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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2009
CA TTLE COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA YEARBOOK 2009 Media and Communications at Cattle Council Government policy affects all beef cattle producers. Without producers’ involvement in the policy-making process, policy will not function effectively to sustain a profitable industry. I t is crucial that beef cattle producers have their say at the national level and this is made possible through the Cattle Council. For thirty years the Federal Government has consulted the nation’s beef cattle producers through the Cattle Council. The Federal Government depends on Cattle Council to tell them ‘how it is’. Cattle Council relies on producers, through their state farming organisations, to tell Cattle Council their requirements, concerns and visions for a successful future. Federal Government and industry must work together to ensure goal congruency is achieved. CommuniCating poliCy A two-way communication channel between beef cattle producers, State Farmer Organisations and Cattle Council is vital in achieving an effective voice at the national level. A communication focus for the Cattle Council in 2009 is opening and improving the management of these channels and providing feedback to its member organisations on their input into Cattle Council to progress appropriate actions and outcomes. The myriad of issues Cattle Council deals with every day makes this a particularly challenging task. There are time inefficiencies in extracting intelligence and insights from executive level to provide valued feedback. The most effective way forward in 2009 will be a conscious commitment by staff to recount information under a formal and disciplined framework facilitated by the Media and Communications Officer. The success of Cattle Council’s interaction with government to influence those decisions that affect beef cattle producers is the organisation’s rigorous policy debating forum; formally facilitated by council and committee face-to-face meetings but informally facilitated by teleconferences and email. Time and resources are ongoing issues for Cattle Council, given its small secretariat and large agenda. A communications platform that encourages a shift from frequent email correspondence when deliberating 36 policy is the adoption of a web-based and flexible file sharing system, which is currently in its initial stages of development. Cattle CounCil and the media Media is a powerful tool and if utilised strategically can deliver substantial benefits to an organisation and the members it represents. Cattle Council has made steady progress over the past 6 months in achieving a no-cost advertising profile as the respected and influential voice for the nation’s beef producers. Developing relationships with both rural and metropolitan media has been a key component in ensuring the producers’ voice is heard on issues that affect their profitability. Policy goals and lobbying outcomes are key drivers to proactive use of the media. Educating the media about Cattle Council’s role and ensuring two–way accessibility has assisted to strengthen Cattle Council’s voice to influence policy outcomes. Depending on the issue, Cattle Council is utilising journalists to carry messages as opposed to otherwise issuing a media release that may only appear newsworthy to the industry itself. Hence, media releases are issued if pertinent issues of national significance demand public, government or at the very least, industry stakeholders’ attention. As Cattle Council receives media coverage its website will experience increased traffic. Cattle Council will take advantage of opportunities the online environment presents to further engage producers and strengthen its national voice. Cattle Council and industry has recognised the threat of climate change to act as a weapon against industry for those who wish to protest against the production of red meat. Industry, through Meat and Livestock Australia, has responded promptly by employing resources to promote the environmental credentials of Australian beef cattle producers as industry communicates the facts to consumers and the community generally. 1117_CCA Yearbook 2009.indd 36 5/5/09 8:00:22 PM