Leading woman in agriculture – Lindell Andrews

In 2019, Lindell Andrews took the lead role on one of the most significant projects in the South Australian livestock industry’s history – the SA Dog Fence Rebuild Project. This five-year project, currently in its third year, is rebuilding around two thirds of the 100 year-old, 2,150 kilometre structure.

Lindell’s ambition for the success of the project and her dedication to South Australia’s drought and wild dog impacted pastoral sheep industry, has created and driven a fence replacement program that exceeds industry standards and community expectations.

Just 3 years ago, nobody in the pastoral industry would have even dreamt that a rebuild of this scale was possible.

At the end of 2018, the South Australian pastoral sheep industry was devastated by the impacts of drought and wild dogs. Individual properties were reporting stock losses exceeding 2,000 sheep per year to wild dog attacks. The South Australian Dog Fence was failing, most of it was over 100 years old, it was brittle and dilapidated; it needed a once-in-a generation investment to replace substantial sections and protect primary producers once more.

Lindell Andrews was instrumental in the development of a funding proposal that partnered the livestock industry, and the South Australian and Commonwealth governments. Together they pooled $25 million towards the rebuild of 1,600 kilometres (two-thirds) of the 2,150-kilometre long fence.

Lindell also supported the formation of a rebuild steering committee, which comprises members from eight of South Australia’s most important Dog Fence Stakeholder groups. The committee oversees decisions on fence design and project implementation.

Lindell planned and led an information-gathering trips for the committee to investigate and analyse current vermin fencing systems in Queensland and South Australia. This exercise resulted in an industry leading fence standard, which is both cost efficient and effective as a wild dog barrier.

Lindell has developed effective working relationships with a national panel of fencing contractors and material suppliers, with whom she engages to rebuild sections of the fence ranging from 50 to 200 kilometres.

What makes Lindell’s achievements astounding are the hurdles she has overcome in delivering this project. Challenges include the location of the fence – it is arid, rugged and remote, and of course the impacts from Covid-19 have compounded all hurdles.

Other issues include rain (both at construction site and impeding deliveries interstate – several flooding events in the outback were also unforeseen); wharf strikes; container shortages; pollution restrictions affecting imported materials; site delivery issues; availability of materials; and increasing steel prices.

Under Lindell’s leadership 615 kilometres of the Rebuild Project have since been completed or are under construction. Already, the project has returned over 6,000 square kilometres of wild dog impacted pastoral lands back to productive sheep country. Thanks to Lindell’s ambition, leadership, and determination, sheep producers are reporting fewer wild dogs and more lambs; producers are also sleeping better at night.

Lindell’s ability to lead and excel in a male-dominated industry made her eminently worthy of the Women – Diversity in Fencing award for the Australian FENCING Awards 2021.