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Beyond the Bale : June 2015
YOUNG SHEARERS MAKE THE CUT Eight eager youngsters from Boorowa, Murringo and Taralga on the South West Slopes of NSW recently attended the first shearing and wool handling development course organised by the newly established Boorowa Wool Harvesting Association (BWHA). The independent organisation was set up in July 2014 by members of the local Boorowa community with the aim to encourage and enable more budding young shearers living in the region to enter the wool industry and give them the skills to succeed in it. The course in March was held at the ‘Burrowa Hills’ property of Ross Dwyer who generously provided the shed and the sheep free of charge for the training. AWI supported the course by providing funds for the training, and the BWHA provided the handpieces for the students to use on the course. The students, aged from 16 to 21, were taught skills in shearing, wool handling, penning up, catching and dragging sheep out onto the board for shearing, grinding tools for shearing, work health and safety practices, personal health, exercise and maintaining their own well-being. Locally born and bred Ian Elkins, who was recently inducted into the Australian Shearers’ Hall of Fame, was the course instructor and coordinator. Ian is also a board member of the BWHA. “The course went really well,” Ian said. “Although a week isn’t a long time, we managed to give them a lot of hands-on experience and a real taste for the industry. They were all really keen and good learners. I reckon they’ll do well in the shearing industry.” Along with Ian, the idea to set up an organisation to encourage and support budding shearers came from fellow Boorowa local Leanne Croker, whose family has a long history of working in the shearing and wool handling industry. For the past three years Leanne and Ian have been working with local businesses from the Boorowa region, shearing contractors, stud owners and AWI to raise funds to create the training courses and upgrade infrastructure in the district. “Ian and I could see over time that there was a decrease in the number of young people interested in becoming a shearer or wool handler after leaving high school,” Leanne said. “With Ian’s help I wanted to gather community support to change the perception of youngsters in my own community and give them the opportunity to train, work and succeed in the wool industry. “While people can learn to shear in a shed environment with no official education and training, in order to improve their skills – and ensure good quality before quantity of sheep shearing – we must provide educational opportunities with people like Ian Elkins and other experienced instructors, so these young people can be the best at their game.” Leanne says that in the past six months the NSW TAFE non-concessional fees for shearing courses have increased significantly, resulting in many students now unable to attend the TAFE courses due to financial difficulty. “Over the long term this lack of training opportunities at TAFE will have a Novice shearers at the recent AWI-funded training course. Marshall Andrews, Tom Hurley, Kristoffer Halls, Jacob Carmody, William Stanley, course instructor and coordinator Ian Elkins, ‘Burrowa Hills’ manager Bill Stanley, Dominic Parkman, Mark Veness and Brody Tiyce. PHOTOS: Natalie Tarry Personality Plus Photography The newly established Boorowa Wool Harvesting Association, with support from AWI, is helping attract young people in the region to the wool industry and provide a kickstart to their career.