The Mental Health and Wellbeing of farmers and farm families has been an ongoing area of research and development for the Centre.

Following the Farm Family Business project funded by the Department of Family and Community Services, the resource “Managing the Pressures of Farming” was produced and continues to be distributed widely. 

Another program of work which has been ongoing since the late 1990’s is the Agrability network and while there has been limited activity on this since 2009 due to funding limitations, the information and ideas remain highly relevant. This network provided informal peer support to those with severe injury or disabling illness, and sought to find solutions which enable injured farmers to be productive in their farm endeavours.

Farmers with disabilities

AgrAbility Australia

The AgrAbility Australia network of injured and disabled farmers and carers was established in 1996 as part of a larger program of worked aimed at improving rehabilitation and return to work of farmers and farm workers across Australia.

AgrAbility Australia is an informal, peer support network of farmers who have suffered severe injury or disabling illness, and continue to seek and find solutions which enables them to be productive in their farm endeavours.

Meet some of the members who have come together to share ideas and encourage one another.

AgrAbility Australia membership is open to farmers with a disability or illness as well as their carers and family. A directory containing the contact details of members as well as the modifications they have made which has enabled them to return to work is updated at regular intervals as new members join. Click here for an AgrAbility Australia network of injured farmers and farm workers Application form.

Since January 2008 over 60 members with disabilities ranging from arthritis, diabetes and Parkinson disease to back pain, brain injuries, amputations and spinal cord injuries have joined the network.

See some of the modifications the members have made which allow them to keep working on the farm. See Member Information sheets below:

Help for Rehabilitation Service Providers

While the national accident and injury rate for the agricultural industries is high, farmers and farm workers represent a relatively small percentage of the overall client base for most rehabilitation service providers. Despite these statistics a survey of rehabilitation service providers found that over half the respondents wanted additional information and training in farmer rehabilitation, specifically:

  • Conducting agricultural worksite assessments
  • Identifying, selecting and implementing assistive technology in the agricultural workplace
  • Modifying farm work practices, and
  • Coping with disabilities in rural settings.

A series of resources have been developed to meet the needs of rehabilitation service providers. These resources are available from the AgrAbility Australia Resource Centre. See below.

AgrAbility Australia Resource Centre

The AgrAbility Australia Resource Centre contains resources and information about how to undertake an assessment of the farm work environment as well as how to modify machinery or fabricate assistive technology to accommodate an injury or disability. Additionally there is information about how to manage a disability in farm work environment.

Resources

The following publications are available:

AgrAbility Australia Newsletters
Additional Related Links

If you require further assistance, please contact us through the AgrAbility Australia Resource Centre Inquiry Form.

For further information contact:
Australian Centre for Agricultural Health & Safety
T: 02 6882 1486
E: aghealth@health.usyd.edu.au

Mental health and wellbeing

Mental Health Issues are important for the farming community with male farm owners and managers dying from suicide at around twice the rate of the national average of other males.

In NSW a Rural Mental Health Network has been established as a group of agencies and individuals who share a common goal and have agreed to work together to improve the mental health and wellbeing of farming people and farming communities. It’s work is based around a NSW Farmers Mental Health Blueprint which is a summary of key issues that should be addressed, and the major actions that should be taken. Click here to view ‘Blueprint’

One of the actions of the blueprint in which Ag Health has developed with farmers across Australia is enhancing the resilience in farming communities to manage the pressures of work and life on farm. A resource has been developed specific to NSW and SA farmers that provides information about the most difficult pressures on the farm business, farm family and personally and some practical tips to manage them.

Download the ‘Managing the Pressures of Farming’ full resources or complete the on-line checklists available under Checklists for Managing Pressures tab.

Hard copies are available upon request by contact our centre on 02 6882 1486.

Chartbook – The Mental Health of People on Australian Farms, available in ‘Research Reports’ under Chartbook Series.


Checklist for managing pressures

Below are three easy checklists for you to use and keep for future use. Start by using the checklists to identify the most difficult pressures to deal with on your farm. Plan to do the checklist each 12 months, when you are facing change or when pressures build up.
 
Once you have completed the checklists, more information about each pressure you have identified will be provided at the bottom of page. This will suggest a range of options including things you can do yourself, where to seek professional assistance and courses you can do.
Instructions:    1) If you select yes, move onto next question.

                           2) If any of your answers are No, refer to bottom of the checklist page for further guidance to assist.

These mental health support lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and have been put in place for farmers and other rural people by NSW Health and Lifeline Australia.
 
Many people in rural communities are facing pressures they find difficult to cope with and need to speak to someone about their problems. If you would like to talk to someone yourself or if you are worried about a family member or friend call one of the above support lines. Even if you don’t need the number now, put it in your phone book and
keep them handy for future use. 
 
Lifeline Australia
13 11 14
 
For NSW – NSW Rural Mental Health Support Line
1800 201 123