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Local farmers reaping rewards of mentor program from East Gippsland Shire Council Agribusiness Development plan

A group of farmers have recently completed a mentoring course to help them recover from the bushfires, drought and floods.

By news@gippsland - 6th October 2022 - Back to News

Despite being held during the peak of the COVID-19 restrictions, 45 people from small farms and agribusinesses committed to the 12-month course held in three locations across the shire:

  • Tambo Valley district
  • Bairnsdale district
  • Cann River district

Participants were located as far away as Tubbut, W-Tree and Mallacoota.

Agribusiness Development plan is a 12 months of FREE mentoring support for your business from professional ION Group consultants

Agribusiness Development plan is a 12 months of FREE mentoring support for your business from professional ION Group consultants

Covered a number of key issues

Participants received intensive training, consulting and mentoring support. The program was a great success, with businesses planning over $14.2 million of additional business income and planning for 63 new full-time jobs over the next three years if all plans come to fruition.

The East Gippsland Shire Council program was delivered by ION Group with funding from Regional Development Victoria and council. Council's Agribusiness Development Officer, Kaylene Wickham, said the course covered a number of key issues.

"The program included one-on-one mentoring, so it was really tailored to the individual needs of each participant. Some of the key issues addressed included the need for extra farm labour, financial management, succession planning, improved business systems, marketing and diversification - particularly in agri-tourism and other additional income streams," Mrs Wickham said.

Adaption and improved resilience

Mrs Wickham said, "The program focused on helping participants develop a positive mindset to enable them to cope and make good decisions to navigate crises through adaption and improved resilience."

"A key to this is the concept of 'dis-entwining' personal from business decision-making, to build and adapt their businesses even when they face personal challenges, fears and threats."

Testimonials from attendees have been positive, with one person saying the program had moved their business forward about five years. "We had not seen any way that we could work together and combine our skills. My husband and I were each pursuing our individual career and work priorities. Now we have a new company that has exceeded all expectations and is delivering improved work-life balance - we could not be happier," the participant said.

Scale-back and reduce load

Another said their main issue was succession planning. "With expert help we realised that the business needed to become more important than our own individual positions. We negotiated a new business structure that enabled generational change and rewarded our parents and facilitated their desire to scale-back and reduce their physical load."

"The exciting outcome is that our whole family is now more solid than ever on how we want to build the business into the future - genetics, animal welfare and producing value became our 'ideal held in common'," they reported.

Re-engage and start rebuilding

Mrs Wickham said several participants had health and family issues and, over the 12-month course, were able to re-engage and start rebuilding their business with renewed optimism and skills. Almost half of the participants have asked for additional mentoring support in 2022-23.

The mentoring support will consolidate early gains and provide further practical guidance - especially in using the mindset tools and implementing the strategies and milestones in the 3-Year Adaptation Strategy developed for each business.

To learn about upcoming workshops and training for the agribusiness sector, contact council's Agribusiness Development Officer, Kaylene Wickham, on 03 5153 9500.

Pictures from East Gippsland Shire Council Facebook page.


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