Training an essential step in improving water quality

At the essence of our lives is communication. With funding from the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program, Fitzroy Basin Association Inc. (FBA) were given the opportunity to deliver a tailored workshop directed at improving the communication skills of extension officers in the Fitzroy region. The objective to improve communication skills for the benefit of landholders and water quality results for the Great Barrier Reef.

13 Extension Officers who frequently communicate with farmers about the benefits of improving water quality through land management were enlisted in the training, with a varied background of confidence and skill levels.

Their skills in persuasive communication, presenting and written communication were examined under the spotlight, in a bid to become more aware of their intended and unintended communication styles.

Feedback from the engaged group stated the training increased confidence, ability and awareness of their own communication skills and non-verbal cues as a result of the training delivered by the Institute for Communication Management and Leadership (ICML).

“We’ve been able to identify the driving influences which underpin the decisions landholders make and how to adapt our communication styles to be a part of that influence,” said FBA’s Communication Coordinator Ebony Battersby.

“The extension officers in the room are feeling more empowered to talk about big picture topics like sediment loads into the Great Barrier Reef in concise ways to translate the science into simple on-farm actions that make sense to a landholder, from both a business and family perspective.  Conversations between extension officers and landholders about practice change can occur for a multitude of reasons, and the communication skills of extension officers need to be able to adapt.”

Over 30 extension officers from several organisations across the Fitzroy region were invited to participate in the training funded by the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program. This network of extension professionals operating within the Fitzroy region is referred to as the Fitzroy Regional Extension Network. These 102 professionals stem from backgrounds of research, education, stock agents, agribusinesses, veterinarians, livestock suppliers and local and state governments.

Through delivering targeted communications training to these professionals, the impact for improved communication across the Fitzroy region has limitless potential.