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Cyclone Debbie puts a dent in the Paddock to Plate National Training Conference

After an inspiring first day at the Paddock to Plate National Training Conference, Day 2 of the Training Conference saw a mass exodus of delegates as people scrambled to catch planes and avoid flooding.

Day 1, however, saw some excellent presentations. Our keynote presenters, Roy Duncanson and David Harland, challenged our thinking about the use of social media as a lobbying tool and succession planning in family business, and set the scene for a diverse and interactive day.

Issues around HR were the focus of many sessions, with some fascinating presentations around the staffing implications of a major expansion (Amanda Carter), recruiting senior staff (Kerry Johnson), changing skills requirements of a QA Manager (Ian Peace), and the value of higher level qualifications across the Agribusiness sector (Wendy Hall).

The were some interesting presentations around areas of industry we haven’t addressed in the past: saleyards of the future (Garry Edwards), the growth of the goat industry (Julie Petty), and what happens in a feedlot (Wendy Denning).

Training sessions also featured, with presentations on the new model of meat inspection training (Clive Richardson), the development of short films to support training (Rachel Murrell), and the development and release of the Meat. Your Future. careers materials (Robbie Sefton).

The fifteen minute snapshots gave an insight into the challenging roles of a pen rider, HR Manager, trainer, and maintenance manager.

Day 1 ended with the launch of the AMPC schools resources by Angela Colliver and Margaret Tayar, and copies of these are available from MINTRAC by emailing

I am sure Rosalie Staggard did not expect to leave the conference branded as ‘the murderer’, but she joined in the spirit of the dinner murder mystery and did some detailed sleuthing – never realising that it was she who ‘done it’! I noticed many people tucking away their illuminating name tags for future reference – ‘The Bimbo’ is proudly tacked to my notice board!

Day 2 brought rain and departures, but despite this we carried on, keen not to miss the exciting line up of speakers. And, deliver they did, despite the dwindling audience.

Keynote addresses from Michael Hartman and Rosalie Staggard provided an excellent update on the world of Training Packages, and Phillippa Woodhill gave an informative overview of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.

In the breakout sessions we heard about the fascinating development of Auctions Plus (Alexa Hearn), the development of the equine qualifications (Rosalie Staggard), the butcher shop of the future (Paul Sandercock), and the development of Ammonia Refrigeration training (Michael Bellstedt, Clive Richardson and Rachel Murrell). Gary Brown provided an insight into the migrants and refugees project, and Rob Mollison spoke about the success of the Young Guns program.

At lunch we called it a day, with about 20 people remaining, the rain falling ever heavier and we all tucked into an extended lunch of gourmet hamburgers and pavlova.

Thank you to all who participated – our sponsors, our delegates, our speakers and the MINTRAC staff. We had some memorable presentations, an excellent venue, amazing catering and challenging weather – it was a conference to remember