National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH)
Working together to promote positive, healthy farming communities
Farmer health is critical to the continued growth and prosperity of agricultural industries and regional communities. Rural Bank partners with NCFH to generate positive change in farmers’ lives.
Health and Lifestyle Assessments (HLAs): The NCFH has been providing HLAs to farm men, women and agricultural workers at field days, education workshops and farmer gatherings for over a decade. This work continues in collaboration with Rural Bank, Bendigo Bank and Community Bank® branches.
Training and Education: The NCFH has delivered their Managing People in Stressful Situations workshop to Rural Bank staff across the country. This program enables Rural Bank staff to better understand rural health issues and gives them skills and resources to assist customers and communities when needed.
Farmer Health Week: This flexible program of interchangeable events combines existing NCFH programs in a multi-day event arranged in collaboration with regional Community Bank® clusters.
Farmers need to make their health a priority
Rural Bank assisted NCFH to deliver 1,344 Health and Lifestyle Assessments at Field Days during 2016–2018. Statistics from these assessments* revealed some alarming trends.
Of those assessed:
- Over 78 per cent were recommended to see a GP or an allied health professional for further assessment
- On at least a monthly basis, 57 per cent consume alcohol at short-term high-risk levels
- 38 per cent were experiencing moderate to very high psychological distress
- Over 78 per cent were classified as overweight or obese
- High blood pressure was measured for 56 per cent
- Almost half (47 per cent) NEVER wear a helmet while riding a quad bike or motorbike
- Developing Type 2 diabetes within five years was a high risk for 63 per cent
A farmer health quick tip sheet can be downloaded here (PDF, 1.4MB).
Why focus on farm safety?
Farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in Australia*. Almost a quarter of all work-related deaths across the country in 2016 were in the agricultural industries.
A number of competing hazards on farm contributes to the risk of injury. Common hazards include livestock, chemicals, machinery and vehicles, noise, water and exposure to weather.
Agriculture employs a higher proportion of older workers than any other industry (16 per cent are aged 65 and over). An ageing workforce combined with farmer’s increased likelihood of working alone increases risks to safety.
The most common causes of death in agricultural workplaces involve vehicles, which account for over 75 per cent of fatalities. Tractors, quad bikes and even aircraft most often cause these deaths.
As well as the inherent dangers of working in agriculture, the health and wellbeing of farmers can be affected by lifestyle factors too. Although physically demanding, the way we farm has changed. Farmers spend a lot more time sitting, and as a result, many are becoming overweight.
Regarding emotional and social wellbeing, the pressures of managing a farm during difficult times can be highly stressful. Social isolation and working long, irregular hours can exacerbate this and may lead to anxiety or depression.
Find out more
If you’re interested in learning more about NCFH programs, or want more specific information about health, wellbeing and safety issues, visit www.farmerhealth.org.au.
* Information from Safe Work Australia © Commonwealth of Australia 2018. Statistics from report to Rural Bank on ‘Health & Lifestyle Assessments 2016-2018 Events Summary’ dated January 2019.