Introduction: Australian agriculture is vulnerable to an ageing and deceasing workforce, increasing technological demands, global markets, climate change and uncertainty. This poses challenges for work demand/control, workplace support, change management, role clarity/conflict, workplace relationships and environmental conditions—ultimately increasing psychological distress and suicide risk. The Primary Producer Knowledge Network (PPKN) aims to develop practical strategies to prevent work-related mental health risks in agriculture.
Method: PPKN engaged in a detailed co-design process with farmers and industry stakeholders—including stakeholder interviews, online development and feedback workshops, and pilot testing, and delivered online due to COVID19 restrictions. Co-design was informed by mental health research, evidence-based co-design strategies for working with vulnerable consumers, and identified work-related risks to health, wellbeing and safety.
Results: 9 recommendations were derived via co-design—guiding development of an interactive web platform, roadshow, and complementary resources to meet varying digital access/expertise. Ongoing solution-focused topic development—an iterative process with experts and primary producers—reflects varied needs of industry groups and age cohorts, and drives change in the design/management of work systems.
Conclusions: PPKN addresses work-related risk factors via an approach that is relevant, meaningful and empowering for the agriculture workforce. Co-design outcomes, challenges and recommendations are applicable across occupational groups where mental health and safety are of concern.