Meet Yannik Nau: Your local abattoir worker and amusement ride operator

Young father Yannik Nau holds a very unique job portfolio to make ends meet (Image Source: Nina Phillips)

By Nina Phillips

From slaughtering animals to operating amusement park rides, 22-year-old Yannik Nau juggles several different jobs to provide for his young son.

As a child, Yannik dreamed of becoming a mechanic like his grandfather, however, after beginning work as a part-time farmhand in Port Wakefield at age 11, his career ambitions began to shift toward the agriculture industry.

“I never thought I would work in an abattoir,” Yannik said.

“It’s not a bad workplace though… carving up is fun; you get to use big knives.”

Yannik began working at an abattoir when he was 16, after a fellow farm worker introduced him to the business.

Two years later, following the birth of his son, Yannik began part-time work as an amusement park ride operator.

Yannik currently works at an abattoir most weekdays and spends his days off setting up and operating children’s rides at country fairs and other public events.

“Setting up bouncing castles and working with kids is a good break from [abattoir work],” Yannik said.

The abattoir Yannik works at is one of approximately 300 Australian abattoirs that process millions of animals each year.

The industry is largely dominated by males, half of whom are below the age of 35.

Several of Yannik’s abattoir co-workers chose to enter the meat processing industry after completing university degrees in completely unrelated fields.

“It’s definitely not a job for everyone,” Yannik said.

“It’s necessary and we take pride in what we do.”

As a farmhand, Yannik was required to kill several sickly animals, so beginning work in this industry did not phase him.

“I was 11 when I first killed,” Yannik said.

“The lamb was quite sick and going to die regardless.

“What I’d done didn’t really sink in until a few hours later… I was a little sad, but… you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

As an abattoir worker, Yannik primarily slaughters goats and cattle.

“People think it’s a loser’s job…but it actually takes a lot of skill…one wrong cut will ruin the meat,” Yannik said.

“People these days want the burger but ignore all the hard work that goes into making the patty.

“It’s not so much about the slaughtering. You take great pride in being able to feed families.”

However, when it comes to his own family and friends, Yannik tries to talk about his work as little as possible

“I have quite a few vegan and vegetarian friends… we just avoid talking about my job,” Yannik said.

Yannik said his primary motivation for abattoir work is to support his family, and he is strongly opposed to exposing his one-year-old son to the abattoir industry for the foreseeable future.

“Maybe when [my son is] 13 or 14…he’s going to be a city boy so he’s not going to understand the reality of it for a while,” Yannik said.

“When he’s ready, when he gets it…you beauty, bring him out.”

Yannik was 18 when his partner became pregnant with their son.

“It was a big kick up the bum… got me to straighten things out quick smart,” Yannik said.

On top of his usual full-time abattoir work, Yannik is wrapping up a three-week stint at Skating at Victoria Square, for the winter school holidays, where he set up and operated several rides.

During the opening week of the event, Yannik was eager to bring his son along.

From atop the Ferris wheel, park-goers could see a young man beaming with pride as his son bounced up and down on a small bouncing castle next to a hot dog stand.

“It’s all about making people’s day,” Yannik said.

“It’s funny… making people happy through food and making people’s day through rides… it’s kind of similar.”

In the future, Yannik hopes to combine his passion for agriculture and working with children to become a secondary school teacher of agriculture and outdoor education.

He is currently completing year 13 at Northern Adelaide Senior College and hopes to begin university as soon as possible.

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