Meat industry opens doors

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeThe West Australian
Cameron Brechin and Claire McLeary.
Camera IconCameron Brechin and Claire McLeary. Credit: Cally Dupe

The red meat industry is booming and two Wheatbelt locals couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.

Cameron Brechin and Claire McLeary work at The Butcher’s Block in Corrigin as a butcher and meat inspector respectively.

The pair took out awards at the recent National Meat Industry Training Advisory Council Limited Meat Industry Training Awards in Queensland.

A former masseuse, Ms McLeary said her venture into the meat industry was somewhat of an “accident” almost three years ago.

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“It’s been a huge learning journey. I didn’t even know how to sharpen a knife (at the start),” she laughed.

“I started in admin but because we rely on travelling meat inspectors, I said ‘I can do that’.

“It was a lot of mornings getting up early before work, completing assignments, but I finished the two-year course in 10 months.”

Ms McLeary received the vocational student of the year award and Mr Brechin the Certificate II student of the year award.

She moved to Corrigin three years ago when her husband took on a role as a farm manager.

Mr Brechin, 19, has gained a solid reputation as young gun in Corrigin for his work as a butcher after starting at The Butcher’s Block in late 2014.

After completing a Certificate III in Agriculture at Narrogin Agricultural College, he moved to Corrigin to take on an apprenticeship.

He completed the qualification in two years and is now on track to become a meat inspector and quality assurance officer.

“Most of the case, it is that everyone wants to know that the animal they send in is in good hands,” Mr Brechin said.

“They can follow the entire process through, drop it off and pick it up, it’s cut up and packaged.

“We are qualified to do just about every type of meat — goats, alpaca, beef, lamb, pigs.”

McLeary and Mr Brechin realise the enormous responsibility of taking on a meat inspector and quality-assurance role.

“It’s a huge responsibility,” Ms McLeary said.

“You have a heap of Australian Standards and you are the one who has to sign that everything is safe for human consumption.”

The red meat processing sector launched a new campaign “Meat. Your Future” in April to attract jobseekers to the industry.

Mr Brechin said the $23 million industry was a pretty good place to be employed.

“When I left school, I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do, I just picked this because it was something I was good at ... being from a farm,” he said.

“But you come here and it’s like you’ve learnt nothing. I worked with a professional who can put 20 an hour into a fridge.

“Now I can probably do five to seven by myself an hour.”

Ms McLeary and Mr Brechin travelled to Surfers Paradise for the awards presentation.

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