Reconnecting and re-engaging after COVID-19

  • Three people in front of a banner
  • Boy wearing protective equipment in classroom
  • Person next to cows rear legs

The deadly and pervasive nature of COVID-19 secured it as a central focus across the globe. While we zeroed in on minimising its impact, other areas of our physical and mental health were pushed to the side. The National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH) is eager to empower rural and remote populations to reconnect with other aspects of their health, wellbeing and safety in 2022. This will be the year where face-to-face services regain momentum, while we maintain and complement our connection to more remote communities through the delivery of online services.

After two years of disruptive lockdowns, the prospect of re-engaging with our community members face-to-face – both locally and nationally – is exciting. With the re-introduction of in-person healthcare services, the valued AgriSafe Clinics have begun for the year.

‘Great to have the highly qualified and specialist expertise of the National Centre for Farmer Health. They understand the reality of everyday life in agriculture and it's well overdue for farmers to take their health more seriously.’ – Marius Cuming, after an AgriSafe™ Clinic.

Conducted by agrihealth-trained registered nurses, AgriSafe Clinics provide a complete one-on-one occupational health, wellbeing and safety check-up tailored to farmers and agricultural workers. Engaging with people directly offers the opportunity for conversations to evolve naturally and to build rapport in a way that may be limited when engaging online.

‘Evaluations show the significant benefits that AgriSafe Clinics have for our farmers – everything from improved use of personal protective equipment, understanding and addressing their noise and chemical exposures, to losing weight and becoming more physically active. It’s exciting to see our farmers taking control of their health, wellbeing and safety.’ – Alison Kennedy, Acting Director NCFH

This is equally important when seeking to engage with the next generation of young farmers, especially after two years of remote learning. With children returning to the classrooms, secondary schools can plan for interactive programs such as Gear Up for Ag. This interactive program is being rolled out to rural Victorian schools, agricultural training colleges and TAFE campuses to help educate future Australian farmers on the importance of health, wellbeing and safety on farms.

‘I took away a lot of knowledge about health and safety on farms including stuff about respirators/masks and handling chemicals in the correct way. I'll definitely take all this information into my daily farm practices.’Lucy, 19, Cert II ag student

The pandemic-driven shift towards online health services has proven that people are willing to seek medical help online, breaking barriers that previously limited the availability and acceptance of certain services. One such resource is the Farmer Health Assessment Tool (Farmer HAT), an online platform enabling farmers and agricultural workers to assess and track their health, wellbeing and safety from the comfort of their own farms.

‘Farmer HAT is an exciting new resource that breaks down geographic barriers to support the health, wellbeing and safety of our farmers across Australia. No cost, no travel required and no excuses. Farmer HAT is at the fingertips of all our farming communities. Simple to use, helpful information for getting back on track and easy to track health over time.’ – Alison Kennedy, Acting Director NCFH

The emergence of COVID-19 left little room in the spotlight for other ongoing health, wellbeing and safety issues faced by rural and remote Australians. While we continue to reconnect and re-engage with each other, and with other aspects of our health, the NCFH is eager to seize the opportunities and address the challenges facing rural and remote Australians in 2022 and the years to come.

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