One of the biggest risks for farmers can’t be seen.
This week is National Farm Safety Week where a light is shone on hazards that face farm workers and ways to mitigate risk. Safe Work Australia rates agriculture as one the most dangerous industries in the nation.
One of the largest rural charities in Australia, Rural Aid, says that while farm machinery, chemicals, vehicles, grain augers and livestock are physical hazards, it is worth highlighting another common risk for farmers that can’t be seen.
CEO John Warlters said that neglecting to prioritise the wellbeing and welfare of primary producers is just as hazardous as the many on-farm risks
“Farming is already a high-risk job. You’re working from heights, with complex machinery, handling livestock, and the single vehicle incident rate is huge. On top of that, stress caused by long working hours, drought, bushfires, financial worries, price uncertainty, and high input costs is ever present,” Mr Warlters says.
“There is a correlation between people suffering stress or overwhelm and accidents occurring.
“The mental health, welfare and general wellbeing of primary producers is a key focus for us, and complacency can be a real issue just as it is with tangible risks.”
Research shows three significant factors that directly influence the delivery of counselling services within rural communities are stigma, social isolation and mental health literacy, but Mr Warlters says times are changing.
“We’re seeing farmers gradually becoming more and more comfortable with taking up counselling when they need it. We had nearly 1800 primary producers reach out to our counselling services in the first quarter of the year. Some received support via phone, others face to face, and also through our monthly webinars.”
To meet the needs of people in rural areas, Rural Aid has qualified, nationally registered counsellors who visit farmers and rural communities.
Rural Aid currently has six counsellors based in Brisbane, West Wyalong, Toowoomba, Cessnock and Bathurst. They conduct thousands of counselling sessions, face to face and over the phone, and make thousands of outbound calls to farmers each year
If you’d like to talk with a counsellor, call Rural Aid on 1300327624. All contact is private and confidential, and any referrals are treated in the highest ethical manner.
About Rural Aid
Rural Aid is one of Australia’s largest rural charities. Well known for the highly successful ‘Buy a Bale’ campaign, the charity also provides financial assistance, water and counselling to farmers in times of drought, flood or fire. Other initiatives support its vision that farming and rural communities are safeguarded to ensure their sustainability both during and after these natural disasters. Visit www.ruralaid.org.au for further information on these programs and other support for our rural communities.