GippsDairy Muster 2023 - A celebration of our people in dairy

GippsDairy’s major event for 2023, the GippsDairy Muster, was held on Wednesday 7 June in Yarram.

This year’s muster theme was Our People in Dairy – Rethink | Develop | Grow and showcased a number of inspirational guest speakers and farmers who shared knowledge and experiences of personal development and leadership.

Conversations around ‘People’ are prevalent in all industries as businesses struggle with employee attraction and retention. GippsDairy’s Workforce Attraction Lead, Veronica McLeod, believes it is just as important for employers to take the time to develop their staff as it is for employees to work on their self-development.

“People Development is important to help upskill our employees, ourselves, and future employees to any business. If employees feel they are getting supported to continue in their learning, from knowledge on the job or just about how to act, present, and execute their jobs better, they will feel valued by their employer and capable of improving their position,” said Veronica. “Personal Development for an employer can help to retain or attract staff for longer. It can also benefit their farming business to be less reliant on consultants and take control of their own destiny.”

The event included a day convention at the Regent Theatre, Yarram and a networking dinner held at the Yarram Recreational Reserve and was attended by almost 150 Gippsland dairy farmers and service providers.

Dairy farmer from the Macalister Irrigation District, Ross Anderson, MCed the convention that included keynote speaker, Oli Le Lievre from Humans of Agriculture. Oli opened the event with a look at how his company aims to showcase the different ways people are contributing to the agricultural industry. This was followed by a Gippsland Farmer Discussion Panel led by Matt Harms and included Aubrey Pellet, Tim Jelbart, and David and Penny Conn.

Students from Yarram Secondary College joined the event to listen to the Farmer Discussion Panel, and then engaged in a conversation around self-development with people and culture strategist, Sally Murfet.

The afternoon consisted of a choice of three breakout sessions run by Sally Murfet, leadership and culture development expert Kylie Paatsch, and leadership and communications consultant James Freemantle. These breakout sessions covered goal setting, communicating effectively and adaptive leadership. Videos outlining the key discussion areas from the three breakout sessions can be viewed here.

Communication was a big theme in the breakout sessions. As Veronica explains, “If employees and employers can have open communication about where they are all going and how they can achieve the outcomes together, we have the potential to minimise loss of employees from the dairy industry.”

The networking dinner, MCed by West Gippsland dairy farmer, Stuart Griffin, saw keynote speaker, Sally Murfet, discuss communication, culture, connection, and conduct. Sally also provided further context about why building capability and capacity in our people is so important in the current operating environment. Guest speaker and dairy farmer, Aaron Thomas, spoke of his experiences as a recipient of a sponsorship opportunity from the Gardiner Dairy Foundation to participate in the Australian Rural Leadership Program and his future plans within the dairy industry.

The team at GippsDairy are now looking ahead to next year’s Muster that will be an on farm event in West Gippsland, and welcome input from farmers around how the GippsDairy Muster 2024 will look. GippsDairy Regional Manager, Karen McLennan says, “We are putting the call out for any West Gippsland farmers that are interested in hosting the event next year on their farm, and any suggestions around what people would like to see as the theme for the event.”

If you are interested in finding out more about hosting or sponsoring next year’s Muster or would like to submit an idea for a theme or topics, please contact us at or 03 5624 3900.

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