Host: Ross Ainsworth
The position of Animal Welfare Officer (AWO) is the single most important element to the successful operation of ESCAS (Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System). ESCAS was established to ensure appropriate welfare outcomes for Australian livestock slaughtered in importing countries. International welfare standards can only be assured if there is a competent person on site to drive the process and ensure that the relevant standards are maintained. The most critical part of this chain is the final slaughter process.
In short, you need a very good operator as your AWO in every abattoir. In August 2011, when ESCAS began in Indonesia there were no such positions so AWO’s had to be hired and trained from scratch. The largest abattoir in Lampung (South Sumatra) is Z-Beef which slaughters animals from the local JJAA feedlot. The management of the feedlot’s supply chain hired many new staff to assist with the implementation of ESCAS and among them was Bambang as AWO for Z-Beef.
He was a skinny 21 year old boy who weighed about 45 kg and looked about 14 years old. His previous employment experience was working in a photocopy shop. This kid was being trained to enforce the brand new ESCAS rules to an abattoir full of tough butchers carrying axes and sharp knives. I confidently predicted that he would not last a week. It is usually not a happy experience to be proved wrong but in this case, I am delighted to report that Bambang is a champion of the system having proved himself to be as good as they come. In 2013 he won the company award for the best AWO from a field of more than 25 other employees.
I visited the Z-Beef abattoir last week to take some photos of Bambang for this story and continue to be amazed at his leadership in this room full of crusty characters where he is still the youngest and smallest. He commands respect from everyone through his sheer force of will, competence, and enthusiasm.
He quickly moves to the back yard to assist the stockman then climbs up to the knocking box where he operates the head bale and conducts the stunning process with great skill. The butchers cannot begin to process the carcass until he confirms that everything is in order. He then collects the RFID recorder and completes the final task of traceability by recording the ID of the animal. This data is then forwarded by email to the importer administration using Bluetooth and a smart phone to confirm that appropriate slaughter protocols have been completed.
Administrative systems such as ESCAS are only as good at the people who operate them day after day, year after year. As long as we have AWO’s like Bambang operating in this and other supply chains then we are in very good hands.