Indigenous employment to bolster farm workers

FARMERS’ FRIENDS: Russell Kapeen (Kurachee), Allen Bowcock (First Sun Employment), Lance Manton (Bogal Land Council), Thomas Roberts, Janice Gomes and John Lee (First Sun Employment).
FARMERS’ FRIENDS: Russell Kapeen (Kurachee), Allen Bowcock (First Sun Employment), Lance Manton (Bogal Land Council), Thomas Roberts, Janice Gomes and John Lee (First Sun Employment).

A LISMORE indigenous employment agency has come up with an idea to provide employment on farms to Aboriginal people in Coraki.

Allen Bowcock, site manager of First Sun Employment, said this week that the mining industry is "poaching" farm workers - often the adult children of farmers - who head to mining areas in search of a higher income.

"We know that the mining sector has targeted farm workers for the mining industry because of the skills, work ethic and knowledge that they bring to the job," Mr Bowcock said.

"This is draining the farming sector of qualified, skilled workers. We also know that finding good quality people to work in the farming sector is difficult.

"What we're proposing to do is work with the farmer to build a reliable local labour force to assist with their future needs. First Sun Employment has been working in collaboration with some Coraki farmers to identify those needs and we have the opportunity and resources to help them. Tapping into the local resources makes a lot of sense."

Mr Bowcock said many candidates for training haven't worked in the farming sector before.

"As valued clients of First Sun Employment, they would attract substantial wage subsidies, to assist farmers with the start-up and productivity development periods," he said.

"Indigenous clients 'know and feel' the land just as the farmer does. It's in their spirit to care for the land. Tractor driving and farm operations are skills that can be taught. Then there will be an ongoing resource bank of great people who will be trusted to do the job to farmers' plans and requirements."

Mr Bowcock said that since transport was a problem for many Aboriginal people in Coraki, training group Novaskill would offer courses in the town.

"And Coraki is a town that has some problems. Elders are worried about the young fellas losing sight of their cultural stuff.

"We hope that by employing some of the Aboriginal men we might build better relationships between the indigenous and farming communities. For us, it's about people still identifying as Aboriginal but getting to a place where they have access to jobs and incomes."

Allen Bowcock wants to talk to farmers in the Coraki district who would be interested in exploring the opportunities his company wants to offer.

First Sun is at 92 Woodlark Street in Lismore. Phone 6621 6833.

Topics:  employment training and education

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