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Industry expertise and connections: TAFE Queensland’s role in Solomon Islands’ meat safety

TAFE Queensland, in collaboration with the National Meat Industry Training Advisory Council (MINTRAC), recently delivered a customised program aimed at equipping employees of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock with Australian industry-standard meat inspection skills. 

This initiative, funded by the World Bank, represents a significant step toward enhancing meat safety practices in the Solomon Islands.

The Certificate III in Meat Safety Inspection (AMP30322) course was delivered at TAFE Queensland’s Toowoomba campus from February to May this year and included an intensive series of practical sessions for the participants at processing facilities across South West Queensland.

TAFE Queensland Meat and Food Processing Teacher, Sheldon Becker, emphasised the program’s significance in advancing meat production standards within the Solomon Islands community.

“The four graduands of our inaugural international meat safety program are future leaders in their respective industry, stewards of quality, and custodians of responsibility,” said Mr Becker.

“The course has equipped them with specialised skills not only in relation to meat inspections skills, but also animal welfare expectations, to ensure high standards of meat safety and animal welfare are upheld in the Solomon Islands’ meat processing industry.”

MINTRAC CEO, Mick Crouch said the organisation was proud to play a role in helping shape the program.

“This project follows on from a broader program of work that MINTRAC has been commissioned to deliver in the Solomon Islands and other Pacific Island countries,” explained Mr Crouch.

“With a focus to uplift the workforce skills and capabilities of the meat industry in the Pacific, MINTRAC will continue to partner with overseas agriculture ministries and highly skilled training delivery partners, like TAFE Queensland, to facilitate future initiatives of this nature.”

TAFE Queensland Regional Director of Infrastructure, Primary Industries and the Burnett Region, Phil McGahan, said the organisation was well-positioned to deliver the training.

“We welcomed the opportunity to work together with MINTRAC and the Solomon Islands government to deliver this important training initiative,” said Mr McGahan.

“Our trainers, such as Sheldon, are closely connected with industry and have decades of experience and expertise to share with students.”

“Furthermore, our trainer’s connections within the industry enabled the students to have comprehensive practical experience throughout the program."

“I would particularly like to acknowledge Greg Carey of Carey Bros Meat Processing in Yangan, Jonathan Gray from Toowoomba Poultry and Tamara Schultz from Golden Cockerel Poultry for providing hands-on experience at their facilities.”

“We would also like to thank Warren Farr and Scott Booth of Kentmaster Equipment Australia — their support has also been instrumental in our students’ success.”

Kentmaster Australia's, Scott Booth, with the program participants, during a visit to the company's facilities.

The graduands of the program, James Poghula, Fred Maedola, Carlos Fa’Alimae and Steve Wate, were awarded their certificates, along with their own copy of Meat Safety Quality and Veterinary Public Health in Australia on behalf of MINTRAC, in a ceremony at the Toowoomba campus on Tuesday, 14 May 2024.

From left to right: MINTRAC CEO, Mick Crouch, Fred Maedola, Steve Wate, Deputy Secretary of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Elda Wate, James Poghula, Carlo Fa'Alimae, High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, Robert Sisilo, and TAFE Queensland Meat and Food Processing Teacher, Sheldon Becker.

The ceremony was attended by special guests including the High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, Robert Sisilo, Deputy Secretary of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Elda Wate, MINTRAC CEO, Mick Crouch, TAFE Queensland General Manager of International Education, Russell McKay and TAFE Queensland General Manager of the South West Region, Jenni Butler.

The training project aligns with the construction of a new abattoir facility in the Solomon Islands. This modern facility will promote hygienic and supervised meat processing and veterinary public health considerations.