Peter Sommerville is well known to all of those involved in delivering the education projects funded by the Australian Wool Education Trust (AWET).  He has been both a Trustee and the Secretary of AWET since 2006.  Over those 18 years, he has contributed significantly to “hub and spoke” undergraduate education initiated by AWET through universities active in Agriculture, particularly sheep and wool.  In more recent times, Peter has played a pivotal role in AWET expanding its scope by actively engaging with fashion and design schools to encourage their students to experience wool and embrace it as a premier natural fibre.  Peter has also been the face of AWET to other education initiatives in sectors such as VET and schools.

The time has come for Peter to step down as Secretary, but AWET is fortunate that he will continue as a Trustee enabling it to draw on his considerable experience and knowledge of the range of programs that the Trust funds.

I am pleased to advise that Dr Kerry Hansford has taken up the role of AWET Secretary.  Kerry is well known to the wool industry having recently retired from AWEX after earlier roles with CSIRO, AWH and managing important joint industry projects.  Increasingly, you will hear from Kerry with regard to AWET activities.

Please join me and other Trustees in thanking Peter for his contribution thus far to education in the wool industry and also join us in welcoming Kerry to AWET.

Kerry can be reached at if you have projects that you would like to discuss.

Yours sincerely

Michael Jackson



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Successful SPA leadership program participants announced.

Sheep Producers Australia has selected 14 participants to be part of its Sheep Industry Leadership Program, to be run in 2018.

The successful applicants work throughout the sheepmeat value chain representing producers, agribusiness, researchers, marketing and communications and industry consultants – from all sheep producing states.

They include:

  • John Murdoch, NSW
  • Jock Munro, NSW
  • Peter Thornton, NSW
  • Allison Mudford, NSW
  • Steph Fowler, NSW
  • Johnny Gardner, Vic
  • Craig Hinchliffe, Vic
  • Catriona Nicholls, Tas
  • George Nichols, Tas
  • Louisa Street, Tas
  • Karen Smith, WA
  • Susanne Levett, WA
  • Sam Anderson, Qld
  • Graham Clothier, SA

Sheep Producers Australia President Allan Piggott said it was only the second year that the professional development program had been run, as part of the SPA and Meat & Livestock Australia joint initiative, Building Leadership Capability for the Sheep Industry.

“The initiative is designed to ensure the Australian sheep industry attracts, develops and retains people with the right leadership skills to contribute to the long-term viability of the industry,” Mr Piggott said.

“As part of a review undertaken by SPA two years ago, during its development of the Sheep Industry Strategic Plan 2020, it was determined that there were 150 leadership positions within the industry which were being filled by only about 50-60 people.

“So we know there is a real need to be investing in the current and future leaders of our industry to ensure the sheep industry has a strong, united voice to government and service providers.”

The program is run by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation and occurs over three sessions – two face-to-face and one online.

The first face-to-face session is in Queensland in February 2018, where participants will embark on an outdoors experiential learning experience and classroom activities understanding their role in the industry.

Session two will be held in March and April where participants will be guided through online programs and the final session is set for May and will coincide with a range of SPA Board and other leadership activities.

Each of the 15 positions in the program is valued at more than $10,000 which covers all training, course materials and travel to the two face-to-face sessions.

To find out more about SPA’s investment in leadership programs, visit

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Fostering innovation through the value chain

The 32nd Biennial Conference of the Australian Society of Animal Production, Animal Production 2018, will take place from July 2-4 at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales.

The 2018 Organising Committee have commenced planning a dynamic program that will bring scientists, educators, social scientists, extension experts, consultants, consumer advocates, processors and producers together to share the latest information on all aspects of animal production.The conference tagline, fostering innovation through the value chain, will deliver a cross-species focused program sourcing international and national speakers on topics such as:
– Opportunities for innovation in animal production – a cross-species view
– Understanding the consumer: social, economic and animal welfare in animal production industries
– Mixed farming and grazing systems: integration, management, innovation
– The value of big data and its potential as a resource

Conference submissions are now being called for. The paper submission timeline has been released.

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