Wednesday 3 August

Setup and introduction

Jeanette Long
Ag Consulting Co

Jeanette is passionate about engaging people and influencing positive change in agriculture and Natural Resource Management. She specialise in facilitation and facilitated learning both with farmers and for professionals who work with farmers. Jeanette supports and develops the skills of people in rural communities, builds capacity of those who works with farmers and inspires farm families to build great teams and do transition well. Along with he husband, Bill, she works in Ag Consulting Co and farms with son Will on Eyre Peninsula and in the Mid North of SA.

Official welcome

Hon. Mark Furner MP
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities

Mark Furner is a passionate advocate for Queensland’s primary producers. He is committed to the success of Queensland’s farmers and fishers and has travelled more than 180,000km across Queensland to support them and witness their achievements first hand. He has been a Cabinet Minister in the Queensland Palaszczuk Government since 2017. Mark served in the Australian Senate from 2008 to 2014, serving on several parliamentary committees including Law Enforcement, Health & Aging, Legal and Constitutional Affairs and Economics. He was also privileged to lead a delegation to Afghanistan as Chair of the Defence Sub-Committee. He was appointed Minister for Local Government and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships in early 2017. After the November 2017 election he was appointed Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and following the 2020 election he was given the additional portfolio of Minister for Rural Communities. He has travelled to all parts of the state listening to the stories of primary producers on the land, often around the kitchen table with a cuppa in hand. These discussions have formed the basis of various decisions that have been and will be made during this term of government. Mark Furner has dedicated his adult life to serving local communities. A husband, father of three, and grandfather of two, Mark started his career working in various areas of the agricultural supply chain including in a butchers, fish & chip shop, and fruit & vegetable store in Chermside. Upon leaving high school his first job was in a state government run nursery. Following the 2020 election he was appointed to the additional portfolio of Minister for Rural Communities.

Joanne Sheppard
Queensland Famers' Federation

Originally from a sheep and cattle property near Cunnamulla in far SW Queensland, Jo has worked across a number of industries from agriculture, small business and local government to education, communications and the NFP sector developing skills in both public and private sectors. Jo operated her own business for 10 years delivering Vocational Education and Training to the agricultural industry partnering with RTOs across Queensland and NSW. Formerly an elected councillor for 12 years including Mayor for 4 years with the Paroo Shire Council, Jo has a sound understanding of regional and remote Queensland and extensive experience in economic development and advocacy. Previously the CEO with the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce, and most recently holding the role of Director – Stakeholder Engagement with the University of Southern Queensland. Jo holds a Bachelor of Business (University of Sydney), a Diploma in Executive Leadership (Oxford University), is an Australian Institute of Company Directors graduate and has held a number of board roles including Director on the Board of SunWater Ltd and a Commissioner with the Queensland Local Government Grants Commission. Jo commenced as CEO of the Queensland Farmers’ Federation in February 2022.

Donna Bonney
Jobs Queensland

Donna has been a member of the Jobs Queensland Board since November 2018 and was nominated Board Chair in July 2020. She also serves as Executive Director of Mater Education and Chief People and Learning Offer at Mater Group.

Donna has more than 30 years’ experience as a clinician, educator, manager and leader across both the public and private healthcare sectors. She is passionate about interprofessional education and translational simulation, evidence-based practice, workforce planning and development, and improving workplace culture, communication and teamwork behaviours to support workforces to work top of scope.

Donna is a strong business development professional with several postgraduate qualifications focused in the areas of education, leadership and management. She is also skilled in capability and career development, learning management and culture change.

Donna is dedicated to positively influencing social and economic outcomes for all individuals, especially through education, training and employment.

Warwick Agnew
Department of Employment, Small Business and Training

Warwick Agnew was appointed as Director-General of the department in November 2020 following an extensive career and experience in both the private and public sector. Prior to joining the department, Warwick held the position of Director-General, Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs and has direct experience in social and economic policy issues facing all areas of Queensland. Throughout his career Warwick has led social and economic infrastructure projects, economic analysis and policy, legislative reform, financial and commercial procurement and corporate finance advisory services. Warwick’s private sector experience includes commercial project development and senior advisory roles for global companies servicing resources, energy, industrial, infrastructure, property and defence sectors. He has also served on key government boards including Queensland Treasury Corporation Capital Markets Board, the Long-Term Asset Allocation Board and the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority.

Keynote speakers

Salvo Vitelli
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Salvo’s grandparents roots are from a farming background, and he has a long history working in the agriculture and natural resource management sectors. He has had various roles in government, industry and private businesses. He is committed to shaping and implementing an effective and functioning agriculture system in Queensland that benefits our state especially rural and regional communities. During his time in the Queensland Government, he has designed and delivered policies and programs that are focussed on sustainable production in partnership with industries and community-based organisations across a variety of areas that include agriculture and biosecurity. In his current role he is focussed on working with others to maximise innovation and sustainability opportunities for agribusiness sector commodities and their related value chains and services that have been created by changing domestic and international trading markets.

Dr Mirjana Prica
Food Innovation Australia (FIAL)

Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) Managing Director, Dr Mirjana Prica, is an enthusiastic visionary who focuses on entrepreneurship and innovation to deliver commercial value. Dr Prica sits on boards and advisory groups of clusters, cooperative research centres, universities, research and industry organisations and businesses, where she leverages her 30 years of research and commercial experience in food, agribusiness, advanced materials and minerals. FIAL is a national and industry-led organisation, established by the Australian Government to drive innovation and business growth for the ~180,000 firms in the food and agribusiness sector.

Unlocking the $200B potential of Australia’s food and agribusiness sector
Over the past couple of years there has been renewed focus on Australia’s potential to produce high value food products. This potential is no surprise to many, including the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre (trading as FIAL), which has been supporting food producers develop the value-add potential for the food and agricultural sectors to grow. In 2020 FIAL estimated the value-add potential of Australia’s food and agribusiness sector could be three times its current value, at least $200B by 2030, creating 300,000 new jobs for the economy. In this session, FIAL Managing Director – Dr Mirjana Prica, explores the pathways for value-adding, outlining new initiatives involving pre- and post-farmgate opportunities along with the top skills required to unlock $200B in value.

Dr Diana Saunders
Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance

Dr Diana Saunders has more than 17 years of experience as a project and research manager leading a large number of projects and building collaboration to address workforce and people development issues across agricultural industries. She has also conducted research in the areas of innovation, teamwork, leadership, knowledge transfer and the economic and social impact assessment of projects. Diana currently works as a policy advisor in workforce planning at Queensland Farmers’ Federation. She is the project manager of the Rural Jobs and Skill alliance (RJSA), whose purpose is to address mutual goals for its member organisations that focus on the attraction, development and retention of new entrants and existing workers to underpin the prosperity of Queensland’s agricultural sector now and into the future. Its mission is to identify agricultural workforce needs and seek effective solutions to ensure a sustainable agricultural workforce for Queensland. The RJSA provides leadership and advice to government, service providers and other organisations with respect to employment, skills, industry training and workforce planning on behalf of Queensland’s agriculture and related industries.

Queensland Agricultural Industry Workforce Plan
The Summit will feature a presentation about the five-year Workforce Plan for the state’s agriculture sector, including the consultation process and results. The Plan responds to the major issues experienced by the industry while anticipating future workforce demand.

The Plan envisions that Queensland’s agribusinesses aspire to be leaders in workforce planning and development. It also aspires to ensure that the state’s sustainable, productive and fair agriculture employers and training providers will collaborate, engage and develop a diverse and skilled workforce in Queensland’s regions.

The Plan suggests actions across key actions areas (Adaptability and business capability; Workforce attraction and diversity; Workforce retention; and Workforce skilling) to ensure that critical gaps and needs are addressed by strengthening agribusinesses, raising awareness of career and employment opportunities in a changing industry, embedding agtech and innovation, and developing education, training and career pathways.

Participants at the Summit will be asked for input to guide implementation of the plan.

Adaptability – Growing your business capability for innovation and adaption to change

Keynote speaker

Tracey Martin
Australian Agritech Association

Tracey is the CEO of the Australian Agritech Association (AusAgritech). AusAgritech’s mission is to ‘build a world-class Agritech sector that supports achieving the $100B national target for Agriculture and develops a $20B+ a year industry of technology exports and opportunities.’ She is also an agricultural producer, contributes to agricultural policy as a member of the Cattle Council of Australia Policy Council and was a Nuffield Scholar in 2020. A seasoned financial services professional, lawyer and risk leader with recent international policy experience as committee Chair in the European Union. Senior executive and advisory experience spanning diverse roles, organisations and sectors.

A Bright Future for Technology in Ag! Making sure we make the most out of the opportunity for our workforce from AgriTech
Tracey will provide an update about the agritech sector and ecosystem.She will provide an overview of the current state of play, what is coming into the sector and what the barriers and opportunities are. The state of play and ensuring it is future-fit, will be related to workforce training in agriculture and the agritech sector. She will canvass whether the Agritech sector is having difficulty finding people and address workforce and skills issues that might be at the agricultural level. She will conclude with some thoughts about the opportunities for rural and regional Australia and the agritech sector into the future.

Participants at the Summit will be asked for input to guide implementation of the plan.

Leticia Grigorieff
Jobs Queensland

Leticia Grigorieff is the Director Workforce Planning and Development at Jobs Queensland. In partnership with industry leaders, regions and communities, she leads the development of Jobs Queensland’s workforce planning and development projects, with a particular focus on industry and place-based approaches. Leticia led the collaboration with the Queensland Farmers Federation in the development of the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Plan, Agriculture focussed workforce planning tools and resources, and this Summit. Leticia is a highly versatile professional, working with boards and executive teams across a variety of industries including not for profit, disability services, utilities sector, hospital and health services, financial services, commercial laboratory operations, local government and state government environment. She has extensive workforce planning experience across the public, not for profit and private sectors in developing, leading and facilitating workforce solutions that drive business outcomes during times of change.

Workforce planning in times of change
The need for the right people, with the right skills, in the right roles, at the right time rings true now more than ever. Workforce planning helps business be more resilient for economic, environmental, social and technological changes.  The last couple of years have been difficult for businesses due to the pandemic, economic uncertainty, supply chain interruptions and a tight labour market. Some industries have flourished while others have had to pivot or develop new approaches to succeed. Workforce planning that is flexible and integrated into business planning discussions has never been more important to support long-term success.  It’s about determining what you can do now to be best prepared for the future.

Given these moving dynamics, how can business stay ahead of the curve? This presentation explores how workforce planning can help align changing business needs to enhance achievement of strategic business objectives and minimise threats.

Industry panel

Danielle Purdon

Based in the Whitsundays, Danielle’s current role focuses on leadership development and workforce planning, aligning strategic vison with operational objectives to achieve balance and results. With over 20 years experience as an HR Generalist, she has 14 years combined experience in the Aquaculture industry and spent several years in the energy sector. Prior to that in automotive and combined trades fields and sales. An earlier focus on talent acquisition and pipeline development saw her develop strong relationships with the training and education sectors, community mentoring programs and the successful introduction of several school based apprenticeship programs. Danielle has participated in several industry forums and on a number of community boards focused on closing the gap between education and industry. With a personal passion for driving connections and insight to enable others to achieve results through the application of learning, Danielle has undertaken further accreditations in The Neuroscience of Leadership and Brain Based Coaching to facilitate and promote psychological safety in the workplace and increase engagement.

Andrew Bate
SwarmFarm Robotics

As founder and CEO of SwarmFarm Robotics, Andrew Bate is the chief visionary, leveraging his experience as a successful grain and cattle farmer and his deep knowledge of robotics to drive the successful development of the SwarmBot. Andrew has spent a life time in agriculture; he has trained as an agronomist at the University of Queensland, and has spent the last 20 years farming near Emerald, Central Queensland. In 2015 he founded SwarmFarm Robotics as a Startup technology company to commercialize robots for agriculture. Today, SwarmFarm Robotics has grown to be one of the leading robotic companies around the world with real working robots now being delivered to commercial farmers. In 2018 he was awarded Australian Agripreneur of the Year at the Future Agro Challenge and in 2019 he came third overall in the world finals for the 2019 Global Agripreneur of the Year award.

Nick Meara
Thomas Borthwick and Sons facility – NH Foods Australia

Nick Meara joined NH Foods Australia as the General Manager of the Thomas Borthwick and Sons facility in January 2021. Nick has an extensive background in meat and livestock production, processing and total supply chain management and has recently returned from working in the Middle East markets for Meat and Livestock Australia.
Nick graduated from the University of Queensland in 1998 with a Bachelor of Business in Agribusiness after spending five years with the Australian Agricultural Company working in livestock production. After university Nick worked in commodity trading with Riverina Stockfeed and business development with Stanbroke Pastoral Company. In 2004 Nick joined OSI International Foods and over five years engaged in major projects for the supply of value-added meat protein products to major Japanese food corporations and McDonalds Australia. From this role Nick took on the position of General Manager of Asian Pacific Exports, a Queensland based domestic meat processor for five years. Prior to joining NH Foods, Nick spent two years consulting to the Abu Dhabi Government in the commercial utilisation of meat and livestock production in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi before joining MLA Middle East office as Regional Manager, working across market access, trade awareness and facilitation, value chain solutions and brand building to further increase the presence and market share of Australian red meat in that market.

Industry case study

Cathy Weis
Sugar Research Australia

Cathy Weis is employed as Sugar Research Australia’s Head of Strategy, Insights and Engagement, where she leads the organisation’s communications, engagement and strategic functions. Having grown up and raised a family in regional Queensland, she’s passionate about employment opportunities, and skills development and retention in the regions to support prosperous local communities. Cathy has 25 years’ experience in media and communications, working in print and broadcast journalism, before moving to corporate communications in electricity and subsequently the defence industry. Spending her early television career in sugarcane heartland in Mackay, Cathy built early career knowledge of the sugarcane industry and its importance to strong regional communities. Cathy’s employment experience spans media and community relations, stakeholder engagement, events, internal communications, social media, marketing, strategy and change.

Skilled for the future: supporting an adaptable, professional, commercial and entrepreneurial sugarcane industry and research community
As Australia’s specialist sugarcane research organisation, Sugar Research Australia invests in evidence-based research, development and adoption activities on behalf of sugarcane growers and millers to meet industry challenges and opportunities.

A key pillar and focus under our strategy is supporting an industry that is skilled for future. That requires growing employee and industry awareness of emerging and transferable technologies and innovation from other industries, sectors and regions.

The industry’s first shared vision and roadmap – Sugar Plus: Fuelling the Future of Food, Energy and Fabrication highlights enormous growth opportunities from the bioeconomy and a Net Zero future. Industry’s ability to capitalise on these opportunities requires that we build new capability and skills, attract investment and collaborate across and beyond our current supply chain.

Attraction – Growing a diverse and inclusive future agriculture workforce

Keynote speaker

Mark Puncher
Employer Branding Australia

Mark Puncher is a Dad, a CEO and a big fan of gin. He’s spent much of the last 20 years with one hand in marketing, the other in talent attraction and engagement, and both feet in leadership. He has run marketing or employer branding operations in the APAC and the UK for organisations including Guardian News & Media, Hobsons (formerly DMGT Group) and Hanson Wade. Mark lives and breathes employer branding and culture shaping. When he isn’t doing that, his current hobbies include finger painting, 5am ballet and building dens. He also has strong beliefs about the importance of wine.

Connected people perform better: How to attract great talent and keep them engaged, through authentic employer branding.
In our sector, attracting and retaining people has always been a challenge. But has it ever been harder than this? Whether you’re a small family business, a global corporate or anywhere in between, people matter most. In this engaging and practical session, Employer Australia CEO Mark Puncher will show you why, and help you rethink your approach to recruitment and retention. He says if he’s done his job, you’ll leave inspired to take action and equipped with examples of what works. You’ll also have written down specific actions to take to get started.