For Hugh Dawson, head stockman of the 2.6 million acre, 80,000 head Beetaloo Station near Elliott in the Northern Territory, participation in the Livestock Leaders workshop didn’t just offer a chance for positive industry promotion, but was an opportunity to strengthen his own communication skills.
The Livestock Leaders is a professional development workshop aimed at equipping current and future industry professionals with the skills to successfully advocate for Australian livestock production.
Promoting opportunities in agriculture
Hugh was inspired to participate in the workshop because he was keen to address the opportunities he saw for agriculture in northern Australia, and to share the story of livestock production to the public.
“I think that, broadly speaking, Australia hasn’t promoted itself as well as it can to this point to attract young leaders to the industry,” Hugh said.
“I really want to share my own experiences, the opportunities I’ve been exposed to through working in agriculture, and the skills I’ve attained along the way.
“There’s a bright future for every young Australian in agriculture if they choose that path. I want to become the best advocate I can be to ensure they consider it as a viable career, which Livestock Leaders helped me to do.”
Hugh also saw the workshop as a chance to address common misconceptions about the industry and share these with the public.
“It’s disappointing that a lot of Australians don’t recognise animal welfare being at the front and centre of what we do in this industry,” he said.
“Everything hinges on healthy and happy animals, and we need to keep actively promoting this to the rest of Australia and even the world.”
Hugh said the workshop helped him develop his communication skills to drive these points home to the public, steering clear of industry jargon and using simple language to ensure consumers aren’t intimidated but the message about sustainable livestock production is still heard.
A better leader both off and on the farm
The Livestock Leaders workshop wasn’t only an opportunity for Hugh to learn how better to communicate with the Australian public – he said it also gave him the skills to become a better leader and manager of his team on-farm too.
“I work with a team of seven other staff on Beetaloo, and we’re constantly working with external industry professionals too,” Hugh said.
“The workshop taught me that when leading you need to be able to remove yourself from a situation and put yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand what they’re going through.
“Gaining that appreciation has been invaluable for me as a leader, and it’s helped us move forward as a team much more effectively.”
Building an industry profile
For Hugh, the Livestock Leaders wasn’t only to a chance to improve his skills, but an opportunity to meet other likeminded individuals passionate about the industry.
“The workshop made my own profile more accessible to so many key industry leaders, opening up an incredible range of opportunities I’ve been able to engage with and helping to further develop my career,” he said.
Meat & Livestock Australia funds the Livestock Leaders courses, which are run by the Livestock Collective. If you’re interested in applying to become a Livestock Leader, please complete your details here. Upcoming courses are being held in Alice Springs in March, and in Rockhampton and Victoria in April 2021.
Hugh also featured in MLA’s Good Meat virtual classroom program this week, which aims to educate school students on how farmers produce red meat in an efficient and sustainable manner. You can register for virtual classrooms here.