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A self-confessed “girly girl” from Bowral is challenging stereotypes about the traditionally male-dominated butchery trade and, with the help of TAFE NSW, is about to become a fully-fledged tradeswoman.
Elizabeth D’Anastasi, 17, is a third year apprentice at Bowral’s Oxley Butchery and completing a Certificate III in Meat Processing (Retail Butcher) at TAFE NSW Wollongong.
Only 5.3 per cent of butchers in NSW are female and Ms D’Anastasi said while customers were supportive, some were surprised to see a woman wielding the butcher’s knife.
“When people ask me what I do for a job, most assume I’m a hairdresser or something similar,” Ms D’Anastasi said.
“But I really love being a butcher because there’s always something new to learn and I love the customers. I also love seeing a carcass turn into the end product.”
Ms D’Anastasi has butchery in her blood, with her uncle completing the trade, and she harbours ambitions to own or manage her own butchery in the future.
Her TAFE NSW teacher Michael Knowles delivers regular hands-on, practical training to her one-on-one at her workplace.
“Michael is great; he really understands how to communicate with young people and breaks things down for me so it’s easy to understand,” she said. “He’s always there to answer questions, even when he’s not physically here.”
Oxley Butchery owner Martin Nonnenmacher, whose business employs two female butchers, said females brought a unique perspective and skill-set to the trade.
“The girls tend to have a bit more of an eye for detail than the blokes,” Mr Nonnenmacher said.
“Elizabeth is a great tradeswoman and the customers love her.
“Some do look a little surprised after she serves them when she goes off and cuts the meat her self though.
“TAFE NSW has been so supportive by teaching the parts of the trade she is less likely to pick up in the workplace.”
Mr Knowles said the butchery industry was evolving to meet the market but the old-fashioned hallmarks of selection, quality and service remained.
“COVID has actually been kind to the meat industry because supermarkets were selling out of meat and it forced a lot of people to go to their local independent butcher for the first time in years,” Mr Knowles said.
“It made them realise how much better the service and quality is at the butchers and that the butcher was producing cheaper and more nutritious meals than pubs and clubs.
“The industry might be changing but there will always be demand for great butchers and great meat.”
To find out more about studying at TAFE NSW, phone 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au
Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist