The final report for this project has been submitted and accepted. It is up to government now to consider the report, its findings and recommendations. We also provided the information from written input from people in response to the draft so that decisions could be made about what recommendations to accept and how to best roll these out. This input also impacted on the final recommendations in the report.
It is good to see that the initial pilot graduate program referred to and supported in the review has commenced. There was great support from organisations wanting to be a part of the program and a lot of very qualified and interested graduates applied for the program. Also, the initial extension and technical training workshops are in the process of being finalised and will be provided across the regions over the next months. Both of these initiatives will be evaluated to assess their effectiveness and lessons for future programs.
One of the recommendations made in this report is about supporting more ‘peer to peer’ producer learning programs. Constant feedback is the value of producers learning from each other – and this is supported in programs throughout the world. Peer to peer learning projects could be initiated from producer groups themselves or by extension/advisory personnel who actively encourage producers to participate. The aim is to provide on-going opportunity for producers to meet, set the agenda for what they wish to learn more about (in the context of improved productivity, profitability and water quality), discuss and then undertake activities together to explore these topics/approaches further. This is different to a workshop or shed meeting or field day where an ‘expert’ provides information and recommendations (although this still has an important place). It is about facilitating producers to look at their own learning interests/needs, planning joint activities (for example: trials or demonstrations on farms; visits to see new technologies/approaches; visiting each others’ farms and discussing different approaches and options) – and tracking the impact of these activities.
More of these findings will be discussed and worked through at the APEN extension conference in Townsville in September. Hopefully some good things will come out of it all.