Woolly future cleared for aspiring classers

Zach RelphCountryman
Sarah Lewis, of Kojonup, with Tinneil King, of Pingelly, at the Western Wool Centre.
Camera IconSarah Lewis, of Kojonup, with Tinneil King, of Pingelly, at the Western Wool Centre. Credit: Zach Relph

Sarah Lewis and Tinneil King share a common goal — to forge a long career in WA’s wool ranks.

Ms Lewis, 26, is working her way up the wool industry ladder with shearing contractor Eric Brown in Kojonup, while the Wheatbelt is where Ms King, 28, is learning her trade under Pingelly-based shearer Rob Cristinelli.

The duo are both completing a certificate IV in wool classing through South Regional TAFE to shore up their respective fleece futures.

Ms Lewis, who has previously worked as a shearer, said she was eager to carve out a successful work life in the woolsheds to continue her family’s involvement within the sector.

“For me, it is about family — all of my family work in the wool industry,” she said.

“It is in my blood and something I have always wanted to do.

“It won’t stop at wool classing, that’s for sure, I want to keep going up and up to get more knowledge and experience.”

Ms Lewis and Ms King met for the first time at the Western Wool Centre last week.

They were among wool classing students to tour the Bibra Lake facility with Narrogin TAFE wool classing lecturer Rob Carter and Elders WA wool manager Danny Burkett last Wednesday.

For most of the group, who are all working in the industry, having already completed certificate II and certificate III in advanced wool handling, it was their first time at the Western Wool Centre.

The group during last Wednesday's tour of the Western Wool Centre.
Camera IconThe group during last Wednesday's tour of the Western Wool Centre. Credit: Zach Relph

Mr Carter organised the excursion to reinforce the importance of correct clip preparation, classing and documentation, with Mr Burkett stressing the value of a wool classer’s duties.

“Your role is paramount,” Mr Burkett said.

“You have control over the wool preparation, the classing, the lines to be made, the documentation and the suggested lotting advice”.

Ms King lauded the tour and said it clarified many uncertainties surrounding the wool supply chain.

Ms King, who moved to Pingelly last August after previously working at woolsheds in Katanning and Kojonup, said wool was an exciting career avenue.

“It’s a job which allows you to work your way up,” she said.

“There are different opportunities, it is international, there is a travelling aspect and it also runs in my family.

“I’ve never been so passionate about a job.”

The certificate IV wool classing course involves 12 topics of correspondence work and a three-week intensive block release run at the Narrogin TAFE campus.

After the three-week on-campus study period, students return to their workplace under the supervision of a registered wool classer ahead of final assessments.

Mr Carter’s Western Wool Centre have morphed into a popular annual event, since starting in 2007.

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