Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
- Farmers, fishers and foresters
- Collaboration ‘champions’
In 2019, the Farming Together Program was successful in securing funding from the Australian Government to implement a pilot mentoring program supporting cooperative and collaborative businesses in the agricultural sector. Over the space of 3 months, 15 mentee groups were matched with 9 mentors where:
- Participants came from seven Australian states and territories,
- Represented a diverse range of industries and sectors including fibre, horticulture, livestock, forestry, water, turf, holistic land management and logistics.
- Seven of the 15 mentorships had more than one mentee from the group attend mentoring sessions and three groups had four to six mentees attend the sessions.
The mentoring program aimed to facilitate and support the profitable and sustainable growth of collaborative primary producer driven business. Specifically, the mentoring program sought to match cooperative and collaborative businesses in the agricultural sector with experienced mentees in order to assist the collaborative entities in avoiding common pitfalls, validate their ideas, increase their exposure to new ideas and networks, accelerate business productivity, and support business sustainability.
The 12-week program involved fortnightly 1-hour mentoring sessions (via Skype, Zoom, phone and emails) between a mentor and one or more mentees from a collaborative business venture over the course of the program (6 meetings in total per mentorship). Differing from traditional mentoring programs, this program focused on the achievement of collaborative business goals, not individual professional development.
The Farming Together Program support team designed and implemented the Program. This included the development of the supporting material and matching mentors and mentees. Part of the implementation also included helping to establish program expectations with participants and assisting the mentor and mentees in setting clear goals together, working towards those goals, and providing support along the way. The Program provided the structure and flexibility to enable mentees and mentors to draw on their strengths to find the most effective way of working together.