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Community Profiles: Social Pioneer, Dr Robbie Van Hemert

“People are starting to realise their own power … the power to take change into their own hands.” – Dr Robbie van Hemert

Dr Robbie van Hemert from the Liverpool Plains in NSW is a shining example of the thousands of men and women taking charge, seeding and self-funding new solutions. 

“The world has changed,” reflects Robbie.

“Previously, the domain of social conscience and social change was filled by organisations that were well recognised brands, and people would donate to, or volunteer with them.

“But now, people are starting to realise their own power … the power to take change into their own hands and do it themselves in a manner that suits their ideals, their values and their passions,” she says.

Three years ago, despite having never undertaken such a venture, Robbie saw a way she could respond to the threats on Australia’s majestic food production sources. A threat she could not tolerate.

“All of my work comes back to a central premise of connecting people to a special place, because I believe connecting with a place is fundamental to caring for it.

“I want to raise people’s consciousness on the fragility of our environment and how that really knowing a place enables to you truly understand, care and hopefully protect that place.”

This became Robbie’s driving ambition – to meaningfully connect the next generation of young people with the Liverpool Plains food bowl, and to imprint upon their lives the sanctity of food source. 

By working with a top Australian curriculum writer, Robbie became the founder of popular school unit ‘Food Bowl Connection’ which is being taught into schools across Victoria, NSW and Queensland. The Food Bowl Connection name signifies the association between our own personal food bowl (the ones we eat from everyday) and the Liverpool Plains Food Bowl – the largest in Australia. 

Businesses who share Robbie’s passion are also jumping on board by supporting their local schools to have access to the education unit – a unique program that provides both equity and access, and gives local business owners a chance to give back to their former school, or a school they care about.

The unit has just passed its proof of concept stage and has quickly reached more than 3000 students in its first year. It is now Robbie’s quest for the unit to reach 30,000, and then ultimately 300,000 students worldwide.

“We have created a vehicle for learning that is adaptable to all cultures, all environments and students from a wide range of ages and backgrounds. 

“The unit not only helps them understand the importance of protecting the source of our food, but also encourages them to look after their own backyard.”

To enable this, Robbie is currently looking for a forward-thinking business leader who shares the vision and values of Food Bowl Connection, and to share the quest in making it easier for teachers to find the unit. 

“Once they find us, the teachers and also principals are loving what we have created. We have made their life so easy with this unit, and the students also love it.

Part of the experience for the students is to create a Logo for the Liverpool Plains, and be part of a National Design Competition ‘Brand Muster Awards’ where their logos are judged by a panel of formidable judges including celebrated foodie Josephine Perry (Neil Perry’s daughter) and celebrity chef Christine Mansfield.

It is clever and inspiring elements such as this that will capture the heart and mind of a national partner who can see the unit and design competition rolling out around the world. 

Robbie smiles at the thought of her personal journey inspiring others, and encourages other people to make sure they align any social purpose activities with their soul. 

“Understand what values inside you drive you to want to make social change, because you will need to draw on those values to overcome the inevitable obstacles and challenges that are part and parcel of any undertaking.”

DR ROBBIE VAN HEMERT, FOUNDER
FOOD RIVER STATION & FOOD BOWL CONNECTION, LIVERPOOL PLAINS, NSW

The Xfactor Collective is a community of pre-vetted specialist consultants who help social change makers achieve their social mission. We have a diverse range of specialists across 300+ areas of specialisation, and this article was written by our Specialist Consultant Julia Keady. To find out more about working with Julia, or how the Collective can help you, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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