John Martin: Farmer health, social connection and community resilience: bohemians or bedfellows?

Keynote presenter:  John Martin

Organisation: La Trobe University


The nature of rural society has meant that farmers regularly associate in informal ways with their neighbours discussing farming practices, prices and how policy impacts their livelihood. This informal, bohemian association, typical of writers, artists, and craftspeople, is essential for farmers to develop a perspective on the many issues and choices they have running their family business. With such a common set of issues farmers – often represented in popular culture as individualistic, self determining and stoic in the face of the environmental and economic adversity they encounter – are, in fact, bedfellows in their common story of addressing these challenges and their survival. Understanding the role of social connection and community resilience and its impact on the health and wellbeing of farming families and Australian rural communities is an important outcome of the Sustainable Farm Families program. In this presentation we reflect on the social and policy impacts of this innovative farming family health and wellbeing program; discuss the implication for farmer health policy more generally and predict the impact on the security of our nation’s food and fibre in the absence of public policy that recognises and responds to the increasing turbulence facing Australian farming communities.