2014-02-03 Your last chance for the last places in Agricultural Heath and Medicine program

The National Centre for Farm Health’s HMF701 Agricultural Heath and Medicine program will be run at its Hamilton, Victoria, headquarters from February 24-28.

With only a few places still available it has again attracted an impressive cross section of people working in, or with, rural and regional Australians.

A lineup NCFH director Susan Brumby says includes a paramedic from the Northern Territory, agricultural scientist from South Australia and mental health clinician from Camperdown in Victoria’s Western District.

Associate clinical professor Brumby says HMF701 Agricultural Heath and Medicine is a five-day intensive study unit offered by the School of Medicine at Deakin University and the National Centre for Farmer Health.

She says it aims to develop the next generation of rural and agricultural health leaders to improve the health, safety and wellbeing of rural and remote Australians.

“HMF701 is an excellent fit for a wide variety of graduate level students and professionals from nursing, medicine, health, agricultural science, agribusiness, social work, veterinary and environmental science backgrounds,” she says.

“And HMF701 is also a core unit for the Graduate Certificate of Agricultural Health and Medicine qualification.”

“The course will increase your understanding of the clinical, physical and mental health factors which result in higher rates of injury, illness and death in rural and remote communities.

This information will help professionals who want to improve:

  • Agricultural production and sustainability.
  • Enhance understanding of health research, policy and literacy in rural and remote communities.
  • Gain an understanding of what is required for effective health provision in agricultural communities.”

Based at Katherine, paramedic Felix Ho is also studying medicine and says he considers the course will improve his ability to deliver in his current role and help provide him with a valuable grounding in his medical studies.

“Obviously my interest is in rural health, and even when I am based out of Darwin we are still working with a lot of people working in primary industry,” Felix says.

“From what I have heard about this course I expect what I learn in HMF701 I will be able to use it to help the people I work with, for my own career and to educate my peers,” he says.

A seven-year paramedic veteran in the Top End – and former Young Australian of the Year in community service – Felix says he has been picking up on the course from others in his field as well as from a range of rural bodies.

Which is also where agricultural scientist Dr. Sjaan Davey picked up on HMF701 and while she does not deliver health services she says she sees enormous value in improving her own understanding of the issues in rural health.

Dr. Davey says her role with the SA Research and Development Institute where she is currently focused on work in nematology sees her travel widely in rural and regional areas.

“I have always been interested in this, as the health side of life in rural Australia is so important and I don’t think there is anywhere near enough emphasis placed on it,” Dr. Davey says.

“I see all sorts of people so the more awareness I have the better. I come from a farming background in Zimbabwe, having moved to Australia in 2004, and I am confident that in the right circumstances what I learn in this course will enable me to promote, suggest and recommend what I have learnt,” she says.

“This is the first time I will do a course like this and I got onto it through the GRDC magazine Ground Cover, which was promoting its value.”

For adult mental health team clinician Angela Winkler her involvement in HMF701 is a given.

Angela says she comes from a dairy farm, married a dairy farmer, and has worked in district hubs throughout the Western District in her current role.

She says she found out about the course on the NCFH website and could see its value immediately.

“Never mind six degrees of separation, the people I see are people I live and work with and the more I know to help them the better it will be for everyone,” she says.

“While I am sure I will know about most of what this course contains to be able to formalise it will be a valuable investment for me and the people I work with.

“We deal with people aged 18 to 64 and there is an ever-increasing demand for what we do.

“I think in part that is because today there is less stigma attached to seeking help. When you have senior politicians and high-profile sports people prepared to go public with their problems it helps your average person know they can too.

“And in the bush, sadly, we all know someone who has committed suicide so seeking help is the first step in recovery and having this specialist knowledge will be my next step in helping those people.”

Angela also says she and her colleagues have a good network of support working closely with local GPs, many of whom are also aware of the value of HMF701.

Associate clinical professor Brumby says anyone interested in securing one of the last places for the 2014 course should contact Dr. Jacquie Cotton on (03) 55518585 now.