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Greater Bank provides another $110,000 to build skills for New England youth & farmers

Greater Bank has provided another $110,000 to give young people in the New England skills in agriculture and future job opportunities as well as overcome local skills shortages.

Greater Bank Armidale branch manager Wendy Ng has today (August 3) provided Armidale-based BackTrack with another $110,000 in funding for its AgLads Program. The customer-owned bank provided $110,000 to the program last year.

One of the young men who has benefited from the program is 17 year old Jonathon Doyle from Armidale. “Johno” is enrolled as an agricultural trainee and is BackTrack’s first full time trainee. AgLads co-ordinator Paul Dawson said Johno has a bright future in the agricultural industry and sets the benchmark high for younger AgLad’s participants.

He said the funding enables around 30 young people a year to work on local training farms to acquire accredited skills in fencing, stock handling, heavy machinery and other agricultural elements. Mr Dawson said some participants, such as Johno, go on to paid BackTrack contracting teams on farms and gain Certification in Agriculture.

He said the AgLads crew also chop wood and either sell it to raise additional income for their program or donate it to those in need.

“The Greater Bank funding means the boys are learning a practical skill, business opportunities and also about lending a hand to other people,” Mr Dawson said.

“AgLads helps young people who have lost their way to reconnect with their education and training, to become work ready, find jobs, lead happy and productive lives and participate in the community,” he said.

“When you change the course of a young person’s life for the better you improve the overall quality of community life.”

Ms Ng said providing young people with farm skills means there are local skills here to help the region’s farmers.

“Greater Bank doesn’t have shareholders like the big banks so we can put profits back into great products and rates for customers but also help make our local community stronger,” Ms Ng said.

The funding has come from the $1.5 million Greater Bank (then Greater Building Society) committed to spend in the New England when it merged with Armidale Building Society in 2011. Other projects have included part funding of disability accommodation at Armidale’s Walker House and a new operating theatre bed at Armidale Hospital.

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