Land Rights News Central Australia: Land Rights News (April 2010)

Published: April, 2010

Cattlemen building their skills

Ten men from around Central Australia undertook a two week pastoral training course at the Bonning Stockyards south of Alice Springs in April. They were trained in safety around horses, starting horses, occupational, health and safety on stations and animal welfare.

The NTCA’s Tony Freshwater said the training is helping to bring benefits to the industry on two fronts – building up the capacity of the participants themselves and filling a skills gap on stations in the Northern Territory.

“They all seem pretty happy,” Mr Freshwater said. “They may not realise it but this is first rate training they’re receiving. We’re not just going down the path of token training here.

“Some of these blokes have been around the traps for a while. The gap in our workforce is a third or fourth year ringer. It’s about filling that third year gap.

“Our focus is on those blokes who’ve got a bit of experience. Not just so they can get a job and stay in it but climb up the ladder.”

Mr Freshwater said numeracy and literacy training is also provided to help the young stockmen advance rather than remain at the one level and in 10 years be receiving orders from someone younger than them. He said the partnership with the CLC is working well.

“It’s been great for us working with the land council, the employment unit’s done a lot of work identifying these blokes and getting them here,” Mr Freshwater said. “The CLC has done a heap on this and it’s a great partnership.”

Project officer with the CLC’s employment unit, Becky Mack, said the Land Council recruited the participants and is helping to mentor them.

“We’ve been spending days with them, helping them out with the organisation of a variety of matters, having dinner with them, working through any issues they have,” she said. “Just generally helping them build their confidence to go out there and continue with it.

“It’s been a good partnership with both the NTCA and CLC aiming for the same thing, which is getting Indigenous people employed in the pastoral industry and keeping them there.”

Trainer Geoff Twombey said he’d been impressed by the men taking on the course.

“We’re teaching them basic horsemanship but we’re also teaching them, horses are more or less just a vehicle, they’re learning a lot about themselves as they go through this,” he said.

“That’s the secret of it and we’re trying to give them enough skills so they can go into jobs and stick it out and make it better for their own communities and better for themselves to make something out of their lives.”

One of those blokes, Jason Davey, who has been working on Tanami Downs said he was having a second go at the course.

“I’ve been around a couple of other stations for three years, this one here will make it four,” he said. “Done a bit of this last year and so I’ve come back to do it again. Just to learn a bit more stuff before I go back to work.”

Mr Davey said he was enjoying his time at Tanamai Downs.

“It’s a good place,” he said. “I hate just sitting around. Finally doing something.”

Caleb Anderson from Tennant Creek is only 17-years-old but said he enjoys working on stations.

“Been doing it for good enough three years now. Some of my mates, I tell them get out working. Get em out of town it’s no good (just staying in town),” he said.

Justin Dickerson is also from Tennant Creek and is another who points to the benefits of keeping busy working.

“You keep out of trouble in town,” he suggested. He said his family is clear on their opinion.

“(They say) Go back out and work, make money for yourself. They encourage.”

Eight of the 10 participants in the course have jobs at Neautral Junction, Deep Well, Atula and Tanami Downs stations. Other Tennant Creek graduates from an earlier course organised in the Top End are working on Victoria River Downs.