FENCING, welding and stock handling are all in a day’s work for a group of Gunnedah boys taking part in a new initiative aimed at providing valuable training opportunities for local Indigenous youth.
The boys are part of the first group to take part in the new project, which has seen Tamworth Local Aboriginal Land Council and BackTrack lease the 750 hectare Somerton property, Trelawney.
The Trelawney BackTrack project officially began last week, with close to 45 girls and boys from Gunnedah and Tamworth visiting the farm.
The groups are taking part in all aspects of farm life, including fencing, planting and irrigating crops, feeding stock and fixing machinery.
Trelawney farm manager Craig Watton said the project aims to give the groups a range of practical skills, as well as giving them something to be proud of.
“The agricultural industry is crying out for these skills and we are hoping to train up these kids and help fill that gap,” Mr Watton said.
“We also want to give them something positive in their life.
“This is the first time some of these boys have ever done this sort of work and so far they are loving it.”
Trelawney, which is owned by the Indigenous Land Corporation, is a mixture of cropping and grazing country and was previously running agisted cattle.
Throughout the year the groups will help run the farm and take part in activities which will include nationally accredited agricultural courses.
The Gunnedah group will visit the farm three days each fortnight, which counts as school attendance.
The groups were chosen from referrals by local high schools. The project received so much interest that a waiting list has been created.
“We have more kids wanting to take part but this group will continue to come for as long as they need to.”
William Johnson is one of 13 Gunnedah boys taking part in the project and he said it has been a great experience so far.
“I actually don’t mind getting up on time to come out to the farm,” he said.
“It’s pretty good fun.”
Later this year the groups will take part in a project funded by Namoi CMA which will include fencing off the Peel River from stock, planting trees and putting in alternative water points for stock.