Developing leaders in agricultural health and medicine

  • Credit: Erinna Ford. Developing leaders in agricultural health and medicine

Photo: Samantha Kaspers

Now entering its eighth year, Australia’s only postgraduate agricultural health and medicine unit for professionals servicing farming communities attracts participants from across Australia. The course, offered through Deakin University, has been designed to equip health providers, rural professionals and farming communities with the knowledge and skills they need to address the high morbidity and mortality rates in the agricultural industry. To date, 120 professionals working in agriculture, medicine, allied health and nursing have undertaken the course.

The National Centre for Farmer Health’s (NCFH), Dr Susan Brumby said:

“We know that a healthy workforce is vital for a productive agricultural industry, but through the work of the NCFH, we have learnt that farming families and their communities face poorer health outcomes than their urban counterparts. Agricultural workers have a high rate of injuries, including fatalities, and suffer chronic diseases at high rates.”

“A growing number of agricultural and health professionals are addressing the health disparities in our agricultural and rural populations and making a real difference to the lives of farmers and their families and employees” she said.

This was the case for Louisa Ferrier, an agricultural project manager from Birchip Vic, who undertook the course in 2015. 

“The course offered relevant information I could apply to my field of work. Studying with people from a range of backgrounds has strengthened my understanding of what makes a farmer tick: a healthy farmer will make better decisions” she said.

Felix Ho, intern and former paramedic in Darwin NT agreed:

“You’re not just focussing on medical conditions, but on the range of factors that impact on these conditions in an agricultural context – the family, community and economic aspects.”

The five-day-intensive Agricultural Health and Medicine unit is being offered through the NCFH in Hamilton, Western Victoria, on 27 February - 3 March 2017. The course will cover a broad range of agricultural health, safety and wellbeing issues: from mental illness and addiction through to emergency medicine, agrichemicals and agricultural trauma. The course has been accredited for professional development points in areas of medicine, veterinary science, social work and nursing. Applications for scholarships closed on 31 October 2016, with one scholarship reserved for a person engaged in agriculture and/or a member of a farming family.

The five-day unit can be completed as a stand-alone course, or as part of Deakin University’s Graduate Certificate of Agricultural Health and Medicine.

For more information contact Jacquie Cotton, Lecturer Rural Health at NCFH on 03 5551 8533 or visit

Course details are also available at

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