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Northern Rivers & Rural News

Young Aussies urged to ‘Get outta town after lockdown’ for a once in a lifetime GAP Year experience

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Celebrity Chef and Thankful4Farmers Ambassador, Matt Moran

Young Aussies urged to ‘Get outta town after lockdown’ for a once in a lifetime GAP Year experience

Thankful4Farmers

Thankful4Farmers Logo

Young Australians are being encouraged to get outta town after lockdown for a new type of GAP Year filled with fun, new friendships and skill development opportunities in their own backyard.

Social enterprise Thankful’s Australian initiative, Thankful4Farmers is calling on young people to try a new type of GAP Year across rural and regional Australia. Highlighting the once in a lifetime experiences waiting for them and the great opportunity to make a real difference, the New GAP Year is encouraging young Australians to GoAndPick or GoAndPour in regional Australia.

To help young Australians wanting adventure, the organisation has launched a new website and platform www.newgapyear.com.au connecting them with job opportunities in rural and regional Australia and has everything they need to plan and map out their GAP – whether they want to GoAndPick, GoAndPour for a week, a month or a whole year.
The New GAP Year launches as there is a skilled labour shortage across regional Australia, particularly in agriculture and hospitality industries. The agriculture labour shortages are causing crop losses and tens of millions to be lost to the local economy with fruit and vegetables continuing to rot in fields.

An issue that is having a knock-on effect beyond the farmgate to all Australians with the Consumer Price Index showing retail fruit and vegetable prices rising by around 5% in June 2021 due to a shortage of pickers. The September 2021 Quarterly update for Horticulture from the Department of Agriculture also shows that prices will remain high in 2021-22 due to labour shortages.

“There are so many amazing people and places waiting for them across regional and rural Australia,” says Thankful CEO, Kim McDonnell who is behind the initiative. “As well as great ways they can earn money and learn new skills while exploring.”

“We know young Aussies are dreaming of adventure after a hard year. We also know they are the highest unemployed group, suffering the most with mental health and wellness. This really is a great opportunity for them to have fun, make new friends, earn money and get outta town after lockdown.”

“At the same time, they will be ‘doing good’ by providing a helping hand to rural and regional communities and ensuring every Australian family can access the fresh and delicious produce this country produces. They will be connected with fee free courses to help future-proof skills, explore new interests and trial in-demand industries.”
“COVID border closures have caused seasonal labour shortages across Australian farms with many producers not knowing where to go to or how to attract seasonal workers. The skilled labor crisis and the growing impact of climate change compound the challenges currently facing farmers.”

“So by connecting producers and employers in regional communities to young Aussies looking for an amazing adventure, we hope to help address the labour shortage issue and deliver a once in a lifetime experience filled with fun, new friendships and skill development opportunities.”

“The New GAP Year platform is a labour solution for producers and other employers in rural and regional communities which estimates the agriculture labour shortage alone is around 24,000. And with the lost crop register exceeding $50 million in March, already many producers are worried about the 2021 harvest and destroying produce because of the inability to harvest.”

“Thankful4Farmers is committed to helping regional and rural Australia and we wanted to help address this growing issue with a practical and meaningful solution, which will enables them to find seasonal workers they need and focus on what they do best – producing fresh and healthy produce for every Australian family every day.”
The Thankful4Farmers New GAP Year platform (www.newGAPyear.com.au) has partnered with Training Services NSW to deliver free training courses for young people, job seekers and school leavers as well as jobs marketplace, Tree to deliver a comprehensive solution. The website has everything people need to plan and map out their GAP in regional and rural Australia.

The Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said young people could also take advantage of fee-free training as part of the Summer Skills program to get qualifications.

“The NSW Government is working with training providers to offer free skills sets in areas such as agriculture, horticulture, shearing and even drone operations. This is a great opportunity for students and young people who have been locked down to break out, have an adventure and learn some new skills.”
“They can connect with labour providers, producers and employers across rural and regional Australia and make the most of the many amazing experiences across Australia await them in The New GAP Year. They can start planning their adventure today – whether they want to GoAndPick or GoAndPour for a week, a month or a whole year,” said McDonnell.

Celebrity Chef and Thankful4Farmers Ambassador, Matt Moran today issued a call to arms to young Australians.
“The New GAP Year is a great way to get outta town after a long lockdown,” says Moran. “I’ve seen firsthand the impact that labour shortages are having on regional and rural Australia with many farmers facing no choice but to destroy their crops and many hospitality venues struggling to find staff. This is a fantastic opportunity to have a fun-filled adventure in our backyard, while also making a real difference to the community, learning valuable skills and forging new friendships along the way.”
For further information visit: www.newgapyear.com.au

Northern Rivers & Rural News

It’s time to fix Inland Rail

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It's time to fix Inland Rail

It’s time to fix Inland Rail

NSW Farmers and the CWA of NSW have stressed the importance of getting the Inland Rail project back on track as they welcomed the appointment of Catherine King as federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.
“Our communities want this project to go ahead, but the last few years have been frustrating,” NSW Farmers Inland Rail Taskforce chair Adrian Lyons said.

“We’ve tried to work with bureaucrats, previous ministers, and the ARTC themselves to put forward science and evidence-based concerns in relation to the execution of this project, and at almost every turn we have been ignored.

“This tin-eared approach has cost the project time, and it has caused the community stress and angst. This has to stop.”

Both organisations had been calling for an independent review of the Inland Rail project, in line with their respective policy positions voted on by members.

“The fact is, if this independent review had been done when it was first raised, we’d have track already laid in greenfield sites by now,” CWA of NSW president Joy Beames said.

The organisations agreed that a review of the ARTC’s business case and other matters would be welcome, but they also didn’t want to see more time and money wasted.
“A recent Senate inquiry into the ARTC’s management of the Inland Rail project produced a comprehensive set of findings and recommendations,” Ms Beame said.
“The previous government ignored many of them, and the lack of consultation has cost the project time.
“We urge the new government and Minister King to revisit this report as a matter of urgency and to take immediate steps to engage with us, and the wider community, about how these recommendations can be adopted.”

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Northern Rivers & Rural News

Trailblazing women join together to discuss breaking bias on International Women’s Day 2022

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Trailblazing women join together to discuss breaking bias on International Women’s Day 2022

Trailblazing women join together to discuss breaking bias on International Women’s Day 2022

Landcare Australia and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment are bringing together a formidable group of women for a conversation about their challenges and triumphs.

In an online panel event on International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8 March, Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Kerstie Lee will lead the discussion, focussing on this year’s theme – #BreakTheBias.

The panel includes Natalie Sommerville, a farmer, grazier and proud Torres Strait Islander woman from the clan Wagadagam of the Goemulgal people of Mabuyag Island. Currently living and working on Ngadjuri Country in South Australia’s Mid North, when Nat is not farming she is mentoring Aboriginal students.

Joining her is Sally Downie, who was selected as an ABC Heywire Trailblazer in 2019 for her work advocating for improved mental health services and support in drought-affected communities in Central West NSW. She is also a farmer, student and part-time drought policy officer.

Fiona Hill-Stein will add insights from her career advising on agricultural policy, drought and rural assistance, and natural resource management at the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Rounding out the panel is Tess Grieves, Regional Landcare Coordinator at North Central Catchment Management Authority in Victoria. A driven environmental achiever in her community, she is nominated for the Steadfast Young Landcare Leadership Award at the 2022 National Landcare Awards.

“We are thrilled to present an engaging, thought-provoking discussion with Kerstie, Natalie, Sally, Fiona and Tess about their experiences and accomplishments in landcare,” said Dr Shane Norrish, CEO Landcare Australia.

“Launched over 35 years ago by two women – Joan Kirner and Heather Mitchell – landcare has led the way with women in leadership roles across Australia. This event celebrates the thousands of women in landcare and their contribution to local communities and natural resource management,” said Dr Norrish.

International Women’s Day 2022 aims to inspire everyone to celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality.

Don’t miss Landcare Women Break the Bias, Tuesday 8 March, 2pm – 3.30pm AEDT.

Register to attend at landcareaustralia.org.au/webinars/iwd2022.

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Northern Rivers & Rural News

Farmers get their say on land use

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NSW Northern Rivers Breaking News

Farmers get their say on land use

The fight between farmers and developers could be a thing of the past thanks to a new mapping project that will shape future regional planning decisions.

With agriculture, urban development, renewable energy infrastructure and other land use interests competing for space in our increasingly busy regional areas, NSW Farmers is urging landholders to have their say on State Significant Agricultural Land mapping.

NSW Farmers Vice President Xavier Martin said it was an important process that would help protect farmers from conflicting land uses into the future.

“Farmers are being given a direct opportunity to have their say on the important issue of land use planning, and this could set the course for years to come as land use interests in regional areas grow,” Mr Martin said.

“Unfortunately, agricultural land can be viewed as a default zone when it comes to matters such as urban expansion, energy infrastructure and mining.

“There’s a finite amount of land suitable for agriculture and at the moment, we are losing it in a very fragmented way, but the state government’s mapping exercise is an opportunity to resolve that poor outcome.”

Mr Martin said the NSW Government’s understanding of the regional and state significance of agricultural areas would go a long way to minimising future conflict.

“The understanding of high value agricultural land must be multi-faceted, taking into consideration soil quality, yield, adaptability, proximity to export hubs and regional importance,” Mr Martin said.

“If the government is to identify and protect agricultural land on a tiered basis, then they need to understand what makes land strategically important – and farmers will be the repository of that knowledge.

“The goal of NSW Farmers advocacy in the land use space is to ensure agriculture is being considered in land use decisions. We need to start somewhere, and this mapping is the starting point.”

While the first iteration of the government’s mapping is not perfect, Mr Martin said consultation and refinement would help produce a planning tool that benefits landholders.

Consultation on the first State Significant Agricultural Land mapping is open until late January 2022 and the NSW Department of Primary Industries is welcoming input from farmers.

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