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Beyond the Bale : September 2015
Seven young people have been given the opportunity to learn the practical agricultural skills needed to help them get jobs on rural properties, thanks to the new hands-on educational course being run in the western Riverina district of NSW with support from AWI. Established last year, Hay Incorporated launched the Hay Rural Education Program in response to concerns about the decline in the traditional jackaroo system and the associated lack of stock and other essential rural skills being handed down to the younger generation. Hay Incorporated Chairman Chris Bowman said the program is providing young people in the region with the skills that will make them more employable. "The falling number of jackaroos in recent times when a lot of properties were sold, in conjunction with the increased use of contract labour, resulted in a lack of young people with the proper training to get a job," Mr Bowman said. "The new program, with the help of properties around Hay, aims to help reverse this trend. We have had wonderful support from farmers and volunteers in the district offering practical and in-kind support like yards, stock and quarters; plus generous financial contributions from several individuals and organisations including AWI and Tocal College." The program focuses on wool and livestock production (both sheep and cattle) with the key aspects of production delivered in a practical setting in partnership with woolgrowers throughout the Hay district. It is delivered by trainers who have many years of experience on extensive rural properties. The inaugural year's program was a three-week course, in three blocks of five days' training spread over a nine month period, covering a range of topics based around the production calendar for sheep, wool production and cattle. The first week of training was in November last year and included work health and safety, first aid, sheep handling at Michael Field's 'Wyvern' property at Carrathool, pregnancy scanning, and working dog training at Shear Outback with Ed McFarland. In March, training included small engine and motor bike maintenance with Les Lewis of Les' Mobile Repairs, a Level 2 chemical application course, on-farm stock water repairs and maintenance by Roly Desailly and Noel Corliss at Hazeldean's 'Rosevale' property. The final three days were spent learning wool harvesting and wool shed management at Paraway Pastoral's 'Steam Plains' station. From this group, two trainees were invited to stay on at Steam Plains to undertake a two-week shearing course. In June, training included fence construction and maintenance with Sandy Symons at 'Rosevale', sheep (and lamb) handling and lamb marking at Ben and Cate Barlow's 'Ulonga' station, Merino assessment and classing with Chris Bowman at the Bell family's 'Mulberrygong', and prime lamb assessment and nutrition at Rowan Houston's 'Benduck' property. The final week of training concluded at the Hay Sheep Show on 13 June where trainees learnt about sheep judging and then competed in the Junior Judging Competition. AWI's Stuart Hodgson also assisted at several of the training days. The seven participants, all from the local region, completed the course and were presented with their graduation certificates at the Hay Sheep Show in June by AWI CEO Stuart McCullough. "Our funding in programs like this aims to improve the engagement of young people interested in the wool industry, thereby developing and retaining the skills the wool industry needs to be innovative in response to new challenges," Mr McCullough said. "We are committed to supporting training programs for young people, and we will be providing funding to enable this particular program to continue next year." MORE INFORMATION • People interested in applying to join the program should contact the program coordinator Sandra Ireson: 0439 938 119, hayincorporated gmail.com • ABC Landline's 5 July program -- view it at www.abc.net.au/landline A new rural training program in the Hay district of NSW is helping young people gain agricultural skills, education and experience. HANDS-ON RURAL TRAINING AT HAY Cameron Clarke demonstrates scanning to the trainees. PHOTO: Natalie O'Leary, Tocal College.