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Beyond the Bale : September November 2009
16 September -- November2009 BEYOND THE BALE SHEARER TRAINING Mustering city wool handlers for the bush The shearing sheds of Bollon in Queensland are quite literally a world away from Burma and Burundi, but 10 former refugees from these countries recently spent two weeks at 'Cashel Vale' station, near Bollon, in a pilot 'City to the Bush' program that aims to give people shearing and wool-handling skills, and reduce rural labour shortages. This is the first time immigrants have taken part in the program. It has been run for the past five years by AWI, the Australian Agricultural College Corporation at Longreach and the Queensland Rural Industry Training Council for street kids and the unemployed. The program has had a high success rate with three-quarters of course participants entering the shearing industry. After two weeks of wool handling, drenching and yard work, such as drafting and penning-up sheep, 10 students received a Certificate II in Wool Handling. Another group of workers from Toowoomba, Charleville, Mackay and Cunnamulla already working in the industry were also at Bollon for two weeks, improving their shearing skills. Two completed a Certificate II in Crutching and Shearing; five completed a Certificate III in Shearing. Bollon shearing contractor Ian Bateman, who has been involved with industry training for a number of years, helps organise City to the Bush programs. Mr Bateman said his contracting business was continually four to five people short of workers. "There are not enough young people coming into the industry to replace those retiring," Ian says. "Programs such as these are a stop-gap to the labour shortage problem. Some take it on and for others it won't be their cup of tea. "Out of the seven shearers in this program though, I'll be taking on four of them and the other three will be working for other shearing contractors." Ian, who has shorn in France, Ireland, Canada, England and New Zealand, said money, friendship and a great life has kept people in the industry. "A good shearer can earn around $120,000 to $150,000 and wool handlers around $45,000." Shearing trainer Mick Nancarrow and wool-handling trainer Erin Wissemann, who were conducting the training at 'Cashel Vale', have both represented Queensland in their professions and worked overseas. Erin's father was a shearer and ran a sheep property in Tara. She would spend her school holidays in the sheds and came back to the industry after working in college administration and with the police. "When it comes to the training, I love watching people develop a skill; to stand back and see it gives me goose bumps," Erin says. KEY POINTS l AWI is committed to reducing the costs and improving the quality of harvested wool through shearer and wool-handler training initiatives. l A 'City to the Bush' program is providing participants with shearing and wool-handling skills, while also reducing rural labour shortages. l The program has had a high success rate with 75 per cent of course participants entering the shearing industry. Former African and Burmese refugees learn the life of the shearing sheds at Bollon, Queensland: (back row from left) Samuel Bivakumuremyi, Htoo Wah Gay, Tbrahim Nsengiymaua, Ko Reh, Washington Nkurunziza, Klee Moo, Gota Bahanibanje; (front row from left) Maclene Nzigirabadya, Wy Cliff, Meitha Heisoe and wool-handling instructor Erin Wissemann. SHEARER AND WOOL HANDLER TRAINING AWI is committed to reducing the costs and improving the quality of the harvested fibre through shearer and wool-handler training initiatives. During 2009-10 AWI is providing the same amount of funding as last year to shearer and wool-handler training. AWI has reduced its operating costs in this area to allow more of these funds to be spent directly on training. AWI is funding training for 'improver' and professional shearers, as well as for novice and improver wool-handlers. Provided by registered training organisations, the training focuses on shearers and wool handlers in the shed, particularly on increasing their productivity and skill development. To find out more about the AWI training program and/or government- funded training initiatives, contact AWI's preferred training provider in your state. Apply now to avoid disappointment. AWI-PREFERRED SHEARING & WOOL-HANDLING TRAINING PROVIDERS STATE PROVIDER CONTACT NSW TAFE NSW -- Western Institute David Crean, 0419 422 340 Queensland QRITC Yvon Wigley, 1800 337 709 SA TAFE SA - Regional Bob Reid, 0427 604 255 Tasmania Primary Employers Tasmania Richard Leahy, 0438 265 753 Victoria SCAA Graham Shearer, 0427 435 244 WA CY O'Connor College of TAFE (Northern Region) Great Southern TAFE (Lower Southern Region) Stephen Madson, 0409 080 243 Peter Young, 08 9892 8840
June August 2009