A full social calendar

Host: Country Downs Station
Written by Nikki Elizovech – Owner, Country Downs Station.

As I mentioned yesterday, 2016 was a pretty busy year for us with continuing development and maintenance on the station, but also the realisation that it was only a matter of time before we were going to have to go to that next level of having a couple more employees, particularly if we were actually serious about taking holidays with the kids each year! What we did realise is that it is so important to continue our own learning and personal development as these provide the foundations to being part of a balanced, functioning, cohesive, and formidable team with which we can forge on ahead into the future with. So, over the year, we embarked on a kind of educational frenzy with both of us getting out and about attending all sorts of conferences and workshops in order to continually improve our business into the future. Today, I will take you on a brief tour of some of those activities.

Some of the major events that either Kurt or I attended included:

  • The International BEHAVE Conference, held in Dubbo in March 2016. Kurt attended this invite only conference and returned with an amazing amount of new and innovative thoughts and knowledge on the complexity of the landscape and the role of every living thing within it. This conference fit in well with the knowledge and ideals that we have already taken from other internationally renowned scientists and peers such as Alan Savoury, Johann Zietsmann, Fred Provenza, and others. You will hear more about some of the things that Kurt took from this conference later this week.
  • The LIVEX Forum held in Canberra in October 2016. Kurt also attended this with financial support through the Northern Beef Futures (NBF) funding and grants program. The LIVEX Forum was a fantastic opportunity to get an insight into what is happening on the global scale in terms of the livestock market, their trends, and the issues that impact that massive industry. The biggest message that was brought home was the importance of social licence in our industry and our responsibility within this space. Australia has one of the highest quality welfare standards associated with livestock husbandry in the world. However, we have to constantly be mindful of the need to maintain that ‘social’ right to continue our practices in the perpetually widening social structure that is occurring in our communities. The number of people who are questioning and challenging our right to continue what we do is increasing. As an industry and also as individuals, we need to be constantly proving to society that what we do is done with integrity, transparency, responsibility, and with the highest welfare standards possible.
  • The Rural Leadership Bootcamp held in Broome in October 2016. I attended this aptly named ‘Bootcamp’ which was in a nutshell a workshop which challenges the participants to reflect on what is expected of modern rural leader and to understand what it takes to be a highly effective leader both in our industry and in general. It is an intense course that is run by The Right Mind, a Brisbane based company, and was only made available to the rural community of the Kimberley and Pilbara region through the support and funding from three different community groups based in these areas:
    • Kimberley and Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association (KPCA): a newly formed association that provides industry based support, education, innovation, and connection.
    • Rangelands NRM: a non-government organisation that works to enhance sustainable management in the WA rangelands through facilitation, collaboration, and delivering outcomes.
    • West Kimberley LCDC (Land Conservation District Committee): a committee of land managers working to promote sustainable land management, to empower land managers to undertake such activities and to undertake projects.

Both Kurt and I also attended a variety of other forums and field days throughout the year, all of these supported by one or more of the above organisations or DAFWA, NBF, MLA, and many other government or not-for-profit groups that exist to further the agricultural industry in Australia on the whole. Attending all of these different conventions takes up a lot of time, which, without the assistance of our employees, friends, and families, we would never be able to attend. Kurt and I can only hope that we can, at some point in the future, give something back to those community members and the future generations in our industry by utilising the information we have gained and sharing our experiences and knowledge with the wider community.

We hope that over the next couple of days, you learn a little more about the details of what we are aiming to achieve not just in our lifetime, but also our children’s and their children’s lifetime. I will leave you today with a couple of links to websites of the above mentioned groups and a couple of photos of our events.

NBF: www.agric.wa.gov.au/r4r/northern-beef-futures

LIVEX: https://livexchangeconference.com.au/

The Right Mind: http://www.therightmind.com.au/

Rangelands NRM: http://www.rangelandswa.com.au/

KPCA: www.kpca.online/

LCDC’s: www.agric.wa.gov.au/land-use-planning/land-conservation-district-committees

A fantastic slide from the LIVEX Forum demonstrating the evolution of consumer concern in developing societies. The lower the GDP of the country, the more important food security is and life values (e.g. animal welfare, humane slaughter etc.) are less important than a full belly.

A slide from an advocacy workshop that I attended in December 2016 demonstrating the two ends of the spectrum in terms of public perception and the impacts as a result of either end occurring.

The participants of the Rural Leadership Bootcamp workshop out the front of the NBF office in Broome, WA.