Gone are the days of males dominating work on cattle stations with a boost in Territory females jumping into the cattle industry.
The number of female apprentices choosing life on the land has jumped from 68 to 105 across the Territory in the past year, a rise of 54 per cent.
In the same time period, male primary industries apprentice numbers were steady at 189 to 187.
Today at Charles Darwin University (CDU) Katherine campus some of the female apprentices were learning how to artificially inseminate Brahman cattle to improve genetics in the herd.
CDU workplace trainer and assessor Kayla Kurnof has years of experience working on cattle stations running camps and has been part of a team of four teaching the new female CDU apprentices.
“It has been good to see females getting leadership roles on stations, it shows credibility in their skills,” Ms Kurnof said.
It seems like the fellas are chasing money in the mines, but girls are here to learn about cattle and horses.Kayla Kurnof
“It seems like the fellas are chasing money in the mines, but girls are here to learn about cattle and horses.”
Students in the pre-employment course undertake practical, hands-on placements, experience living and working on cattle stations, gain real-life skills and a greater understanding of the NT pastoral industry.
“Women make a significant difference to a station,” Ms Kurnof said.
“These girls want to work.
“It doesn’t matter if you are a male or a female, it’s all about skills, but girls in particular are kind to animals, and as of late there has been a shift in animal welfare.”
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Katherine local Maddie Harley has had her sights set on owning her own cattle station since a young age.
She started her CDU apprenticeship during her last year of high school to get a head start. Finished now, she is attending CDU on a full time basis to complete her certificate three in agriculture.
“My family have always run cattle stations and that is what really sparked my interest,” she said.
“There has always been a stigma that men can do more especially on cattle stations. But we are proving we can do it just as well.
“I am a firm believer that if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life. The skills I am learning now will help me in the future when I work on stations.”
The students have been busy getting the cattle ready for the wet season, as well as getting hands on experience in breeding, vaccinations and feeding ratios.
The women and men who work on stations come from a diverse range of backgrounds, from school leavers right through to chefs, nurses and lawyers looking for a change.
Reanna Brumpton moved to the Territory from Tasmania and took up the apprenticeship with no background in the cattle industry.
The 23-year-old said she had always had an interest in the cattle industry, but it was the development of skills from the ground up which cemented her decision to start the course.
“I definitely aim to continue working on stations. I like the variety in the work and of course I love working with cattle.
“It feels pretty special to be coming into the industry at such a turning point when females are really getting their go.
“Men are really needed in the industry, but it is just as important to have a mix,” she said.
CDU agriculture and rural operations team leader Alison Hains said the variety in job roles in the industry is a motivating factor for females interested in taking up the career.
“Work places are becoming more flexible... there are more data jobs and technical assistants, and a lot of them tend to be women,” she said.
“There has been an increased focus on safety and animal welfare (on stations). The industry is changing in that it isn’t as hard as it used to be.”
The pre-employment courses are designed to develop the skills required to start work on a Northern Australia beef cattle property or in the Top End agriculture industry.
“One of our biggest programs is the work place apprenticeship program with a certificate two, three and four in agriculture,” Ms Hains said.
“We have had some  people commence training with us at the start of 2018 across roughly 40 stations in the NT.
“We’re training them up and giving them the experience they need to get out and work on the cattle stations and have a go.”
The latest data shows there was a rise in female apprentices and trainees in all fields from 883 to 1049 in the past year, meaning one third of all Territory apprentices are now females.
The growth in popularity of primary industries among women makes it the fourth most popular field for female apprentices and trainees, behind community, health and education, sales and personal service, and business and clerical.
There are currently 3400 apprentices and trainees in the Territory.
Last month, Minister for Workforce Training Selena Uibo, and the Federal Minister for Skills and Vocational Education, Michaelia Cash, signed a $5.8 million bilateral agreement which will see Territory apprenticeship numbers boosted by up to 2000 over the next three years.
“We have been working to meet industry demand for apprentices and trainees by instituting a co-ordinated approach between the government, Charles Darwin University and the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network to get young Territorians into vocational training,” Ms Uibo said.
“Our Skilling Territorians initiative released earlier this year included a suite of programs and services to support apprentices and trainees, as well as incentives to employers to take them on.
“A workforce of trained, skilled Territorians not only benefits our young people, it benefits our businesses and employers and the Territory economy as a whole.”
Ms Uibo said in addition to Territorians taking up agricultural apprenticeships through CDU, people were coming across from Qld and WA as well as other states.
“This really shows that this program is at the peak in being able to support skills and training for the cattle and primary industries.
“It is fantastic news for the Territory but in particular for Katherine and the region here.”
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