Remote working gives ag workers a closer connection

Gregor Heard
By Gregor Heard
Updated April 23 2020 - 3:39am, first published April 22 2020 - 5:00am
Utilising technology to allow agribusiness workers to remain in rural areas can help boost their connection with clients.

HAVING employment with the scope to allow at least some time working remotely can help those working in non-production roles in the agriculture sector retain better links with their industry according to rural leaders.

Wool Producers Australia chief executive Jo Hall, who is primarily based in Crookwell, in the heart of NSW's rich wool-producing Southern Tablelands, said being based rurally allowed her to get a better understanding of what her members were really interested in.

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"This is a wool-producing area and when you're living amongst it you are better in touch with what is really concerning people rather than if you're based in the city where it is very easy to get in a bit of a bubble," Ms Hall said.

"I've always wanted to retain a link with the people I represent and being based here keeps you grounded, you don't get caught up too much in the issue of the day in Canberra."

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She said she saw big opportunities with wider acceptance of remote working.

"I'm really hopeful this will be a good way of either retaining our really good, bright kids with more of the job opportunities they deserve or on the other side attracting more people back, which will make for more vibrant communities."

Former mayor of the north-western Victorian shire of Yarriambiack Ray Kingston said it made sense for agribusiness to invest in rural areas where their income was derived.

"We want to create vibrant rural areas, you look at the statistics and they're fairly damning in terms of the urban / rural divide, it would be great if agribusiness could lead the way and create great jobs that can be done from the country," Mr Kingston said.

"I'd love to see us get to a point where people don't automatically think they have to move on from their employment in a small rural town to take the next step in the career.

"We're seeing now the tools are basically there, although better rural internet and mobile coverage is required still, we just need a bit of flexibility and some cultural change and we can start moving towards that goal."

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

National Grains Industry Reporter

Gregor Heard is Fairfax Ag Media's national grains industry reporter, based in Horsham, Victoria. He has a wealth of knowledge surrounding the cropping sector through his ten years in the role. Prior to that he was with the Fairfax network as a reporter with Stock & Land. Some of the major issues he has reported on during his time with the company include the deregulation of the export wheat market, the introduction of genetically modified crops and the fight to protect growers better from grain trader insolvencies. Still involved with the family farm he is passionate about rural Australia and its people and hopes to use his role to act as an advocate for those involved in the grain sector. Away from work, he is a keen traveller, having spent his long service leave last year in Spain learning the language.

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