Since its launch in 2012, the Indonesia-Australia Pastoral Industry Student Program, an initiative of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, has seen 54 Indonesian agricultural students receive extensive hands-on training in the northern Australian cattle industry.
The program has invested heavily in building strong relationships between the Indonesian and Australian cattle industries, and has been well received by senior Indonesian Government officials, who have expressed their appreciation of the opportunities it provides for Indonesian students, many of whom are now working adults and employed in positions with strong Australia-Indonesian connections.
The program received a further boost in Jakarta this morning when Minister for Agriculture and Water Barnaby Joyce launched an alumni network for students who have completed their training under the initiative.
Minister Joyce said Australia understood the high importance Indonesia placed on building its cattle industry and beef production and supported a number of development assistance programs which support Indonesia’s goal of lifting its agricultural productivity and food security.
“The Indonesia–Australia Pastoral Industry Student Program supports the exchange of knowledge and skills between the Indonesian and Australian cattle industries,” Mr Joyce said.
The program is delivered by the NTCA and is one of several initiatives being funded by an Australian Government investment of $60 million into the Australia–Indonesia Partnership on Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector.
NTCA CEO Tracey Hayes said the program helped the Australian and Indonesian cattle industries to share knowledge and develop further relations.
“Indonesia is a great trading partner with Australia. The alumni program that we launch today will ensure strong bonds between our two countries that will continue for many years,” Ms Hayes said.
“Each year we host a new bunch of students and we don’t want to lose those connections. Every student selected for the program is studying animal science with a view to working in the cattle industry and we want to make sure those links are not lost.
“As Minister Joyce highlighted, since the program first started four years ago, we have had 54 students go through the course. Having a formal alumni network will help those students develop study and job opportunities, remain up to date with research and industry developments and involved in Australian and Indonesian government initiatives.
“We are immensely proud of this program and what it has already achieved. We hope to inspire these students and strengthen the cross industry relationships in Indonesia and Australia.”
The program involves a rigorous nine-week applied learning experience, comprised of three weeks of intensive pastoral industry training—including animal welfare and handling—followed by a six-week hands-on work experience placement at selected corporate and family-run cattle stations across northern Australia.
“Following on from the success of the programme to date, an additional 20 students will undertake the programme in 2016,” Mr Joyce said.
“I congratulate all those who have completed the training program so far. I am pleased this alumni programme will help graduates share their skills and knowledge to build productivity and security in the Indonesian cattle industry.
“The skills of these graduates are highly sought after by employers in Indonesia, including by Australian-based companies operating there.
“Some of the graduates who undertook the programme in 2012 and 2013 are now working fulltime with industry and government in Indonesia, including with the Indonesian offices of Meat and Livestock Australia.
“It’s a great example of how our two countries are working together to deliver mutually beneficial outcomes for our important cattle industries.
“Both station hosts and students have found the opportunity for reciprocal hands-on learning, with cultural exchange and relationship building invaluable parts of this program.”
These exchange programmes can be very beneficial in building better communication between the countries involved if properly implemented and monitored by both countries. Before any significant payment is made on any of the proposed projects, a detailed check should be implemented to confirm that any of the future benefits that will be generated are meant to be available across the local industry, and not just concentrated on the staff of the dominant major cattle/agricultural companies in Indonesia.
For example, how many local university students currently studying agricultural basic food production, and heavy animal vetinary will be part of this programme?
An independent review is recommended to identify how many qualified local vets and agronomists are available to support the development of the chosen areas of investment by the Australian Government. Also how many Indonesian University Students have obtained Vetinary Degrees in Heavy Animal or Poultry Breeding, or Agricultural Food Development Degrees which are essential to improving the quality and increasing the volume of local food products for local consumption by each level of the socio- economic population.