Shearing just clicked for group
Ten students are getting hands-on experience on the boards in Wellstead at a shearing camp designed to fill labour shortages and drive Indigenous employment.
The Great Southern shearing camp, running from September 14 to 25, follows two State Government pilot programs earlier this year which produced 20 graduates.
The first camp was held in Northampton in January, and repeated in August, while another was conducted at Brookton in March.
Wellstead woolgrower Robert Davy said he was pleased to see shearing school participants at work on his Woodyarrup-blood hoggets.
“Three days in and I was impressed with how the sheep were cleanly shorn,” Mr Davy said.
“We need young people to start in the industry.”
Mr Davy said he had felt the shearing shortage for a number of years.
“There is a shortage because shearing hasn’t been promoted enough as a viable career option,” he said. “There should be some incentive for shearing contractors to employ learners.”
WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the three shearing camps had delivered “real results for industry and for young Aboriginal people in the regions”.
“In total we’ve trained 24 novices, all of which have gone on to have post-camp industry experience with contractors,” she said.
“Many have gone on to secure regular shearing and wool handling contract work.
“We are working with the WA Shearing Industry Association and Australian Wool Innovation on using the Peel feedlot to further up-skill Aboriginal shearers and supply job-ready youth for industry at the end of November.”
Students at Wellstead said they would seek employment in sheds.
Luke Mowaljarlai Jr, 16, of Albany, said once he finished at Alta-1 College, he would like to work with his father, Luke Sr, a wool presser.
“I would maybe consider a career in shearing and would love to work with my dad’s team,” he said.
Luke was on a 10-minute pace shearing only his fourth sheep at the camp.
Impact Services representative Danny Pinner, of Albany, said there was were a lot of young people looking for work.
“Aboriginal people have natural ability to pick up shearing very quickly,” he said. “They have good balance and co-ordination.”
Aboriginal mentor Mark Colbung said the students had unbelievable reflexes.
“They are learning the correct method of shearing and I will encourage them to work in sheds,” he said.
Australian Wool Innovation trainer Kevin Gellatly said all the students were doing extremely well.
“We have three shearing by themselves,” he said.
“Several have great potential to make a full-time career.”
Mr Gellatly said the camps were progressing.
“The onus is on shearing contractors to take on our students,” he said. “They won’t be as fast as the industry needs, but host farmers are please with how well they are shearing.”
Department of Primary Industry and Research Development business development officer Ashley Talbot said the plan was to rotate the shearing hubs to different farms where the most employment opportunities might exist.
“We have pencilled in two more in the Wheatbelt in the new year, one in Nungarin in the eastern Wheatbelt and one in the south west Wheatbelt,” he said.
“Brookton ... to fit in with the farmers shearing cycles.
“DPIRD has committed $130,000 to do four schools in partnership with AWI. We have done two of the four but will now await AWI who are currently experiencing budgetary pressures due to the low wool prices.”
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