Rockhampton beef extension officer David Hickey has earned a national industry award in recognition of his outstanding work on the recently completed CQ Beef project.
Mr Hickey, from the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI), triumphed in a field that included extension professionals from across Australia to collect the Australasia-Pacific Extension Network (APEN) trophy for Excellence in Extension by an Experienced Professional.
“To be recognised by your peers at a national level is a truly humbling experience, and is something I’m delighted about,” he said.
“I accepted the award on behalf of the CQ Beef project team, as it was their diligent work and resilience that helped make it such an innovative, world-class project and one that achieved significant outcomes.”
The CQ Beef project focused on improving the output and profitability of beef producers in Central Queensland by increasing the adoption of best practices and technology.
It is part of DEEDI’s statewide FutureBeef initiative to share research knowledge and promote current technologies and best management practice to lift beef industry profitability.
Mr Hickey will be showcasing some of the project's outcomes at the Beef Australia 2012 exhibition in Rockhampton from May 7-12 next year.
“The thing that made CQ Beef so special was that, although the start point and end goal were clearly defined from the outset, the methodology used throughout the four-year project was very much driven by the graziers.
“We didn’t walk in there with a pre-conceived notion of how things should be done because we knew that simply telling people what to do wouldn’t work.
“Our ongoing monitoring and evaluation afforded us a lot of flexibility, and allowed the graziers to take more ownership of the project.”
CQ BEEF was an extension project developed and implemented by (DEEDI) in the Fitzroy River Basin region of Central Queensland from 2006 to 2010, and received funding and support from the Fitzroy Basin Association.
A total of 137 producers across 67 businesses were involved in the project.
At the awards forum in Armidale New South Wales, Mr Hickey presented a poster on the extension method of CQ BEEF, conducted a one hour workshop on project development and presented a paper on the CQ BEEF monitoring and evaluation process.
“One of the most prominent issues facing the beef research community and the industry as a whole is the lack of adoption of practises that will improve the productivity and sustainability of beef businesses and the industry.
“That was the driving force behind the CQ Beef project, and the evidence suggests that it has been very successful in increasing the uptake of best practices within the industry,” he said.
Although Mr Hickey has been working as an extension officer for the past 14 years, he admits that he learnt a lot from the project.
“One of the biggest things we learnt was that you can’t affect change unless there is a commitment to do so from both producers and delivery staff,” he said.
“Using a range of engagement tools is essential and it’s also important that analysis focuses on a whole-of-business level, so that producers can get the bigger picture.
“We also found that the ‘pull’ approach is much more effective than the ‘push’ one, as business will be more likely to come along for the ride when they can see the overall benefits.”
Mr Hickey added that one of the most satisfying aspects of CQ Beef was that its package of principles was transferrable to other industries where adoption of practices and technologies was essential.
“By using a fairly holistic approach our method can quite easily lend itself to other industries and situations,” he said.
“The award is testament to the success of the CQ Beef project and the hard work of the team.”