Beef 2021 program aims to mentor future beef leaders

Jon Condon, 09/06/2020


The recipe: One part youthful exuberance, one part unbridled enthusiasm and optimism; and one part wisdom, tempered by experience. Mix well.

It’s a powerful cocktail, and the results will be seen at Beef Australia 2021 in Rockhampton next May when the cohort of participants involved in the next Graeme Acton Beef Connections Mentoring program get together to measure their progress.

The Graeme Acton Beef Connections program, named after the much-admired late Queensland cattleman, is about developing the skills of young beef industry stakeholders by providing training and personal development opportunities, using a matched personal mentor to help them achieve their goals.

Graeme Acton, who died after a campdraft accident in 2014, was renowned for supporting young people in entering the beef industry and generously sharing with them his extensive knowledge.

The program, which was launched at Beef 2015, is a great opportunity for young beef industry stakeholders to develop their skills and knowledge, enabling them to become more effective in their current and future roles in the beef industry.

Nominations open

There is still plenty of time to nominate for one of the ten positions available under the 2021 program.

Coordinator Barb Bishop said nominations will remain open until 17 June. Click the link below to access application details.

The last event held three years ago attracted more than 30 applicants from across Australia, with nine young people, 35 years or younger, chosen to participate. This year’s early entries have come from across Queensland, plus Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

Ms Bishop said the program was also looking for potential mentors from across the meat and livestock industry – people with broad industry experience and specialist skills who were willing to work with a young person to foster their development. The final choice of mentors for each applicant is based on ‘best fit’ for the nature of their project, so it is important to have a broad skill-set on tap, she said.

The Graeme Acton Beef Connections program, supported by Westpac Agribusiness, is designed to:

  • Provide a structured approach to support the personal and professional development of young people in the Australian Beef Industry
  • Empower future industry leaders in their agricultural careers
  • Build confidence and enhances self-esteem of all participants
  • Facilitate network development
  • Provide a variety of learning opportunities
  • Support the Mentor Partners through the learning journey (supported by their Mentors)

Each applicant must put forward and develop a project around which they will focus their attention with the help of their mentor.

The Mentoring Program runs over 15 months, providing participants with:

  • Four face-to-face workshops (pending travel restrictions) in Brisbane
  • Attendance at Beef Australia 2021 in Rockhampton
  • Completion of their chosen project
  • A supportive relationship with mentors
  • Participation in monthly learning and review webinars.

Subject to COVID-19 restrictions easing, an initial workshop involving all chosen mentees and their mentors is planned for Brisbane in August, with an online-only format being retained as an option if travel restrictions still apply.

Each successful applicant will deliver a project report during an event at Beef 2021 next May, before bringing their projects to completion during Brisbane Show in August next year.

Some examples of previous project topics chosen by mentees include:

  • Beef product credibility in the marketplace
  • Paddock language interpretation of processor feedback to help production meet specifications
  • Establishing the Women of Lot Feeding organisation
  • Developing a business model to kick-start young people into beef production
  • Developing a local beef cooperative
  • Optimising the management of livestock in pre-export quarantine.

Click here for information and application forms. For inquiries about the program, contact Barb Bishop via details on the web page.

Click the link below to view a short video featuring the experiences of some past participants:


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  1. Bede McAlpin, 09/06/2020

    Having been personally involved in this program in 2018, I can recommend this to anyone looking to further develop there networking, communication and leadership skills. Best of luck to all participants for 2021. I look forward to watching you progress.

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