CDU saddles up new recruits in SA 

CDU remote lecturer in Agricultural and Rural Operations lecturer, Peter Dempster about to head off to the APY lands

Indigenous communities of the APY lands in north-west South Australia are set to benefit from a custom pastoral training program created in partnership between the Northern Territory’s Charles Darwin University (CDU), TAFE SA and various government departments.

A landmark agreement between the education providers and Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Land Management Unit aims to revive and maintain pastoral skills and take advantage of the region’s economic opportunities.

State and Commonwealth governments have backed the project, including TAFE SA, FarmBis, Department of Families and Communities, Department of Premier and Cabinet and Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Twenty of the unit’s staff began vocational training in early May, learning about rural operations, horse breaking, riding, horse care and safe work practices that will give open crucial employment pathways in the pastoral industry.

Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara is the collective name for all the people (Anangu) of the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara lands and who live on freehold title of about 103,000 sq km of north west South Australia.

The project is founded upon strong accountability, governance and support across the local community with senior Anungu (leaders) actively participating in training and supervision of station workers.

And the students have bright work prospects with 10 new pastoral businesses approved for development by the APY land management unit with a six further licences requested.

These businesses are recognised legal entities fully accountable for management of the resources, a significant development as the previous business arrangements had minimal accountability to the landholder.

And senior Anangu, once restricted to pastoral activities, were now key decision makers.

The training in horse breaking starts a major capacity-building program developed over 2008 with TAFE SA and CDU working to expand vocational training across diverse sectors in trades, healthcare and business.

Fully operational yards and animal handling facilities at Double Tank are already set up for the project to boost pastoral skill sets of local Indigenous people.

CDU rural lecturer, Peter Dempster said he was genuinely excited about the program because it was driven by the needs of local people.

“It’s been a long time in the planning, but we’ve worked closely with TAFE SA and the local community, and with horses and people organised, we are ready,” he said.

Successful students will enter work with a Cert II in Rural Operations.

Alice Springs-based CDU director of remote co-ordination, Paul Fitzsimons said partnerships between education providers and community groups were critical for positive educational outcomes.

“Through these partnerships, engaging Indigenous peoples, we will again see their great value and talents working in regional economies across Australia,” he said.

TAFE SA manager APY Lands Janet Skewes said it was the first time formal training had been conducted in the area.

"It is the first time we have been able to bring together elders, who were former stockman, and younger men to be involved in working with horses," she said.

"Elder involvement has been critical to the training's success. It wouldn't have worked without the Elders involved."

Ms Skewes said running the course in the people's own country has been of the utmost importance.