COVID-19 clips WA shearing shed staff

Bob GarnantCountryman
Jury Shearing contractor Lowanna Jury and wool handler Gina Haenga are concerned about the shortage of shed staff for the upcoming season.
Camera IconJury Shearing contractor Lowanna Jury and wool handler Gina Haenga are concerned about the shortage of shed staff for the upcoming season. Credit: Countryman

With the busy spring shearing season just around the corner, a Kojonup contractor has concerns that travel restrictions from COVID-19 will create a shortage of shed staff.

Jury Shearing contractor Lowanna Jury is already one shearer short with the recent retirement of her most experienced staffer, and making up the numbers is an unknown.

“We are shearing half a million sheep every year and without shearing legend Johno Shorten, who retired after 17 years, the busy season looks daunting,” she said.

Mrs Jury, who runs the business with her husband Jason, said September and October were always busy for their shearing run with most of the work around Kojonup, but also Kukerin, Highbury, Mt Barker and Boyup Brook.

“We have always had good experienced shed staff for our three teams, which included a few from outside WA,” she said.

“But with COVID-19, we cannot count on overseas or interstate shearers and with the shortage, we may see contractors competing for staff placements.”

Mrs Jury usually has up to 14 shed staff, including 12 that lived in the Kojonup area.

“Our staff are aged between 16 to 50,” she said.

“There certainly won’t be any spare time when the busy season hits and the pressure will be on.”

Mrs Jury said it was not possible to run an evening shift because of safety reasons, but she was determined to get all the work done despite the obstacles.

“Possibly the border could open up to allow more staff, but I just don’t know,” she said.

“We can only do our best.”

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