MATTHEW Parker has always wanted to work in the cattle industry.
The 25-year-old grew up helping his parents on their property about 7km away from New Acland Mine north-west of Oakey.
Although he would have liked to have stayed on with his folks, the farm business wasn't quite big enough to sustain his wage along with his siblings and parents, so he moved further afield to tackle the Top End for about five years.
With experience from working on properties in the Northern Territory and north Queensland under his belt, he returned to the Darling Downs and secured a job at Acland Pastoral Company in March, coming on as a station hand.
Acland Pastoral's owner New Hope Group has a focus on employing local workers, and Matt couldn't be more chuffed he has found full-time work, close to home and within the industry he loves.
"It's the cattle industry where I want to be," he said.
"There are not many full-time jobs available around here, it's more like seasonal work. And the smaller privately owned places are not looking to bring someone on."
Acland Pastoral runs a cattle and cropping business on 10,000 hectares of land around New Acland Mine, including on 240ha of rehabilitated mined land. To date, around 488ha of mined land has been rehabilitated at New Acland Mine.
There are three full-time staff members on deck.
Farm manager Steve Erbacher heads up the Acland Pastoral team, with all team members living on the company's holdings. Including the three workers and their families, there are six adults and five children living on Acland Pastoral land.
Steve, who joined the company in December last year, said everyone enjoyed living in the local area.
"Oakey is 18km away and Toowoomba is about 45km away," he said. "We send our kids to the local schools, play sport here, use the gym and the facilities here in town and contribute to the local community."
The company will look to hire two new school-based trainees in the coming months.
New Hope executive general manager for mining Jim Randell said, from his perspective, hiring locals was a common-sense approach. "We like to employ locals because A - we see ourselves as part of the community, and B - the locals have the local knowledge.
"Many of our guys out at New Acland Mine are farmers too. I think there are more than 50 employed at the mine who have their own farm."
In peak mustering or harvesting times, contractors are brought in to lend a hand. "We also use local workers in terms of the specialists we bring in," Mr Randell said.
Acland Pastoral recently transitioned from a backgrounding and grain operation, into a breeding and cropping business.
The relatively new Acland Pastoral team has helped to refocus the company's core business.
Some of the company's cattle are used at Oakey State High School, for students to use within their agricultural program.
Each year the company trucks these cattle from the school to local led steer competitions.
Steve said this was a worthy program to be part of as it helped grow budding ag enthusiasts.
"They do all the work with them, and use them for show season," he said.
"That will happen again this year."
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