Saleyards not just about buying and selling

Saleyards research project identifying unique mateship support

Beef News
Lots of topics are raised along the saleyards rail.

Lots of topics are raised along the saleyards rail.

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Research is showing that the mateship support that saleyards provide is beneficial in a way that no other community gathering offers for men in rural settings.

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Research is showing that the mateship support that saleyards provide is beneficial in a way that no other community gathering offers for men in rural settings.

Heather Ellis is the consultant for a research project that aims to quantify the value that saleyards have to the social fabric of rural communities and she said they were finding that saleyards create their own community.

"I don't have the factual data yet but there's a real benefit for people with things in common," she said. "Festivals and shows do it too, but this is different in a way - I think it's about the ongoing mate support."

Ms Ellis was at Blackall last week for the second set of interviews in a series that began at the Coolabunia Saleyards near Kingaroy, with a brief from the Australian Livestock Markets Association to capture what sale day means to community members, service providers and stakeholders.

Local interviewers Alexa Russell and Jenny Keogh with ALMA's northern and western field officer Ian Lovegrove, research consultant Heather Ellis, and Blackall-Tambo CEO Des Howard at the Blackall Saleyards for last week's weaner sale.

Local interviewers Alexa Russell and Jenny Keogh with ALMA's northern and western field officer Ian Lovegrove, research consultant Heather Ellis, and Blackall-Tambo CEO Des Howard at the Blackall Saleyards for last week's weaner sale.

She arrived with the understanding that real data was needed to back up anecdotal evidence, saying that most studies concentrated on the economic benefits of saleyards.

"Saleyards don't just provide monetary transactions or business transactions - there are so many more benefits that happen," she said. "When we hear of saleyards being closed or that they're no longer able to operate, there's a lot of community outrage but there's no information to say what the benefits are or the impacts are on communities when saleyards no longer exist."

READ MORE: Council challenges Beaudesert Saleyards heritage listing

Ms Ellis and fellow interviewers spoke to over 20 people in Blackall, including vendors, agents, community members and partners.

Once she is able to visit Dubbo in NSW and Warrnambool in Victoria later in the year she will be able to make comparisons, but Ms Ellis said she already knew other states didn't have as many support services such as health checks built into sale days as Queensland does.

"I'm seeing that it's working well when support services, financial counsellors too, aren't wearing any labels," she said. "When relationships can be built, it makes a difference."

Blackall-Tambo Regional Council CEO Des Howard said taking the saleyards out of Blackall would mean a direct loss of 50 or so people to the community.

"Fact-finding is not a bad thing - we'll certainly use the results," he said. "Even negative feedback is constructive."

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Mr Howard is a regular attendee on sale days and said people would be surprised to see how many people, mostly men, visit the tent run by rural health specialist Dave Kerrigan.

Last week he was accompanied by doctors doing basic health checks for blood pressure and blood sugar.

"They have a yarn too," Mr Howard said. "The big thing is, they pick up people that would never go in for a check-up."

An online survey is available for people across Australia to complete, so that a wide range of views can be collected for the project.

ALMA president Ken Timms said the final report would be a valuable tool in working with all levels of government and the livestock industry to help shape future policy and funding directions.

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The story Saleyards not just about buying and selling first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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