This topic will be discussed as part of our online Bonfire Q&A on May 18th at 7:30pm, “Preventing Crime on Farm”
Bill Jones and his family live through some pretty tough times on the land.
But they were challenges he could see coming, could meet face on.
Being robbed is different; it’s an invasion of your private life. The idea that someone could take whatever they wanted from your house had really rocked Bill – and his family.
They’d never bothered with locking doors; lived a long way from town and the homestead couldn’t be seen from the road. But that hadn’t stopped thieves trashing the house and cleaned out his wife Sue’s jewellery and every bit of technology.
And while Bill was trying to process losing those personal treasures, with his faith in the goodness of others shaken to the core, his son Steve came in and said he’s called the police, the telehandler and twin cab ute had vanished from their other property. No-one really knew when, none of them had been out there for almost two weeks.
Bill said he had gone from unlocked doors and keys in the ignition of farm vehicles to doubting his neighbours, people he had known most of his life, “because none of them got robbed”.
“I’m probably wrong but just can’t help thinking it. I saw Jim and two farmhands in town today and I struggled to even speak as we crossed,” Bill said. “I know it wouldn’t have been Jim, but he has quite a few people working for him and who knows?” he said.
“What’s more, when the police came out they were very supportive. They had this very precise guide on boosting security – and your safety – on farms.
“It was really good, and I could have kicked myself because so many of its tips were so obvious; but I thought life in the country was different; here nearly everyone knows everyone else, we’re mates, families connected by marriage, we shouldn’t have to lock our doors.
“But I guess the times might have finally caught up with us, and it’s just so sad.”
Sue says sad doesn’t define what her husband has gone through.
She said he was blaming himself and just couldn’t let it go.
“He is devastated by the loss of my jewellery, a lot was my mother’s and grandmother’s, and was going to our daughter,” Sue said.
“I have tried to tell him it’s not the end of the world, but it is really eating at him.”
During the first visit, and when they came back to the farm to tell Bill the ute was recovered, police once more went through the steps he needed to take.
Bill was still getting that organised when Sue came flying out the back door to the shed where he was working, screaming with delight: “The police just rang, they think they’ve got nearly all my jewellery back after chasing up some clues from the ute”.
“How fantastic is that? From what they read out on their list of items I don’t think anything is missing,” she said hugging Bill.
That was when she noticed Bill crying. She knew all this had changed her husband, but now she was crying too.
“It’s alright,” he said. “It’s just all washed over me – we left ourselves wide open, and now we’re getting a second chance, I can’t believe it.
“Insurance will replace the telehandler but nothing would ever replace your jewellery.”
And Bill wasn’t taking any chances again, following police advice to the letter:
- Bill keeps an inventory of tools and equipment with each make, model and serial numbers recorded.
- All gates, doors, windows, and other openings have secure and working locks.
- His gates close properly, and gates to roads are chained.
- If you want the key to a farm vehicle it’s stored indoors – not in the ignition.
- All stock is more regularly counted and all are tagged.
- Firearms, chemicals, fuel, and other dangerous goods are stored in safe containers.
- All machinery and vehicles are catalogued, photographed, engraved and a copy is held in records – and a second registered with police.
- And he has CCTV cameras and sensor floodlights set up around buildings on all properties.
It took a bit of work, and a little bit of money to get all these things working – but Bill knows it’s priceless work.
Injuries on the farm can lead to stress, long-term health concerns and loss of income or even fatalities, so preventing them from happening is the best way of protecting your mental health. When it comes to running the family farm, investing in mental health initiatives is not only good for your family and workers, but it’s good for business too. The NCFH is supporting farmers just like you to manage and respond to work-related risks that impact on workplace mental health – these are factors in your work that can affect an employee’s mental health and include high job demands, low job control, low role clarity and more. Managing these factors, means decreasing the risk of work-related stress, which can prevent physical injury, mental injury or even both at the same time.
Find out more about being mentally safe on farm at www.farmerhealth.org.au/campfire.
This blog is part of the Primary Producer Knowledge Network led by the National Centre for Farmer Health to promote mentally healthy workplaces. Campfire, part of The Primary Producer Knowledge Network, is funded by the Victorian State Governments WorkSafe WorkWell Mental Health Improvement Fund.
You can join the online bonfire Q&A, “Preventing Crime on Farm” on May 18th at 7:30pm.
*Primary producers featuring in this blog are fictional, but based on research interviews with farmers, and developed with the assistance of the National Centre for Farmer Health