Australian Native and Bush Food Project

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Case for change

There is an increasing market both locally and internationally for Australian native and bush foods. New job roles are emerging, requiring specific skills for working in remote locations, harvesting and processing wild food, and exporting products according to strict regulations. Skills in cultural sensitivity are also important, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have grown, harvested and cooked native plants for thousands of years. With only a small proportion of native foods possessing food safety certification so far, there is plenty of potential for further growth.

The Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC) approved this project, out of the 2021 Annual Update IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work.

The Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Industry Reference Committee (IRC) will oversee this project as part of their responsibility to support engagement with the sector, and to ensure the project meets industry stakeholder needs.

Skills Impact will manage this project, consistent with the 2012 Standards for Training Package Development.

Download Project Proposal (see page 48)

Project Plan

Domestic and international consumers are hungry for Australian native and bush foods, which offer both nutritional benefits and cultural appeal. Eighty seven percent of businesses in this sector project that they will expand over the next five years, with new businesses continually opening across Australia, particularly in rural, regional and remote areas. Given only 18 out of the 6,400 counted varieties of native foods have received food safety certification for commercial production so far, there is plenty of room for expansion in this sector.

While some of the skills used to work with native foods and produce are similar to those used to grow, harvest and process other plants for food, the skill needs of this native sector are unique. The plants themselves are also unique in their growth and yield and require expertise to grow and harvest in an efficient and sustainable way.

Many businesses in the sector are small and operations involve many steps in the supply chain’, from planting and harvesting, to processing, through to product promotion. Therefore, those working in the sector require a broad range of skills. Unique expertise is required for complying with domestic and international regulations associated with food safety, transport and biosecurity, especially as the industry looks to expand. Skills in product development and marketing are also required to find a market for foods that the public may not be familiar with.

Consultation will take place throughout this project to define the skills needs of Australia’s burgeoning native and bush food industry and address them within national skills standards.

Advice from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations will be an important part of consultation activities for this project. We acknowledge that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have gathered, grown, harvested and consumed native food for tens of thousands of years and continue to play an important role in the increasing interest and awareness of these foods. The project will also focus on outlining the cultural competence skills required by those working in the sector alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders communities.

Project Scope

This project aims to address the need for national skills standards to describe the skills needs of the Australian native and bush foods sector, which could involve existing food processing units, units imported from other training packages (such as the AHC Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Training Package), and new units.

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Relevant Occupations
  • Growers and harvesters
  • Packers and processors
  • Skilled labourer
  • Kitchen/catering assistants
  • Team leaders
  • Quality assurance
  • Marketing professionals

 

Project Team
Cathy BevenIndustry Skills Standards Specialist, Skills Impact[email protected]
Julie StratfordIndustry Engagement Manager, Skills Impact[email protected]

 

Timeline

August 2021
Initial scoping

October/November 2021*
Development of draft qualifications, skill sets and units

November/December 2021*
Drafts available for broad consultation

February 2022*
Validation of final drafts

March/April 2022
Independent Quality Assurance, and Edit and Equity review of Training Package components

April 2022
IRC consideration for sign-off and submission for endorsement

*To be confirmed with subject matter expert working group

Opportunities for stakeholder input

Those with experience and knowledge in native and bush foods, who are able to describe the skills needed for this industry are invited to engage with this project.

It is important that training provides a skilled and flexible workforce for the future. The qualifications, skill set, and units need to reflect real work experience. So, if you work in the sector, Skills Impact welcomes your input and assistance.

The skills standards will be drafted in consultation with Subject Matter Experts and their networks. Opportunities to provide targeted feedback will occur when the draft skills standards are made available in November/December 2021, and again for validation of final drafts in February 2022. However, your feedback is welcomed at any time, and will help us in drafting the qualifications, skill set and units.

Please register your interest in project updates and consultation opportunities by following the newsletter subscription link. Alternatively, contact the project manager, Cathy Beven [email protected]

N.B. webinars will be held to replace face-to-face consultation workshops where necessary due to COVID-19 related restrictions.

Stakeholder Consultation Process

A list of key stakeholder organisations has been identified for this project based on their industry role, size or specialty. Skills Impact will ensure contact is made with each of these organisations to seek their involvement and views on all draft qualifications, skill set and units. Consultation is not limited to the organisations on this list, they have simply been identified as the most likely to have a key interest in the development and outcomes of this project

If you are aware of an organisation that you think should be involved, please contact the project team to ensure they are contacted by us.

Development

Australian native and bush foods attract interest from international and local markets for their nutritional benefits and cultural appeal. Only 18 of the 6,400 counted varieties of Australian native foods have received safety certification for commercial production so far, leaving room for expansion. New businesses are regularly opening in this space, and of existing businesses, 87% expect to expand over the next five years.

The skills required to work with Australian native and bush foods are unique. Many businesses in the sector are small and perform several steps in the supply chain, meaning a wide range of expertise is required. While the general skills to grow, harvest and process plants for food can be drawn on with Australian natives, they are unique in their growth and yield and require expertise to grow and harvest in an efficient and sustainable way. Regulations associated with safety, transport and biosecurity are also relevant, as are skills in product development and marketing to build a customer base for products.

Consultation is taking place to define the skills needs of the Australian native and bush food industry and address them within national skills standards. Meetings have been held with subject matter experts to discuss job roles and skills needs of the sector. As a result, there has been recommendations for an entry level skill set to be developed to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wanting to start a business in the Australian bush and native food industry.

We acknowledge that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have gathered, grown, harvested and consumed Australian native food for tens of thousands of years and continue to play an important role in the increasing interest and awareness of these foods. Advice from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations is making up an important part of consultation activities for this project.

Development outcomes and next steps

Broad stakeholder consultation is scheduled to commence in November when draft units will be made available for comment on this webpage. Your input is welcome, please feel free to register your interest to keep informed of project updates and when draft materials are available for feedback.

 

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Drafts Available

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have gathered, grown, harvested and consumed Australian native foods for tens of thousands of years and now play an important role in this growth industry. The sector is rapidly increasing in size, with 87% of businesses in the sector projecting they will expand over the next five years, and new businesses continually opening around Australia.

Unique skills are required to set up a Australian native food business, with expertise required across the supply chain, from planting and harvesting, to processing, through to product promotion. Growing and harvesting Australian plants in an efficient and sustainable way is different than many commercial crops, as their growth and yield are unique. Knowledge and skills for complying with domestic and international regulations associated with food safety, transport and biosecurity are essential, especially as the industry looks to expand. While skills in product development and marketing are required to find a market for foods that the public may not be familiar with.

It is important that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are supported to participate and build businesses in this sector, so that their connection to these foods is recognised and traditional skills and knowledge can be preserved. It is also important that others who participate in the sector are equipped with skills to work respectfully alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations and according to appropriate cultural protocols.

Thank you to everybody that provided feedback on a draft skill set that describes the skills required for this work. The skill set is intended to support the establishment of Australian native or bush food businesses, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander enterprises. It was available on this webpage for feedback between 12 November and 10 December 2021. During this time, feedback was collected via the online feedback hub, a consultation webinar and email. The draft, including any comments made on the feedback hub, is still available for viewing below.

Feedback was invited on whether the draft skill set reflects the current skills standards and practices of industry, and whether job functions are accurately described. Please note, the two AHC units of competency which have been included in the skill set are highlighted in blue as they are currently being reviewed as part of the Respect for Country Job Skills Project. Feedback was also sought on whether there is a need to include other units of competency in the skill set or if there are other skill areas which would benefit from a skill set.

Feedback will inform the work on the final draft skill set which is expected to be available for industry validation in February 2022. A summary of the feedback and how it was addressed in the final draft will also be available.

Draft skill set

Skill Set code and name Link
FBPSS000XX Prepare to Set up an Australian Bush and Native Food Production Business Skill SetView draft skill set
Summary of previous consultation

The skill set was drafted in consultation with subject matter experts. They considered feedback that was received out of workforce functional analysis workshops in September and October. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those who work closely with them on Country participated and provided information on the skills and knowledge required for job roles and tasks. Thank you to those who provided feedback during these activities.

The discussions at the meetings centred on the availability of a specific set of skills for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and resulted in the recommendation to develop an entry level skill set for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wanting to start up a small production business in the Australian native and bush food industry.

Subscribe to updates about the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical’ as your industry of interest.

 

Validation

With increased interest from local and international markets, the Australian native and bush foods industry is increasing in size. New businesses are regularly opening and 87% of existing ones expect to expand in the next five years. There is plenty of room to grow, with only a small number of the recognised 6,400 varieties of Australian native foods having received safety certification for commercial production so far.

Unique skills are required to work with native Australian foods, from sourcing and harvesting to preparing products and setting up a business. It is important that those working in the sector are equipped with the skills required throughout the supply chain from harvesting to post production. It is also important that the crucial role played by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the sector is recognised, and that they are supported to participate and build businesses. For others working within the sector, skills are required to work respectfully alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations and to work according to appropriate cultural protocols.

Thank you to those who provided validation and comment on the final skill sets and unit of competency for bush and native foods that were made available between 14 February until 7 March 2022. You can still view the documents and any comments made below.

Skill sets in harvesting and post-production of native and bush foods were developed based on feedback received at the ‘Drafts Available’ stage. A unit of competency to address a gap in skills for wild harvesting of plants and/or seed was also made available for feedback and validation. No changes were made to the skill set developed for setting up an Australian bush and native food business, as industry did not express the need for any further updates.

The agriculture, horticulture conservation and land management (AHC) units of competency included in the skill sets are being reviewed as part of the Respect for Country Job Skills Project, and feedback was also encouraged for this project.

Summary of Feedback and Key Changes

Thank you to those stakeholders who provided feedback on the drafts that were made available from 12 November to 10 December 2021 under the ‘Drafts Available’ stage. During this time, feedback was collected via the online feedback hub, webinars, and via phone call and email. The units were drafted with guidance from Subject Matter Experts, made up of workplace experts and industry. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those who work closely with them on Country participated and provided information on the skills and knowledge required for job roles and tasks.

A description of how feedback has been considered and applied in these final drafts will be available soon.

Skill Set code and name RationaleLink
FBPSS000XX1 Prepare First Nations Products for Sale Skill SetThis skill set was developed from feedback received during the ‘drafts available’ stageView final draft skill set
FBPSS000XX2 Prepare to Set up an Australian Bush and Native Food Production Business Skill SetThis skill set was developed at the beginning of the project our of an industry need for nationally recognised training in setting up an Australian native and bush foods businessView final draft skill set
FBPSS000XX3 Source and Harvest Bush and Native Food Skill SetThis skill set was developed from feedback received during the ‘drafts available’ stageView final draft skill set

The draft documents can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by  clicking here

Unit code and name  RationaleLink
FBPBSH20XXX Participate in wild harvesting of plants and/or seed for food processingThis unit includes a new unit sector code called Bush Foods (BSH). The unit was developed as a result of feedback received during the ‘Drafts Available’ stage.View final draft unit

The draft document can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format by clicking here

Subscribe to updates about the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical’ as your industry of interest.

 

Finalisation

The Australian native and bush foods industry is increasing in size, with local and international consumers interested in the unique nutrition and cultural value of these products. Most business in the sector (87%) are expecting to expand in the next five years and new businesses are opening all the time. Only a small number of the 6,400 recognised varieties of Australian native foods have received safety certification for commercial production so far, so there is plenty of room for expansion.

Working with Australian native and bush foods requires unique skills across the supply chain, from sourcing and harvesting to preparing products and setting up a business. It is important that the crucial and ongoing role played by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the sector is recognised, and that they are supported to participate and build businesses. It is also important that others working within the sector have skills for working respectfully alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations according to appropriate cultural protocols.

Consultation has taken place throughout this project to describe the skills required for working with Australian native and bush foods. Three skill sets were developed to capture the skills required to prepare Australian bush and native food products for sale, prepare to set up a food production business in the sector and to source and harvest bush and native food. One unit was developed to capture the skills required to participate in wild harvesting of plants and/or seed for food processing. The new unit is proposed for inclusion in the Certificate II in Food Processing as an elective.

The Agriculture, Horticulture Conservation and Land Management (AHC) units of competency included in the skill sets are being reviewed as part of the Respect for Country Job Skills Project, and feedback was also encouraged for this project.

Summary of Consultation

A Subject Matter Expert Working Group was established to identify the skills and knowledge required for Australian native and bush food. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those who work closely with them on Country participated and provided information on the skills and knowledge required for job roles and tasks.

The broader industry was consulted on the draft documents at two different stages – the ‘Drafts Available’ and ‘Validation’ stages. Industry from across Australia provided input via the Skills Impact feedback hub, webinars, email, and phone.

A description of how feedback has been considered and applied at the ‘Drafts Available’ stage can be downloaded below. A summary of feedback from the ‘Validation’ stage will be available soon.

 

The final draft unit and skill sets have undergone an edit and equity and independent quality assurance process, including review by the Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Industry Reference Committee and State/Territory Training Authorities (STAs/TTAs). They were endorsed by the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) on 1 June 2022 (read the communique), and are now being considered by the State and Territory Skills Ministers. A Case for Endorsement has been developed to provide information about what changes have been made, who has contributed, reasons for the changes, and their implications. A Companion Volume Implementation Guide has also been produced to help registered training organisations (RTOs) implement the updated unit and skill sets.

The submitted documents are available for download below. 

Click here to download the Case for Endorsement

Click here to download the Companion Volume Implementation guide Part 1

Click here to download the Companion Volume Implementation guide Part 2

Skill Sets

Click here to download the submitted documents in Microsoft Word format

FBPSS00058 Prepare Australian Bush and Native Food Products for Sale Skill Set
FBPSS00059 Prepare to Set up an Australian Bush and Native Food Production Business Skill Set
FBPSS00060 Source and Harvest Bush and Native Food Skill Set

 

Unit

Click here to download the submitted document in Microsoft Word format

FBPBSH201 Participate in wild harvesting of plants and/or seed for food processing

Subscribe to updates about the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical’ as your industry of interest.