Inaugural Australian Wool Industry Medals reward passion and persistence

Terry Sim, August 25, 2017

Australian Wool Industry Medal winners, from left, Barry Walker, David Ward, Peter Morgan, Robert Ryan, Geoff Power, Robert Carter, Nan Allison, Sally Martin and Wal Merriman. Click on image for a larger view.


PEOPLE with an enduring passion for wool, people and sheep were rewarded at the inaugural presentation of Australian Wool Industry Medals in Melbourne last night.

The Federation of Australian Wool Organisations Inc. announced 11 recipients of the award from four states at the Australian Wool Industries Secretariat’s annual National Wool Week industry dinner, organised by the Australian Wool Industries Secretariat at Aerial on South Wharf.

Chairman-elect of FAWO David Michell said it was very timely that the industry acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of these outstanding people to this iconic Australian industry.

“Wool prices are now at record levels and optimism for both wool and sheep is high.

“The industry has faced difficult times over the past three decades and the contributions that these people have made has ensured that many in the industry can enjoy these more prosperous times.”

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The award recipients included:

Nan Allison, AWH administrator, Victoria

Robert Carter, South Regional TAFE wool classing lecturer, Western Australia.

Mr Rod Franklyn Techwool Trading managing director VIC

Mr Athol Frederick Landmark Harcourts, senior account manager – wool, VIC

Ms Sally Martin, sheep industry consultant,  NSW

Mr Wal Merriman, Australian Wool Innovation chairman, NSW

Dr Peter Morgan, wool industry consultant, VIC

Mr Geoff Power, wool grower and former Livestock SA president

Mr Robert Ryan OAM, wool broker and FAWO chairman, NSW

Mr Barry Walker OAM, GIC Ltd chairman, NSW

Mr David Ward OAM, former AWTA managing director, VIC

Former Livestock SA chairman Geoff Power, left, receives his Australian Wool Industry Medal from then FAWO chairman-elect David Michell.

Mr Michell congratulated the recipients on their awards and thanked them for their contribution to the Australian wool industry. He said the award came about from a FAWO board conversation, initially led by AWEX chief executive officer Mark Grave, to recognise people who have done extraordinary things.

“This medal is designed to find those people in our industry and get them, in front of us so that we can actually say thank you.”

The award aims to recognise people from the farm gate through to when wool leaves Australia “education, science, shearers, administration, traders even, it covers a vast array of skills.”

Mr Grave said to comparing all sectors of the supply chain and those who have made an outstanding contribution was not an easy task. He thanked the selection panel and the people who nominated candidates, and gave a brief summary of the award recipients’ work and achievements.

2017 Australian Wool Industry Medal winners Nan Allison, Peter Morgan and Sally Martin.

Getting it right

Nan Allison, AWH administrator, Victoria

Ms Allison has worked for 53 years’ service as a senior wool administrator for Australia’s largest wool warehousing and logistics business AWH. She is acknowledged for services above and beyond the regular duties of her position, and is highly regarded and respected administrator for diligence and accuracy. She has been instrumental in influencing many of the work processes for data capture operators at a systems level and work place training level.

Despite her legendary status among industry administrators, Ms Allison said she didn’t consider herself in the same league as the other medal recipients. She has been involved in wool industry data entry since 1964.

“Obviously I’m a stayer.

“As silly as it may sound, I really love my job, I really enjoy and I’m still learning,” she said.

She counts being able to do a good job each day to the best of her ability as her greatest achievement.

“To be accurate, try not to make any mistakes, be pleasant to the customers and helpful, and that’s pretty much it.”

Training and helping people

Robert Carter, South Regional TAFE wool classing lecturer, Western Australia

Mr Carter is noted for his work in education and training in WA as a trainer and a mentor to students. He is also recognised for his contribution to the development and transition of the shearing industry in Western Australia. He is a member of the WA Shearing Competition Association as a judge and organiser, and is an executive member of the WA Shearing Industry Association.

Mr Carter said he grew up on a farm and started working as a roustabout in shearing sheds at 11 year-old. He always wanted to work in wool, although his parents who encouraged him to get an education first.

“Shearing was always exciting to me; I liked the physical part of it, the moving around and the not being stuck in the one place.”

He left secondary school and did a teaching degree and taught for 3.5 years, before coming back to the bush and work as a shearing contractor.

Mr Carter is most proud of wife Jenni and four children. He is also proud of being able to support industry workers and farmers.

“I’ve pretty much done everything.”

The passion of people

Sally Martin, sheep industry consultant, NSW

Ms Martin was recognised for her contribution in education and extension services. As a former DPI sheep and livestock officer she serviced the south west slopes of NSW. She has been actively involved in the Peter Westblade Wether Trials since 2004 and is a member of the PWSC Scholarship Committee. Ms Martin is also founding director and chief executive officer of MerinoLink, and a site manager for the Lifetime Merino Productivity Project. She was runner up in the 2011 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award.

She said is the passion of the people in the industry and the challenges that kept her going.

“It’s just such a dynamic industry, there are so many different things happening, no day is the same, no week, no month, no year.”

Ms Martin said she was still working toward her biggest achievement, but she valued the development of MerinoLink and seeing people put research into practice to achieve productivity gains to make a sustainable industry.

Responsibility to AWI shareholders

Wal Merriman, Australian Wool Innovation chairman, NSW

Mr Merriman was recognised for his significant contribution to production and industry services. He has been a director of AQWI since 2004 and chairman since 2008. He is renowned sheep breeder and a great supporter of sheep shows. He is the chair and a committee member of the NSW Stud Merino Breeders Association and also of the Australian Stud Merino Breeders Association. He was made an ASMBA life member in 2010.

Mr Merriman said coming back on the family farm was “just what he did.”

“You like doing what you are doing.”

He is proud of his Merryville Merino Stud’s achievements in shows and wether trials.

“Through my role with AWI, I really feel a responsibility to the shareholders and I try to do things I think are good for the industry.”

Love of industry and the WA rams

Dr Peter Morgan, wool industry consultant, Victoria

Dr Morgan was recognised for his contribution to industry services. He has served agriculture and the wool industry for more than 50 years. He has executive director roles with the Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors and the Private Treaty Wool Merchants of Australia. He is also a life member of the Australian Superfine Wool Growers of Australia. Mr Morgan is a contributor to many committees, including the AWEX Wool Industry EDP User Group, FAWO, the China Australia Greasy Wool Working Group and is a former senior executive of the AWTA. He was active in the implementation of objective measurement, brands, pre-sale testing and sale by sample.

Dr Morgan said he stayed involved because of his “absolute love of the industry which arises from working with the wonderful people in the industry.”

He said as much as he loved his current roles, he listed helping northern Western Australian sheep producers improve their flocks in the mid-1960s with home-bred rams among his greatest achievements.

As a UNSW graduate he went from Sydney to work at Port Hedland as a WA government livestock officer, where the producers were having enormous sheep reproduction problems with low conception and lambing rates.

“I didn’t start it, but people in the area were aware that rams bred in the area were more fertile than rams brought from the south and I set up breeding programs on a whole heap of stations.

“I saw lamb marking percentages go from 30 percent to 60pc, there as then surplus sheep for sale and people could cull old sheep,” he said.

“I was the driver of the application – the extension of the idea of adopting the use of rams that they bred themselves in a pastoral environment,” he said.

“Probably the greatest satisfaction I got out of that was not so much from the double of the lamb marking percentages, but the interest that it created in the owners and the growers, who suddenly became a lot better managers because they were not looking at failure; they were looking at something that was going forward.

“Their involvement was the key thing and I was only 22, and arrogant then too.”

Love of wool, the industry and sheep

Geoff Power, wool grower, South Australia

Mr Power was recognised for his contribution to industry services. The wool grower and immediate past president of Livestock SA is a former president and director of WoolProducers Australia. He has been actively involved in former SA Farmers Federation. He is an active member of the Flinders Merino Group, Wild Dog Advisory Board and the South Australian Sheep Advisory Group.

Mr Power said his passion for wool, the industry and sheep had kept him involved.

“Since I was a young fella, I’ve always loved wool, I love the industry, I love sheep and that’s what has kept me going.

“I’m a first generation operator, I was born in Melbourne and I’ve had no inheritance and the industry has been great to me, my wife and our family,” he said.

“It’s all about putting back into an industry that has been so good to us.”

Promotion of agriculture

Robert Ryan OAM, FAWO president

Mr Ryan was recognised for his contribution to broking and industry services at state and national levels. He has extensive experience as a wool broker and is managing director of Australian Wool and Pastoral Pty Ltd. As president of FAWO, he is chair of the FAWO EAD Committee and of the China Australia Joint Working Group for Greasy Wool. He is also current president of RAS NSW and has been a councillor since 1996. Mr Ryan is also the Australian representative on the IWTO Heads of Delegations Committee.

Mr Ryan said he and his company had a belief that if you are in an industry, you get involved.

“You get out of life what you put into it and I think that’s why I do what I do.”

Mr Ryan said he was passionate about three things; his broking company, FAWO and the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW.

“It’s about the betterment and promotion of agriculture to the world, and telling everybody the good things that are happening out there.

“It’s very easy to be negative and I’m not a negative person,” he said.

“I love doing what I do and I probably get these really, really good jobs that actually don’t pay, but I love doing it because of my passion.”

He considers his greatest achievement was helping to improve understandings between the Chinese and Australian wool industries 10 years ago, which led to the formation of the China Australia Joint Working Group for Greasy Wool.

Putting the wool bits together

Barry Walker OAM, GIC Ltd chairman, NSW

Mr Walker was recognised for his contribution to administration and industry services. He is a life member and former president of ASWGA, a former board member of Australian Wool Corporation, AWTA and the Wool Council of Australia. Mr Walker was chairman of the Woolmark Company during the collapse of the Reserve Price Scheme. He formed the Network Investment Company, established to co-invest with Italian processors to form AWN Limited.

Mr Walker said his interest in wool started when he was six years old and he collected all the bits of wool that went down the chutes in his family’s shearing shed.

“I took them aside and washed them, put them on netting and dried them, and took them away and sold them – so I think that indicates it has been a lifetime commitment.’

Mr Walker considered his greatest achievement was his work in resolving the 36 inherited issues of the Australian wool industry as it restructured from the 1930s until today.

“They were considered too hard to resolve by all sorts of administrations, and I’ve resolved all of them – I’m very proud of that.”

Hallway collision to career success

David Ward OAM, testing and industry services, Victoria

Mr Ward is a former AWTA director and managing director from 1966-2001. He was managing director of the NZWTA from 1988-1992 and is a former delegate and chair of IWTO technical and commercial committees. He is also a former member of the IWTO Raw Wool group which developed the international wool testing standards, regulations and associated trading clauses for the IWTO Blue Book. He has also served as secretary of the IWTO Commercial Regulations and Contracts Committee. Mr Ward was instrumental in establishing the AWTA Ltd Wool Education Trust and is a former chairman. He is also a former chairman of the Federation of Australian Wool Organisations, formerly known as the Australian National Committee of the IWTO.

Mr Ward said he just happened to be at the University of New South Wales when wool testing was being talked about.

He recalled a collision with the then original AWTA director, Dr Alec Dixie, back in 1962, while he was arguing with the then Professor of wool technology Professor Pat McMahon, which led to his involvement with wool testing.

“He told me of all the impediments he had trying to get the (AWTA) business off the ground, but also explained to me what the potential was.

“I said right, I was in my final year in university and I said I am going to major in wool metrology (measurement) and biostatistics and things just fell into place,” he said.

“He fired me up and I remember walking away from that meeting with him saying to myself ‘one day I’m going to have that guy’s job – I had it four years later.”

He considered his greatest achievement “being able to see the impact you can have if you are prepared to put in.”

Rod Franklyn, Techwool Trading managing director, Victoria

Mr Franklyn was recognised for his role as a wool exporter with extensive wool industry experience from the early 1960s. He is the owner of the largest privately owned Australian family exporting company. He is recognised for his mentoring of many current wool industry personnel, who have started their own successful businesses and continue to maintain strong business relationships with Techwool. Mr Franklyn was instrumental in opening and developing China as a major importer and processor of Australian wool.

Athol Frederick, Landmark Harcourts senior account manager – wool, Victoria

Mr Frederick was recognised for his extensive career and influence as a wool broker of more than 50 years. He is recognised for his strong role as an advocate for community innovation and initiatives, including developing grower workshops with TAFE to cope with the collapse of the reserve price scheme. In the same year he initiated the first Woolclassers Forum which continue to run successfully nationally. In 2000, with the support of AWTA, ASBA and Landmark, he initiated and was actively involved in developing the Australian Fleece Competition – Australia’s largest fleece competition.

Mr Franklyn and Mrl Frederick were unable to be present and will receive their medals in a private ceremony in their home state.

The Federation of Australian Wool Organisation is the peak body for the Australian wool industry. Members include: Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors, Australian Wool Exchange, Australian Wool Handlers, Australian Wool Innovation, Australian Wool Testing Authority, The National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia, and WoolProducers Australia.

FAWO is now accepting nominations for next year’s medal awards by the closing date of May 1 2018. The 2018 nomination form is available at


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