LEADING hand at Morstone Downs, near Camooweal, 22-year-old Stewart Foster has collected a major industry award in recognition of the role he is playing as a mentor.
Mr Foster is the inaugural winner of the Alward Foster Memorial Emerging Indigenous Pastoral Leader Award.
He was presented with the award by Northern Territory Primary Industry Minister Ken Vowles at the NT Cattlemen’s Association annual conference in Darwin last week.
NTCA say he is “one of the shining lights of a program to attract Indigenous Territory men and women back to cattle station life.”
Mr Foster took part in the Pastoral Real Jobs Program, which is supported by NTCA, the Central Land Council and National Indigenous Pastoral Enterprises.
He worked at Manbulloo Station near Katherine and Auvergne near Timber Creek before becoming leading hand at Morstone Downs.
Morstone Downs managers Ian and Kerrie Fletcher said Mr Foster is an independent man and a “great role model for the younger generation”.
“He balances his family responsibilities, culture and working in a non-Indigenous environment very well and without hassle,” they said.
“He has been known to take on a few young fellas that follow him on his journey and without realising it, he mentors and supports them.
“Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Stewart acknowledge this and continues on his journey.”
The Fletchers describe him as a “bright, talented gentlemen with a great work ethic”.
Mr Foster recently gained a Certificate III in Agriculture and is now starting Certificate IV.
NTCA chief executive Tracey Hayes said: “We’re delighted that such a role model as Stewart is the first winner of this award.
“Indigenous people played a key role in opening the Northern Territory to pastoralists and we want to attract more Aboriginal stockmen and women back to the industry.
“Pastoralists are keen to play their part in combating Indigenous disadvantage.”
The award is named after the late Alward Foster, who joined the NTCA’s Pastoral Real Jobs Program as an employee on Newry Station on the West Australian border. He later became a full-time NTCA staff member.
His job was to train, mentor and support young Indigenous people in the Real Jobs Program and Indonesian students from the NTCA Indonesian Australia Pastoral Program.
Alward was a natural born leader, who once went to Canberra and showed then Prime Minister Julia Gillard how to crack a stockwhip.