All things Northern Australia with CRCNA


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We recently caught up with Carla Keith from Horizon Scholarship Sponsor, the CRCNA to find out a bit more about what they do, their investment in the next generation of agricultural leaders and some interesting and diverse projects the organisation is working on at the moment.

Dr Paul Giacomin from JCU, Hon David Littleproud, Prof Alex Loukas Macrobiome Therapeutics, CRCNA Chair Sheriden Morris at the ‘novel therapeutics’ project launch in Cairns in September 2021.

What is the CRCNA?

The CRCNA is funded through the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centre Program (CRC-P). We bring together industry, research organisations, all northern jurisdictions and international partners in a collaborative industry-led research and development venture. Our R & D partnerships deliver real-world outcomes and commercial opportunities which will benefit industries and communities across Northern Australia.

We invest in industry-led R & D collaborations and programs of work which support the development of new technologies, products, systems and services to resolve industry challenges in the areas of Agriculture, food, and aquaculture, Health service delivery and models of care and Traditional Owner-led business development (in these areas).

Why are the next generation of leaders so important to the future of Northern Australia?

For Northern Australia to fully realise its economic potential, it needs a ready, capable and appropriately skilled workforce. Our State of the North 2020 report concluded increased investment is required to boost tertiary and technical training opportunities in critical skill areas and industries across Northern Australia, specifically in the areas of aquaculture, silvoculture and forestry, northern cropping agronomy, data and digital capability, health service delivery and health-related services general farming and agri-business know-how.

Providing relevant and place-based training and educational support to the next generation of rural leaders and thinkers is vital to ensuring we attract and retain workers in the north. The CRCNA understands this is not just about ensuring we have the right training and education mix available to students, but that we ensure future planning also considers social and liveability factors – which are important for attracting people to rural, regional and remote areas. No one wants to relocate to a place if they can’t access quality healthcare or childcare, no matter how much their dream jobs pay!

Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted our dependence on international workers. International workers are critical to sustaining many Northern Australia agribusinesses – but to future-proof our industries we need to look more closely at how we better activate our local workforce and attract more people to the opportunity of the north.

So, that’s why we are so thrilled to be sponsoring Horizon Scholars, Rebekah Ash, Indiana Rhind, Paris Capell and Patrick Armstrong.

What are some exciting projects the CRCNA are working on at the moment?

Future-proofing the Northern Australian aquaculture industry need for skilled staff to 2050

This project will define Northern Australian aquaculture industry’s need for specific skills and education levels, map existing training and education providers and propose improved models for education and training delivery. By evaluating industry workforce needs currently and into the future and analysing the gaps between industry need and educational output, the project will highlight gaps in careers pathways to meet future industry requirements.

Developing asparagopsis seaweed cultivation at scale in Northern Australia

The focus of this collaboration is to research and develop the technical capability to grow commercial quantities of red seaweed (Asparagopsis taxiformis), which has been proven to reduce methane emissions in cattle, when used as a feedstock supplement.

Activating the Indigenous estate – Baseline study of agricultural capacity

This project will examine the unrealised agricultural potential of the Indigenous estate across Australia. It will also align with national policy agendas and closely examine agricultural development in northern Australia.

Novel therapeutics for diabetes sourced from Northern Australian biota

Far north Queensland biotechnology company Macrobiome Therapeutics is working to develop new treatments for Type 2 diabetes (T2D) from the protein secretions of parasitic worms. This project will target these proteins and replicate them in the lab using pharmaceutical industry standards. They will test the protein molecules and determine which are best suited to the next stage of development and possible further clinical development and trials.

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