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On-station delivery supports remote NT students

Claire Dennerley on-station with cattle.
Station technical assistant at Newcastle Waters Station in the Northern Territory and CDU student Claire Dennerley is one of 250 students completing a qualification in Rural Operations or Agriculture at CDU.

Station technical assistant Claire Dennerley, 29, found herself working on a 1,033,101ha cattle breeding property in the North Territory’s west Barkly region earlier this year.

Ms Dennerley moved to the Territory from South Australia when she secured a job at Newcastle Waters Station, south of Daly Waters.

The CDU student is undertaking a Certificate II in Rural Operations delivered on-station, with about 25 peers, who all live on remote livestock properties across the NT, supporting these students to more easily complete their education close to home.

CDU is currently delivering its on-station traineeship and workplace assessment program on 45 cattle properties. The program, which annually includes about 250 students, covers Certificates II, III and IV in Agriculture and Certificates II and III in Rural Operations. 

Every working day is different for Ms Dennerley, with her work varying from office and yard duties, to mustering and attending to cattle.

Ms Dennerley is focused on delivering two projects on-station: one aims to improve cattle nutrition and the other is focused on data management.

“I grew up in Sydney, so it’s giving me a baseline set of skills that I may not otherwise have had the chance to develop,” Ms Dennerley said.

“There’s everything in the course from cattle handling and fencing, to vaccinating cattle and mustering with environmental sustainability, to instruction in what to do if you find a sick animal.

“It’s helping me enhance and expand my skill in what’s expected as part of my day-to-day work on-station and it’s also helping me fill the gaps in my knowledge.

“I didn’t have skills in fencing, for example, and it’s enabled me to gain exposure to new skills in fencing.”

Ms Dennerley said her trainer, CDU VET Lecturer Georgia Anderson travels 400 kilometres one way from Katherine to visit her on-station. Together, trainer and student concentrate on practical skills during the day, and after Ms Dennerley finishes work, they run through the theory components of the study units.

“If Georgia and CDU wasn’t coming out to the station, I wouldn’t be enrolled in the course as the sheer remoteness of where we are located would make studying difficult, so it’s great that there is that flexibility,” she said.

“The trainers have all worked on different stations, so they understand station life and how physical it is, and they understand that you’re tired from working all day and what you’re feeling.”

CDU Lecturer in Agriculture and Rural Operations Georgia Anderson made the move north after completing agriculture school and has been working on stations since 2015 to better understand the industry. 

“It is still only early days and I have only just completed my second station visit for the year, but everyone is tracking along well, keeping up to date with the theory components and their practical skills are very much improving,” Ms Anderson said.

CDU Associate Vice-Chancellor for Katherine and Big Rivers region Alison Haines said the course meets industry needs and provides a starting point for many careers in agriculture and rural industries. 

“Our training programs give people beginning work in the industry a solid foundation in what they need to know and the skills they need to succeed,” Ms Haines said.  

“For those with more experience, undertaking a workplace-based qualification highlights pathways to further career opportunities, and helps engage people in the industry, which supports long-term staff retention.

“We believe that by helping our students grow and succeed, we also help the northern pastoral industry and the NT progress, grow and succeed.”

More information here

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