June 6, 2022
Researchers have proven what most country people probably already knew in their hearts, saleyards are critical to the social fabric of rural communities.
The Australian Livestock Markets Association (ALMA) released a report last week summarising research conducted by consultants BlueWren Connections at saleyards in five States.
BlueWren founder Heather Ellis – who is well-known in the South Burnett for the work she has done with the Red Earth Community Leadership Program – launched the research project at the Coolabunia Saleyards in July last year.
Since then Heather and her team have been talking to community members and stakeholders at saleyards across Australia, observing sales in progress and conducting an online survey.
“Research participants were passionate about the industry and connected to their saleyard community,” Heather said.
“Some people were sceptical and unsure about what ‘social value’ meant or how to measure social value. However, when the rapport developed, they gave freely of their stories and knowledge.”
The group spoke to individual producers, buyers, facility owners and stock inspectors as well as other industry representatives, health professionals, tourists and even police.
Their findings were broken down into five main categories:
- Socialising – The interaction with peers is linked to positive mental health
- Belonging and connection – Participants have a sense of “belonging” at saleyards
- Information sharing and networking – Networking and sharing information are main reasons for attending saleyards
- Impact of not being able to attend – Participants feel socially isolated, frustrated or angry if they cannot attend a sale due to COVID-19, a natural disaster or personal reasons.
- Services accessed at saleyards – Industry-related resources are provided at many saleyards, and in Queensland, health awareness days are held
The research was commissioned by ALMA, which is the national industry body for saleyard owners and operators.
Previous research had established that saleyards and livestock exchange facilities provided extensive economic value to regional Australia.
This report examined the social benefit of having operating saleyards.
The key findings backed the importance of saleyards to their local communities.
“Saleyards in rural Australia are often the backbone of rural communities and they provide substantial economic and social value to those who visit,” the report concluded.
“They are a place to connect and engage socially, uphold tradition, and share services and information that continues to grow the livestock industry, as well as maintain positive social, emotional and physical wellbeing.”