In 2008, the National Farmers' Federation warned that as Australia emerges from drought, rural areas would be short of some 100,000 employees.
Years on, regional Australia is still struggling to attract the large number of skilled and experienced workers needed to maintain production levels and community growth.
Enter the Brolga Project.
Recognising the skills shortage in rural and regional Australia, and the difficulty faced by university students to find adequate work experience to support their studies, the Brolga Project links the two together.
The mind behind the concept, Project Manager Richard Cowley, developed the idea in response to his own experience as a university student seeking practical work placement. A Cunnamulla-born 'man of the bush', Mr Cowley launched the project in 2008.
Rural and regional is not just about country and cows, there is an incredible range of career opportunities," Mr Cowley explains.
The Brolga Project is recognised by more than 24 universities across Australia, including Queensland University of Technology, University of Queensland, University of New England and James Cook University.
As of May 2013, hundreds of university students will have received a rural work experience placement through the Brolga Project.
It was through the Brolga Project that, in 2010, I myself received a placement in Quilpie, southwest Queensland.
Aided by the Brolga Project's well-organised travel and accommodation arrangements, I found myself 900 kilometres west of Brisbane, meeting with the Quilpie Shire Council – my employer for the two-week work experience placement.
Connected: Sonny and Daniel
Working alongside the Council's tourism department, I enjoyed the experience more than I could have ever imagined.
I was met with the most welcoming atmosphere and the locals quickly accepted me into the Quilpie 'family'. I learned so much, met so many fantastic people, and built a network that will undoubtedly support me throughout my career.
More recently, the Brolga Project connected chicken egg farmers-cum-successful inventors, Evan and Daniel O'Brien of the Chicken Caravan Company, with UNSW Engineering student Sonny Sutanto.
Sonny explained his "project [was] to re-design the fit trailer using computer software, based on the current model … [It was] my first time in a rural Australian community and I [enjoyed] it very much."
With more than 2000 students on its books, the Brolga Project aims to get increasingly more enthusiastic candidates out into rural Australia for work experience.
To achieve this aim, the Brolga Project is seeking student applicants, as well as the support of host agencies from regional and rural communities nationwide.