Jorja on Working in Agriculture
Wemba Wemab land (Lalbert, Victoria)
Mental health, rural health, agriculture
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I completed year 12. I had been accepted into Wagga & Armidale to complete my Bachelor of AG & accepted into Bendigo for Social Working. But I just wasn’t ready to go & do another 4 years of schooling, nor was I sure what pathway I wanted to go down.
Life after School
After year 12 I went over to Cambodia for 3 weeks as an alternative to schoolies and a passion grew for social working but again wasn’t sure if that’s the path I wanted to take yet. I got a job with the local stock agent just helping him at the fat markets Wednesday/Thursday & when he needed a hand out with clients on the farm. The job with the agent lead me into a job as a roustabout with a team of older shearers. I absolutely loved going out in the sheds & having yarns with the cockies. I gained so much knowledge from this experience. It was by chance that an Elders stock agent was at the shed I was working at and I thought perhaps that is the career path I want to go down. So I got his number from the farmer, gave him a call, met up with him at the next sale and within 2 weeks of that meeting they were giving me a month’s trial. The rest is history.
I grew up on our family farm hating Ag, I had no desire whatsoever to be involved. When I reached my later teenage years the school employed an excellent Ag teacher who was hands-on and had been in the industry for years herself. I also grew up in a family & community that had a strong emphasis on “We’re always going to need farmers” so that really stuck with me, I knew that there were always going to be jobs in Agriculture. Stronger connections with my family & community were made because everyone lived & breathed Ag. I felt like every conversation was somehow about Ag. I knew, because of this it would look like I knew what I was talking about when I first got involved in the Agriculture industry.
I currently work with Elders in a Livestock Admin role but am about to begin training to become a Livestock Production Adviser. My current role however sees me going out with the stock agents and giving them a hand out on the farm. Working in the saleyards 2 days a week helping with the delivery, drafting & selling of stock then processing any sales that come through the branch. Similarly, with that we do Ram & Clearing sales which are my favourite events of all.
My job is different to what I thought I would be doing. I thought I’d probably be working in rural & remote communities being a social worker. I do really love my job even though it’s very male dominated. I’m excited to see where the upcoming training can take me.
I am still very passionate about mental health in rural & remote communities and I feel like it is a grey area that often gets missed. In my job you’re not just advising people about their stock, you really form a connection with them where a trust is built and they really lean on you for advice – nothing that a yarn over a cuppa can’t fix sometimes. Farmers and their families are tough cookies, they have numerous challenges thrown at them so who knows I might end up being a mental health facilitator in Ag or just keep living the dream in a pink shirt having the best of both worlds.
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