Safe farms and strong family health comes to fore in farm safety week

We are in Farm Safety Awareness Week so please take extra care and alert others that are less experienced around farm sheds yards and paddocks

Carol Markie-Dadds is behind the Triple P Positive Parenting Program funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care says it’s an opportunity to adopt early intervention strategies during Farm Safety Awareness Week

This Farm Safety Awareness Week that runs from 18 to 24 July is a time to reflect on anything that could cause a physical hazard around the farm, and as a progressive society demands, take more interest in the mental health of farm workers and your family.

We are at a time in history that in many instances is putting pressure on our children and young adults to a level they are certainly not used to. And those times are set to continue for the next few years and it will require farm management to be far more diligent than has been required in the past.

The sweeping change we have witnessed on farms is a high level of physical safety being attained with fewer physical accidents, but we are seeing an upswing in mental health issues and that is an area that will need more attention moving forward.

And this week, Triple P – Positive Parenting Program experts are lending a hand by asking farming families to not only address the physical and mental risks on the farm but to take active steps to support mental health and wellbeing to create a positive, strong farm family where everyone benefits.

Carol Markie-Dadds, Triple P International Country Director, said this year’s theme ‘Recipe for Averting Disaster’ is an opportunity to adopt early intervention strategies that are proven to help build happy, resilient, confident children and young people.

“The blurring of work and home, long, physically demanding hours, weather events, labour shortages, financial strain, social isolation, and succession planning, are all risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing mental health concerns and negatively impact family life. Many of our farming families are exposed regularly to these risks,” Carol said.

“Life on the land can leave parents stressed, anxious, unhappy or tired and questioning their parenting,” she said, “however the good news is there are some practical things you can do to get farm family life back under control and start enjoying your time together,” Carol added.

Top 5 Triple P Tips for Farming Families

  1. Look after yourself: It’s important to take care of your own mental health and wellbeing. This means finding time to do things you enjoy and seeking support – practical and emotional – when you need it. Ask for help early, before problems escalate.  Call on friends and family you trust – there’s no need to face challenges alone.
  2. Balance work time and family time: Have a clear signal to let your children know when you’re working versus not working, and when you’re off the clock, make time to be with your family. Remove distractions so you can be emotionally present with your family.
  3. Tune in and guide your children: Show you care. Take an interest in your children’s activities. Talk with them about what’s expected and help them learn to do things for themselves. Children thrive when they have parents who are warm and loving, yet able to guide them and set fair limits.
  4. Spend quality time together: Find small ways, that fit in with the farm schedule, to be together often and build strong relationships with your children. This may be while doing a particular chore that becomes a special time for you and one or more of your children, or it may be separate to farm life, like reading a bedtime story.
  5. Keep your family safe from harm: Every working farm is different, but they all have hazards. Prioritise the safety of your family. For example, have safe and non-safe zones that your children know about, set rules for using equipment safely such as wearing helmets and seatbelts, and give your children age-appropriate farm work that can be carried out under adult supervision. Visit farmsafe.org.au for more tips on keeping safe on farms.

“Early intervention and prevention are key to making sure the entire family feels safe and supported this Farm Safety Week and beyond,” Carol concluded.  

Delivery of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program to parents and carers of children in Australia is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care under the Parenting Education and Support Program. Parents and carers can access free, online parenting support 24/7 at www.triplep-parenting.net.au

Some important facts about farm life

  • A child who is growing up with a parent who has mental health concerns is two to three times more likely to develop mental health concerns themselves.
  • Young people and families living on the land often experience greater levels of mental health concerns than those living in metropolitan areas.
  • In 2016, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that there were 87,325 farming families in Australia and 48% of them were parents with children living with them.
  • Farmers (regardless of rurality) are less likely to seek help for poor mental health and well-being despite awareness of it.
  • Overall, the likelihood of farmers visiting a general practitioner or mental health worker (e.g. psychiatrist, psychologist or alcohol or drug counsellor) is half as likely as non-farmers.

Difficult-to-reach populations like farming communities can particularly benefit from technology-assisted parenting interventions.