2015-11-24: ‘Look after your mates, farm leaders say’ – The Weekly Times

THE moment the headers stop and the harvest is over is when the full impact of drought will really hit home, warns Victorian Farmers Federation vice-president David Jochinke.

“That’s when we’ve got to face the reality of what the next year brings,” the Murra Wurra farmer said.

“Especially coming up to Christmas, when you’re looking at another tough 12 months that you’ve got to carry yourself through. It’s probably the most critical ­period and we have to make sure we get our arms around our farming community.

“We need to talk about our issues and if we feel that someone needs help, we can prompt them to seek it out.”

That is why Mr Jochinke was pleased to see the Victorian Government commit to funding the Look Over Your Farm Gate program, as part of a new $1.5 million drought extension program announced by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in Birchip on Sunday.

The program is a joint venture between the VFF, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Country Women’s Association, Country Fire Authority and National Centre for Farmer Health.

The organisations will work together on a series of workshops on mental and physical health and domestic violence issues in the farming and rural sector.

VFF president Peter Tuohey said it was critical farmers looked after other farmers. “I’ve had calls from farmers saying they’re a bit concerned about their neighbours and I can understand that,” Mr Tuohey said.

 Mr Jochinke said that Look Over Your Farm Gate was about “making sure we don’t let anyone fall through the cracks”.
 “It’s about trying to re-­engage with your community, especially people who aren’t getting out and about so much,” he said. “I reckon everybody knows someone in their community who withdraws a bit, especially when times get tough.”

Mr Jochinke said all farmers were likely to experience difficult times.

“I’ve had my moments — we’ve had some tough times,” he said.

“No one is bulletproof.”

“I’ve got friends that were touched by the whole Lockhart disaster (when a NSW farmer took his own life and that of his family in September last year) and you just don’t want to have any tragedies in your community.

“There’s no harm in asking someone ‘Are you OK?’. It doesn’t cost a thing.”

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