did all sorts of jobs on the farm.”

A past student at The Scots School Albury, and a fundraiser for cancer research since 2002, Mazz was a top 10 individual fundraiser, Shave for a Cure, Leukaemia Foundation Queensland in 2006 and has raised an overall total of over $100,000. From 2011 to 2013 she was a volunteer ambulance officer with St Johns Ambulance, WA.

Chosen as the Rural Woman of the Year, Western Australian Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation in 2012, Mazz was Commissioner, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research from 2014 to 2020 and was inaugural CEO Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association from 2015 to 2017.

From 2017 to 2019 she a Shire of Broome councillor Senior Bushfire Recovery Manager, NSW Department of Primary Industries in 2020.

Although a resident of Yarrawonga for a short time, Mazz said: “I love Yarrawonga Mulwala which is rich with opportunity. There are a lot of innovators in the region and a passion to absolutely prosper. I’m keen to mix more in the community.”

Chair of Riverine Plains Ian Trevethan was full of praise for the OAM awardee. “Fantastic,” he said of Mazz’s selection. “Mazz has put a lot of effort into the primary sector.

“She’s inspiring a lot of future leaders with her ability and mentoring and having a major and positive influence.

“We’re thrilled to have her head up Riverine Plains; she’s doing great work and encouraging so many people. Her OAM is thoroughly deserving.”