New Director for the National Centre for Farmer Health

The National Centre for Farmer Health, based in Hamilton, Victoria, has announced the appointment of Dr. Alison Kennedy as its new Director.  Dr. Kennedy will take up the role immediately after serving as Acting Director since July last year.

Dr. Kennedy commenced employment with the NCFH in 2010, has experience in a number of roles with the Centre, and was recently appointed as Associate Professor with Deakin University’s School of Medicine.

“It’s been an incredible privilege and learning experience to have grown as a researcher and farmer health leader while immersed in the growing National Centre for Farmer Health over the last 12 years.” Dr. Kennedy said.

“While not a traditional academic pathway, my work at the Centre to date has offered me unique opportunities through invaluable connection to community, the agriculture industry, and rural health providers; collaboration with world-leading researchers; and, incredibly rewarding work with an inspiring and talented multi-disciplinary NCFH team.”

Dr. Kennedy’s work at the NCFH to date has largely focused on mental health and suicide prevention, including the use of innovative digital communications methods to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in rural areas (via the Ripple Effect and a range of digital storytelling projects with farming men, women, and young people). 

She also leads the Primary Producer Knowledge Network, working with farmers and industry stakeholders to prevent work-related risks to mental health for farmers and farmworkers. Her research findings have informed the development of a range of community-driven and community-informed programs and resources including mental health education workshops, the Steering Straight prevention-focused plan to support personal mental health, and the Campfire digital platform, podcasts, and blogs.

The selection process was rigorous in order to identify prospective directors who would add significant experience and insight to the Centre and the work it is doing. NCFH Chair, Mr. Greg Walcott, said it was particularly pleasing to be able to appoint a new Director from within the staff. 

“Dr. Kennedy has developed the qualifications and ability required and is widely known and respected for her leadership in mental health and suicide prevention within farming communities. After serving as Acting Director, Dr. Kennedy’s appointment will ensure a seamless transition into a new era for the Centre as it continues to grow and broaden its activities.”

Dr. Kennedy takes on the position after the Centre’s Founding Director, Professor Sue Brumby, stepped down from the role. Professor Brumby was the driving force behind the establishment of the Centre in 2008 and led the Centre through its developing years and into the important position it maintains today.

Dr. Kennedy said about her predecessor, “Sue has left a great legacy through the formation and development of the NCFH, and has been (and continues to be) a wonderful mentor to myself and others in the NCFH team.

While recognising that we have made important gains in recent years to support health, wellbeing, and safety in farming communities (locally, nationally, and internationally), there is certainly much more that needs to be done. I’m looking forward to working collaboratively with the community, industry, and our health and research partners to create innovative and effective ways to enable and empower farming populations to take control of their own health, wellbeing, and safety.”

To connect with Dr Kennedy, email or call the NCFH on (03) 5551 8533.