Originally written by WAYNE DREW
A $2.4 MILLION State Government grant will help to position Victoria as a national leader on farmer health and well-being by establishing a National Centre for Farmer Health in Hamilton.
The centre will be a joint partnership between the Western District Health Service and Deakin University Medical School and be located at Hamilton.
Premier John Brumby said yesterday in Hamilton that the National Centre for Farmer Health would be dedicated to improving and supporting the health and well-being of farmers, their employees and farm communities across Australia.
“We are taking action now to ensure the health of our rural workforce and the regional and rural communities in which they live,” Mr Brumby said.
“The new centre will aim to improve the health and well-being of farming families across Australia and will target families in areas of highest need that are undergoing rapid change.
“It will focus on finding preventative ways to improve the overall health of people who work on farms and their families and to develop cost-effective policies and programs to improve physical, mental and social health outcomes.”
Hub for research
Mr Brumby said in addition to day-to-day health services the National Centre for Farmer Health would become a hub for research into health issues in regional and rural areas.
“Research shows that the health of our rural workforce is poor when compared to urban areas, particularly in agricultural industries and this government is committed to improving the health and safety of regional and rural Victorians,” he said.
“Education and training programs will also be offered by health professionals working with the farming community to increase their skills and knowledge of farm-related health issues.”
Agriculture Minister, Joe Helper, said farming families were facing a period of unprecedented challenges and opportunities.
“Farm family health and on-farm safety are significant issues that need to be addressed to ensure the long-term future of this vital industry and this centre will ensure Victoria continues to lead the way in supporting farming families,” Mr Helper said.
In addition to $2.4 million in Government funding over four years the centre will receive a $1 million contribution from the Helen and Geoff Handbury Trust.
Mr Handbury said he was delighted to support the National Centre for Farmer Health project.
“The centre not only involves practical attention to farmers’ health but also the very important part of research which will only add to what we can do to assist in improving the health of farmers and their families in the future,” Mr Handbury said.
WDHS chief executive, Jim Fletcher, said the National Centre for Farmer Health would build on a Sustainable Farm Families program, which was developed locally, delivered nationally and recognised as a leading program for farm family health and wellbeing and safety.
“The National Centre for Farmer Health has been part of the long term vision of Sustainable Farm Families and this is fantastic news for Western District Health Service, Deakin University, Shire of Southern Grampians, farming communities and Victoria,” Mr Fletcher said.
“I would like to acknowledge the strong support for the National Centre for Farmer Health from the Helen and Geoff Handbury Trust, Deakin University, the State Government, farm industry and health partners in particular we acknowledge the outstanding support of our major benefactors the Handbury Trust whose financial support of this initiative has once again proved to be impetus for establishing another service for Western District Health Service and the Southern Grampians Shire.
“This partnership with Deakin University and Government is a great initiative that will increase our understanding of farm health, undertake service delivery, provide post graduate education and research and develop best practice evidence as a national initiative.