DUNCAN Macintyre and his wife Jill, who run Invermien in Scone, are amoung 210 local farmers to take advantage of fully subsidised AgriSkills courses during the drought and they encourage other farmers to seize the opportunity.
Duncan and Jill have completed three courses to date and said for a few hours a week, the courses are a great opportunity.
“You can refresh skills you haven’t used for a while like wool classing or first aid, or take on a totally new challenge, as part of our efforts to provide drought assistance and support farm recovery,” said Mr Macintyre.
“We found this such a great opportunity, it got us off the farm for a few hours each week and gave us a chance to upgrade skills and stop focusing on the drought,” he said.
“We were really well looked after, even got home cooked meals, and we built up a strong network of local producers who are going through the same things as us,” he said.
“To be honest, it’s been a great way to keep myself sane, having something to look forward to each week, and I now have the skills to use the new welder I had bought and wasn’t sure how to operate,” said Duncan Macintyre.
Maria Cameron, regional drought coordinator for Hunter Local Land Services said for many farming families doing a course has been an important distraction from the pressures of the drought.
“With the drought unfortunately continuing across the Hunter, many producers have chosen to destock completely or reduce stocking rates, which has had a huge impact on not just their workloads, but also morale and day to day activities,” said Ms Cameron.
“More than 210 locals have now completed AgriSkills courses, in everything from rural welding and fabrication to chemical application and weed identification, and digital farm mapping and drone training,” she said.
“We’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants, and 98% of the students have completed their courses, thanks to the caring peer environment and extra support being offered by Stuart, Lynne and the team from TAFE NSW, our local DPI Rural Support Worker Karen Sowter and Hunter Local Land Services staff,” she said.
“It’s easy to register and get involved and aside from having your course fees covered, you may also receive relevant Personal Protection Equipment or tools to complete your training as well as an accreditation certificate on completion.
“It’s really important to have a chance to get off farm, everyone needs a break sometimes and to be able to meet with like-minded producers has created an avenue for a social outing, that’s also a learning opportunity,” Maria Cameron said.
Courses on offer include:
- Digital Farm Mapping and Drone Training
- Rural Welding and Fabrication
- Farm Engine and Pump Maintenance
- Computer and Digital Media Skills
- Chainsaw Operations
- Wool Classing Skills
- Chemical Application and Weed ID
- Livestock Nutrition and Assessment
- Farm Business Skills
- Farm First Aid
- MR Truck Licence
If you would like more information phone Karen Sowter, rural support worker for the Department of Primary Industries: 0400 869 136.