2012-10-24 Farmer centre gets more medical help for farmers’ health

The National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH) is pleased that the Commonwealth Government has extended its Specialist Training Program funding for the public health medicine registrar position at the National Centre for Farmer Health until the end of 2015. This position is accredited with the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine’s (AFPHM) Training Program.

Based at NCFH in the agricultural hub of Hamilton, the position is focused on targeted health promotion activities for farming families and communities. The funding has enabled the current Public Health Medicine Trainee employed in the position, Dr Mark Newell, to gain valuable training experience in rural and agricultural health. The position has also provided Dr Newell the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills required as a public health medicine trainee.

Western District Health Service Chief Executive Officer Jim Fletcher said ‘This scheme is all about trying to bring health professionals to the people, and with the research and service delivery base at the NCFH we will be able to help accurately measure farmer conditions and needs’.

Dr. Newell said ‘My work at the NCFH has included conducting a study on the impact of arthritis on farming men and women in Victoria, assisting with health assessments at agricultural events, giving talks to agricultural populations, lecturing to post graduate students on public health aspects of farmer health and conference presentations on farmer health’.

Dr. Newell has also been able to complete the Deakin University course in Agricultural Health and Medicine as the Centre is a partnership between Western District Health Service and Deakin University School of Medicine. This position thus offers a unique opportunity for training public health medicine registrars.

The Chair of the AFPHM Education Committee, Dr Lynne Madden said “The opportunity for doctors to be involved in public health physician training at the NCFH is helping to develop a public health workforce more attuned to the needs of rural communities”. “There is a continuing need for public health medical expertise and capacity in rural Australia.”

“Funding through the Specialist Training Program is allowing our trainees to be involved in a broader range of public health policy, community based health services and research, with an overall aim of improving the health of the whole Australian community” Dr Madden said.

NCFH director Susan Brumby said “We are very pleased to see this position continuing, it is vital for healthcare that the broad brush of medicine including disease prevention and multi-disciplinary approaches are used by health service studies to determine the health needs of regional and rural communities. Rural areas too often come at the end of the planning line because, although they cover big areas, they have smaller populations.”

The NCFH centre will now start to look for a suitable applicant to fill the position as Dr. Mark Newell finishes in December 2012.

Hamilton is an excellent location with close by bushwalking at the Grampians and the coast at Port Fairy and having excellent primary and secondary schools.

Further details are available from
Jim Fletcher, Western District Health Service, (03) 5551 8215.