Shearing students stars in the woolshed
A group of Indigenous students are keen to take their new shearing skills to the next level by gaining employment in the industry after completing school at the Eden Valley woolshed in Narrogin.
The school, hosted by Jefferson and Barbara Harris at their sheep farm, gave nine beginners the opportunity to learn the basics of shearing and woolhandling in five days from October 25 to 29.
It was hands-on for the students, who put a shearing handpiece to work while being guided by Australian Wool Innovation trainers Kevin Gellatly, Todd Wegner and Amanda Davis.
Glenn Taylor, 19, and Wade Hodder, 24, started new jobs with Narrogin shearing contractor Eddie McEllister on Monday.
Mr Taylor, who was raised in Narrogin, said the school was a great opportunity to get involved in the shearing industry.
“Most young people look at construction work,” he said.
“This was the best course I have ever done — I learned how to shear a sheep by myself and I will hopefully get a job.”
Mr Gellatly said he was very impressed with Mr Taylor’s aptitude to learn. “Glenn did an awesome job and has been offered a job,” he said. Mr Hodder, who lives in Geraldton, said it was his first time in a woolshed.
“It was very physical, but at the end of the day, I felt good,” he said.
“I achieved something and feel I have enough confidence to work.”
Mr McEllister said he was impressed with the students.
“At first, they showed up at the school with their heads down, but by the end of the week, their heads were up and they were engaging about getting jobs straight away,” he said. “They wanted to have a go, which is really encouraging.”
He said Glenn and Wade put in half a day on Monday and would be brought back to Eden Valley to shear some more sheep on Thursday. “I am planning to have them trained further with the AWI trainers, so they can be ready for more work as needed,” Mr McEllister said.
WA Labor Member for Agricultural Region MLC Shelley Payne visited the students.
“I was very pleased to attend the final day of the training camp on behalf of WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan,” she said.
“It is particularly rewarding to see the Hodder family become involved in the shearing industry once again after a break of several decades.” Ms Payne said the Hodder family were Wadjarri people from around Yalgoo.
“Many Hodder family members worked on stations around Yalgoo as station hands and shearers for many years,” she said.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Aboriginal economic development manager Melissa Hartmann said the shearing school program had recently been a finalist in the WA Community Achievement Awards.
“The Regional Shearing and Woolhandling Hub Program has been a wonderful collaboration between industry and community,” she said. “The shearing camps are a great example of industry and community capacity building, providing a clear, supported pathway for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to gain employment and develop a career.”
Ms Hartmann said the State Government had a great partnership with AWI and the WA Shearing Industry Association to deliver the camps.
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