North Coast Community College opens Primary Industries Training Centre

North Coast Community College, in collaboration with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, has launched a new unique vocational education and training (VET) program of Certificate III training qualifications.

The new training program was officially opened at the new North Coast Community College (NCCC) Primary Industries Training Centre in Wollongbar, northern NSW, by the Hon. Ben Franklin MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for Energy and the Arts, on 3 September. Programs that the College will deliver from the new training centre include Certificate III in Indigenous Land Management, Certificate III in Conservation Land Management, Certificate III in Production Horticulture and Certificate III in Agriculture.

Extending its current relationship with NCCC, the NSW Department of Primary Industries has provided a newly refurbished training facility and 2.5 acres of land for students of the new program, which will be used to farm Indigenous bush foods. Unique to this collaboration and this area, is a nearby Big Scrub rainforest remnant. On this land, students will gain practical knowledge and skills in Indigenous land management, forest regeneration, land conservation and farming indigenous bush food.

NCCC’s CEO, Kate Kempshall, has worked on the collaboration for three years: “To see this project coming to life is quite overwhelming. In Australia, the average age of a farmer is 57 and in the Northern Rivers this average age is slightly higher. North Coast Community College’s collaboration with the Department of Primary Industries will provide essential, quality training for the next generation of farmers and traditional landowners in the Northern Rivers. The prospect of quality employment outcomes for participants is very real,” she said.

Background to the New Training Centre Programs

NCCC’s relationship with the local Indigenous community allows for significant focus on learning and implementing Indigenous techniques and traditions of land conservation and farming of native bush foods. This emphasis on traditional Indigenous land management and conservation will mark the training provider as one of the first movers in the industry.

Through the delivery of a training and employment support pathway for Aboriginal youth, NCCC will inspire and nurture new opportunities for independence and prosperity for the Aboriginal community in the Northern Rivers region. This collaboration aims to promote a stronger connection with Aboriginal communities to support cultural awareness. Delivering ‘on country’ together as a community, students will have the opportunity to learn and utilise their knowledge and skills to aid in the regeneration and rehabilitation of the land, particularly in response to recent bush fires and drought.

Tracy King, NCCC’s Cultural Trainer, said, “As a Bundjalung woman with cultural connections through kinship throughout the Bundjalung Nation, I am very passionate and a firm believer in Aboriginal cultural and heritage values to use as a tool for future generations.  I am excited to be given this opportunity to be part of the North Coast Community College program in this shared exchange of knowledge, which will enable community members to be involved and engaged in future opportunities to develop their skills.”

Tracy will work with students in gaining an understanding and appreciation of various bush foods and native plants and share in the opportunity to be involved in interesting workshops and courses with the broader community.

Just 1% of The Big Scrub remains in NSW, which used to be the largest expanse of lowland subtropical rainforest in Australia, covering more than 75,000 hectares. The forest is directly descended from the great Gondwana rainforest that covered Australia 40 million years ago.

These courses are subsidised by the NSW Government and gratefully funded (Indigenous Land Management) thanks to grant assistance from Northern Rivers Community Foundation and the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) via its Seed of Renewal 2019 Program, with funds provided by ANZ.

Media, distinguished guests and community members attended the opening of NCCC’s new training facility at the Department of Primary Industries, Wollongbar on 3 September. The occasion began with an opening ceremony and acknowledgement of country by Delta Kay, a local and proud Byron Bay Bundjalung woman. In attendance were NCCC’s CEO, Kate Kempshall; the Department of Primary Industries’ North Coast Manager Bill Quince; the Hon. Ben Franklin MLC (pictured below with Evelyn Goodwin, CCA Manager Policy & Projects; Ballina Shire Mayor, Cr. David Wright; graduates of NCCC’s programs; and current training staff.

(image above: The Hon Ben Franklin MLC, with Evelyn Goodwin, CCA)

(image above: Training Centre students and staff)

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