Sheep Industry Business Innovation

SIBI staff profile: Karlee Bertola

Having grown up on her grandparents' farm near the airport in Albany, Karlee has had a long affinity with land, environment and farming. Karlee studied a Bachelor of Environmental Science at the University of Western Australia, majoring in restoration ecology and graduating in 2010. Following that, Karlee found some work at the Gillamii centre in Cranbrook where she assisted with saline grazing projects and management plans for the region. In 2011 Karlee secured a three month contract to work with the Indigenous Landholder Service (now called Aboriginal Business Development).

During her time at DAFWA Karlee has completed environmental management plans, soil testing, water sampling, and business planning workshops. She splits her time equally between the SIBI project to engage with Noongar landowners interested in starting up sheep enterprises on their properties, and Indigenous Agriculture Management.

Karlee Bertola
DAFWA Development Officer Karlee Bertola

The SIBI project has provided a great opportunity for Noongar landholders to build their capacity and engage in the sheep industry. Through the project DAFWA has been able to provide planning that has guided landholders on what business models would work best on their properties. Many of the properties DAFWA works with are currently leased, but the SIBI project has provided a way for landholders to explore other options and the potential to get into sheep in the future. A vision amongst landholders is to eventually develop an Indigenous branded meat product to supply to China.

One of Karlee's favourite roles is organising the Lifetime Ewe Management course for Indigenous landholders. The course has been interactive, hands-on and fun, which is great for learning. Landholders are already taking their skills back to their corporations and applying the skills on their own farms.

In her spare time Karlee likes to paint, and sheep often feature in her paintings!

painting of sheep in field
One of Karlee's paintings, titled "Early Morning at the Farm I"