2012-06-18 SFF strikes gold in major evaluation

The Sustainable Farm Families program is not just saving agricultural families and workers; it is proving a feather in the cap of the Hamilton-based National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH).

A Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation evaluation has assessed SFF as its most successful package within the current project framework.

RIRDC Managing Director, Craig Burns says the evaluations aim at selecting the most effective to undertake research and development and research application activities to improve the:

• Physical health of farming and fishing workers and their families,

• Mental health of farming and fishing families, and

• The safety of the work environment and practices in farming and fishing industries.

One of the three programs selected for assessment in 2011 was the Farming and Fishing Health and Safety Program.

Mr Burns says a part of each specific program review is to select randomly three independent investments within the program for an impact evaluation through cost benefit analysis.

He says the three economic analyses provide specific case studies that will demonstrate the extent and distribution of benefits that “have been, are being, or will be, captured in the future”.

“Another purpose of the economic analyses is to contribute to a process being undertaken for the Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations which aims to demonstrate through outcomes and benefits which have emerged, or are likely to emerge, from the 15 Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs),” he says.

“The projects evaluated demonstrated predominantly economic and social benefits, a number of which were quantified in value terms.”

The investment in Sustainable Farm Families – Future Directions has contributed to demonstrating the impact of the SFF approach to improving health and safety on farms.”

This will in turn contribute to continued funding of the program, and continued interest in the program by farming families.

“The benefits from the project have been estimated by valuing the improvements in health for those participants who would not have been a part of the future SFF program if the Future Directions project had not been undertaken.”

NCFH Acting Director, Cate Mercer-Grant says the evaluation demonstrated that SFF had:

• Saved health costs for future additional participants and their families.

• Saved long-term public health costs due to preventative health, wellbeing and safety measures taken by additional future participants.

• Saved health costs for participants in the Future Directions project due to reinforcement of messages from earlier SFF participation.

Ms Mercer-Grant adds the evaluation showed improved health, safety and wellbeing of future additional participants and their families who will participate in SFF due to evidence provided by the Future Directions project.

She says there will also be improved health, safety and wellbeing for participants in the Future Directions project due to reinforcement of messages from earlier SFF participation.

“It is a demonstration of the quality of the programs NCFH chooses to present, and the level of professionalism of our staff doing the work at the coalface,” she says.

“To get the highest rating of the programs evaluated as part of RIRDC’s ongoing assessment of the money it and other investors sink into operations such as NCFH and the products and services we provide sends a clear message.”

“The information and courses we deliver are cutting edge and have tangible positive, long-term impacts in agricultural communities, which is what we are all about.”

Ms Mercer-Grant says from SFF to its HMF701 Agricultural Health and Medicine unit offered in partnership with the School of Medicine at Deakin University to its annual conference, being held in September, NCFH is all about its core mission.

A mission she says is to better equip agricultural communities, and the people who support them, with the skills for better health, safety and wellbeing.

“We are delighted with the success of the SFF evaluation and believe it reflects strongly on the quality of everything the team at NCFH does,” she says.

“It is a professionalism matched with extraordinary commitment and is an honour rightfully shared by everyone here.”

Further details are available from the National Centre for Farmer Health website www.farmerhealth.org.au

or phone 03 5551 8533