Sandra Ireson
Hay Inc

Sandra Ireson owns and operates a beef cattle and sheep enterprise near Booligal NSW with her husband and three adult children. Growing up on a Merino sheep property on the Monaro, Sandra studied Agriculture before working in the veterinary and animal health industry. Sandra has a keen interest in developing pathways for younger generations to gain a start in primary industries. In 2014 she co-developed the Hay Inc. Rural Education Program to address the challenge of markedly reduced numbers of young people entering or staying in agriculturally dependent communities. Sandra was awarded 2017 NSW/ACT Agrifutures Rural Women’s Award, building on the success of the Hay Inc. Rural Education Program she has developed “Engage Ag” – creating opportunities for a career in agriculture – promoting the initiative to other rural communities and industry. She also is involved in advisory groups including the NSW DPI Tocal College, ICPA & a producer member of the Southern Australia Livestock Research Council regional committee.

Sachin Ayachit

Sachin joined the Fair Farms Program as National Program Manager in December of 2021 with extensive knowledge and experience, and a background in the delivery of certification programs, accreditations, regulatory compliance, training, and implementation of quality systems for certification schemes in the agriculture sector. Since joining the program Sachin has hit the ground running and has behind some of the program’s most significant milestones to date including the program achieving more than 100 Certifications, the announcement of a National Conference to be held in October 2022 at Coffs Harbour, and the launch of the programs online Buyer and Auditor Portals. Sachin is currently working with more than 350 Fair Farms members and plans to continue to raise the national profile of the program while continuing to engage with growers and the more than 12,000 farm workers covered under the program

How to use the ethical sourcing certification program like Fair Farms to attract, retain and upskill workforce.
Australian farmers are currently facing a challenge never seen before – the challenge of trying to attract, retain and upskill the workforce. Workers are expecting good workplace systems, commitment to fair and ethical work practices, and safe working conditions with good WHS systems. The workplace and WHS regulations compliance is the next challenge that farmers also need to consider.

Ethical sourcing training and certification programs, like Fair Farms, not only offer effective solution to address the worker expectations but also assist with the workplace and WHS regulations compliance. In this session, Let’s explore how Australia’s only ethical sourcing program – Fair Farms – can help you attract, retain and upskill workforce.

Paul Sloman
Cotton Australia

Currently based in Brisbane, Paul Sloman is a Policy Officer for Cotton Australia where one of his areas of management is Workforce and Training. Having worked for 8 years with Cotton Australia and being associated with the Australian cotton industry for close to 30 years, Paul has an in depth knowledge of the current workforce challenges and opportunities that face the industry both today and into the future. Paul represents Cotton Australia on the National Farmers Federation Workforce Committee and Rural Jobs and Skills Alliance (RJSA). Paul’s passionate about attracting urban Australians to regional cotton growing regions to take up work of cotton farms and to replicate the very successful AgSkilled program in QLD.

Workforce Attraction Pilot Program – CottonJobs Australia
Cotton Jobs Australia is a joint initiative between Cotton Australia and the State of Queensland acting through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. The aim of this pilot program is to attract university students, final year school leavers and other Queenslanders to jobs available on Queensland and Australian cotton farms. Having just completed the first year, we have identified key opportunities and managed unforeseen challenges that will ensure greater success when CottonJobs Australia is rerun over the 2022/2023 university holiday break

Edmund Burke
Holding Redlich

Edmund Burke is a workplace lawyer with extensive experience in employee misconduct investigations, professional misconduct defence, bullying claims, discrimination, workplace and sexual harassment, managing employee performance management, discipline and dismissal. Edmund also practises in workplace health and safety, having defended companies, individuals and local councils in proceedings against non-compliance with the Work Health and Safety Act and safety incidents resulting in injuries to employees. Edmund has presented at national and international conferences on employment law and defamation law. He has an eclectic career background having worked as a journalist and writer for national publications in Ireland, the UK and Australia. Before joining private practice Edmund worked as the Director of Communications for Queensland Premier Anna Bligh with managerial responsibility for over one hundred communications professionals, providing advice directly to the Premier and Ministers on a daily basis.

Casual, Permanent or Contractor – What it means, & why it matters!

A worker’s job classification can often be unclear, but did you know, getting it wrong can have a major impact on your business?

Did you know the High Court recently clarified the law regarding an employee’s legal status?

This session will explain the basics of employee classifications, and why it matters for employers.

We will also touch on the pros and cons of modern workforce trends, such as:

  • ‘gig economy’
  • working from home
  • flexible working arrangements, and
  • the potential impact on the agricultural sector.

Luciano Mesiti
Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia

Luciano is the CEO of Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia (PIEFA), whose aim is to promote food and fibre education in schools nationally. Prior to his appointment as CEO, he was a high school teacher, teaching agriculture and technology subjects. As well, he was president of the NSW Agriculture Teachers Association and a Lighthouse teacher of excellence in the NSW Dept of Education. Luciano has extensive experience in curriculum development in agriculture and horticulture and STEM and is a very passionate advocate of students knowing about where their food comes from and about the extensive careers available in agriculture. PIEFA’s main education resource website is: .

Showcasing Career Harvest programs – linking schools with careers in agriculture, food and fibre.
Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia is a not for profit education organisation that serves to promote food and fibre knowledge in schools. It does this through several educational programs via its Primezone website and through its Career Harvest website which promotes and informs about food and fibre careers. Career Harvest is a one stop shop with career pathway information, scholarships, jobs page and gap year links, and links to many careers videos. This presentation will showcase the Career Harvest program.

Dane Ivicevic
UQ Skills

Dane Ivicevic is the Chief Executive Officer of UQ Skills at The University of Queensland and brings over 17 years’ experience in the Vocational Education and Training sector. Dane’s role at UQ Skills is to lead and oversee the management and success of UQ Skills, a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) which is committed to producing innovative and adaptable skilled workers, leaders and graduates through vocational education and training. This includes identifying and creating new models of complementary skills training for higher education students as well as implementing industry-focused skills training and pathways for the broader community.  As an experienced vocational education and training leader, and trainer and assessor, Dane has overall accountability for the implementation of UQ Skills’ strategic direction within the University, RTO compliance and business management. He strives to provide best practice training and assessment design, development and implementation.

The role solutions focused skills training has in business success
The world of agriculture is becoming fast paced and is changing dramatically, increasing the demands on businesses for compliance, practical skills and knowledge.  Many employers feel a sense of urgency to improve workplace inductions, mentoring and training opportunities due to ever-demanding compliance needs and staffing changes. This is especially pertinent when the agri-workforce is no longer an industry where job seekers arrive asking for work. The ever increasing skills gap in modern agriculture has led to a growing need for innovative applied skills training. This presentation aims to deconstruct the perceived complexities of formal education and showcase how innovative skills training can equip businesses with practical solutions to succeed and sustainably grow business capability from within.

Simone Parker

CHRRUP CEO Simone Parker has a passion for regional communities and progressing the opportunities available for the people who live and work in them. Simone works with her team to ensure CHRRUP fosters thriving and connected rural communities by offering resources that enhance agricultural enterprises. These initiatives have led to beneficial organisational progress in many agricultural businesses in the region. Simone’s long-standing connection to regional areas across the Northern Territory and Queensland is the driving force behind her interest in building strong, resilient and diverse communities. Her career has been focused on agricultural extension, business improvement and natural resource management. Simone has worked with the Northern Territory Department of Resources, Southern Gulf Catchments NRM group and as an associate with business consultancy firm Bush AgriBusiness. Simone holds a Bachelor of Business (Agricultural Commerce) and is an MBA candidate at CQ University.

LEADAg: Leading, Educating and Developing the next generation
LEADAg is a newly piloted program to boost introductory agricultural training in regional Queensland. The program was developed and facilitated by CHRRUP; a community-owned, central Queensland based profit-for-purpose organisation dedicated to advancing rural communities. Participation in the program provides young people with work ready skills and support from industry mentors. Not only do they benefit from the skills development but also build the confidence and capacity to choose a career in the agricultural industry. Ten students were chosen from almost 70 applicants to participate in the pilot program designed to deliver hands-on, practical training to prepare them for the workforce. The pilot ran for five full days in the first week of the April school holidays and was packed with sessions run by local industry mentors. The LEADAg pilot course was funded by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries through the Queensland Agricultural Workforce Network.

Dr Kieren Moffat

Kieren is a social and organisational psychologist by training and is the CEO and Co-founder of Voconiq, a data science and community engagement company created in 2019. Built on a platform of science Dr Moffat developed over a decade in CSIRO, Voconiq now works to bring the voices of communities inside the companies, industries and institutions that work alongside them on five continents across agriculture, mining and resources, infrastructure, and renewable energy industries. Dr Moffat has been at the forefront of academic research into and application of knowledge on social licence to operate issues for more than a decade. He has lead the three-year Community Trust in Rural Industries program of work with AgriFutures, and the Voconiq team have now extended these methods to agricultural workforce participation to inform discussion and action to ensure the sector can thrive in the future.

Building the future agriculture workforce in Australia
The Community Perceptions and Worker Experiences Project was initiated by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and coordinated through AgriFutures Australia. The aim of the project was to understand the key drivers of workforce participation in agricultural industries among future, former, and current workers across all parts of this broad set of industries. The work also sought the perspectives of the broader Australian community on what makes working in agriculture attractive or otherwise. Using large scale online surveys, Voconiq conducted this research in May and June 2022, accessing the views of more than 3000 community members and workers. Key findings from this research will be presented including the drivers of workforce entry and retention, how liveability factors, services and workplace culture influence worker experiences, and broader community attitudes toward careers in agricultural industries. Additional insights from project collaborators Wallis and Seftons will be included.

Ingrid Gow
Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia

Ingrid is a University of New South Wales graduate with a PhD in Entomology and Bachelor of Education from the University of Capetown. Working in South Africa and Australia she has over 20 years of experience in both agricultural research and education.  Ingrid’s research focused on cotton agricultural landscapes enhancing opportunities for integrated pest management.  Using her experience in agriculture, Ingrid promoted agriculture and agricultural research in the classroom.  She has worked for the Primary Industry Centre for Science Education as well as teaching in numerous high schools.  She is passionate about helping young people find careers and opportunities within agriculture. Ingrid is based in Toowoomba with the Primary Industry Education Foundation Australia and currently promoting the AgCAREERSTART Gap Year program.  This program is a gap year program funded by the National Farmers Federation and Federal Government aiming to get young people working in agriculture.

Kate Gunn

Dr Kate Gunn grew up on a farm near Streaky Bay in South Australia and works as a Clinical Psychologist and Senior Research Fellow, in the Department of Rural Health at the University of South Australia. She leads a team of researchers who focus on working with rural people to find new, culturally appropriate ways of improving rural health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on farmers. In recent years Kate has led the development of the website, which is a free online resource designed with farmers, to help them adopt strategies to effectively manage multiple things beyond their control (like the weather!)