Beef Australia announce 2023/2024 Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program cohort

Published 12 April 2023

Media Release

After an overwhelming response from across the nation and a rigorous selection process, Beef Australia have today announced the 2023/2024 Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program cohort.

Beef Australia CEO Simon Irwin said the program received a record number of applications, making the 2023/2024 intake highly competitive.

“At its core, the Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program provides a unique mentoring experience for each participant that supports the link between leadership theory and practice”, said Mr Irwin.

“Applications opened in February, calling on future leaders working in any aspect of the Australian beef industry, including production, processing, marketing, or agribusiness.

“We received over 70 applications from across the country and the entire supply chain, making the current intake the most competitive since the program’s inception in 2015.

“After a lengthy and difficult due review and independent selection process, we’re thrilled to see all 10 available program positions filled.

“I’m excited to see this cohort work through the 14-month course of knowledge development, skill application, and the building of their mentee and mentor relationship to deliver on a project that will positively impact the broader beef industry.

“On behalf of the Beef Australia Board of Directors and staff, I would like to congratulate the following 10 successful applicants and wish them well on their leadership journey with the 2023/2024 Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program:

  • Abbey Collins, Kilcoy Global Foods, Mount Archer, Queensland
  • Isobel Heffernan, NT Cattlemen’s Association, Darwin, Northern Territory
  • Jean Liebenberg, JBS Australia, Brisbane, Queensland
  • Lauren Angus, Signature Beef, Clermont, Queensland
  • Xavier McCluskey, Greenstock, Tamworth, New South Wales
  • Emily McNair, AACo, Wellesley, Queensland
  • Liam Cameron, Te Mania Angus, Hexham, Victoria
  • Amy Wicks, Wicks and Co Enterprises, Murgon, Queensland
  • Georgia Dale, Black Box Co., Capella, Queensland
  • Lachlan Smith, Redland Park & Brodie Agencies, Julia Creek, Queensland

Grazier and program participant Lachlan Smith said he’s been looking for a structured leadership program for a few years and found the Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program a standout.

“I like the structure that this program provides around building leadership skills, creating relationships with mentors, and the opportunity to build on a project that will benefit the Australian beef industry”, Mr Smith said.

“I know the program saw the largest uptake to date, so I feel incredibly privileged to have been selected as one of 10 program participants and certainly won’t be taking the opportunity for granted.

“I’m looking to gain a number of things out of this program but specifically I’m looking forward to developing my leadership skills, broadening my network, commencing a project that I’m passionate about and pushing myself out of my comfort zone”.

The Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program is an initiative of Beef Australia, in memory of the late Graeme Acton.

As one of Queensland’s leading beef industry figures, Graeme was renowned for supporting young people in entering the agriculture sector and generously donated his time and extensive knowledge to supporting the younger agricultural generation. Graeme also donated his time and expertise to Beef Australia as a board member and Chairman.

Since its inception in 2015, the Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program has been supported by Westpac.

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