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The sustainable farm families project: changing farmer attitudes to health

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conference contribution
posted on 2006-01-01, 00:00 authored by Susan BrumbySusan Brumby, J Martin, S Willder
Farm health and safety has focussed on strategies such as injury prevention, audits and fulfilling legislative responsibilities. We know farmer injuries mask deeper health issues such as higher rates of cancer, suicides, cardiovascular disease and stress. The relationship between occupational health and safety and farming family health has not been investigated by other researchers either nationally or internationally. The Sustainable Farm Families (SFF) project attempts to make this connection in order to address the unacceptable rates of premature death, higher morbidity and injury on Australian farms.

The SFF focuses on the human resource in the triple bottom line and is working with farmers, families, industry, and university to collaboratively address and improve the health and well being of farming families. Based on a model of extension that engages farming families as active learners where they commit to healthy living and safe working practices the SFF is proving to be an effective model for engaging communities in learning and change. Health education and information is delivered to farming families using a workshop format with participants reporting positive impacts on their farming business. The SFF project sits across generations and sexes and has a high level of support with the overwhelming majority of participants saying they would recommend the program to others.

This paper discusses the progress of the research outlining the design of the project, the delivery and extension processes used to engage 321 farming families to date. The paper presents key learning’s on intersectoral collaboration, engaging farmers and families in health and the future for this project extending into agricultural industries across the nation.

Three key learnings: (1) The increased health risks faced by farmers and their families need social and political attention. (2) Joint ownership and collaborative partnerships where all partners have a key role within the development and delivery of the project to their relevant representative groups enables resources to be shared and encourages greater in-kind support to augment funding received. (3) Farming families are keen to understand more about their health and farmers who participate in health education programs based around industry collaboration with high levels of individual participation will engage with health professionals and obtain an improved health status if programs are presented to them in personally engaging and relevant ways



Beechworth, Vic.

Open access

  • Yes

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Paper found : Stream 2: Multiple scales of practice change

Publication classification

E1.1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2006, The Regional Institute


Petheram R, Johnson R

Title of proceedings

APEN 2006 : Practice change for sustainable communities: Exploring footprints, pathways and possibilities: Proceedings of APEN International Conference


APEN. International Conference ( 2006 : Beechworth Vic.)


The Regional Institute Ltd

Place of publication

Gosford, N.S.W.