Supporting Teachers to Deliver Farm Safety Education: Introducing Shifting Gears

Hamilton, Victoria, 13/06/2023 – The National Centre for Farmer Health introduces Shifting Gears, an innovative farm health and safety program for schools that is set to revolutionise agricultural education. Developed as a teacher-led, secondary school-based program, Shifting Gears aims to enhance farm safety culture and bridge the gap between agriculture and horticulture studies and the national skills program.

Shifting Gears stands out from other initiatives by presenting the broader context of agricultural injury in rural Australia through relatable content tailored specifically for young people. This groundbreaking program promises to provide valuable insights and knowledge for middle and senior school students residing on farms, studying agriculture and horticulture, or exploring careers in the field.

Alarming trends have surfaced from recent data collected by the National Centre for Farmer Health about child safety on farms. Statistics from the Gear Up for Ag program show that over half of the participants were 8 years old or younger when they began work on the farm. Disturbingly, among those currently riding a quadbike on a farm, only half reported wearing a helmet most or all the time, with 60 percent carrying passengers. Moreover, 72 percent of students expressed concerns about the safety of their family or friends on the farm. Of the students currently helping or working on farms, 47 percent state they supervise others, primarily siblings.

To address these critical issues, educators are invited to participate in the Shifting Gears education pilot, beginning Term 3 this year. This program is free to participate in, available to schools nationwide, and aims to equip school teachers with the necessary tools and knowledge to integrate the intervention program into their agricultural curriculum.

A webinar, led by experts from the National Centre for Farmer Health, will be held on 22nd June from 12:30 – 1:30pm. The webinar will emphasise the significance of incorporating health and safety conversations into teaching practices. Teachers and school representatives interested in the program are encouraged to register on the National Centre for Farmer Health website to explore this exciting resource and become catalysts for positive change in farm safety practices.

To engage students effectively, the National Centre for Farmer Health has created unique farm safety audiovisual (AV) materials and digital animations, together with teacher resources and activities for students that capture the essence of the Australian farming experience. These documentary-style AVs connect safety concepts with human health, offering a meaningful and relatable approach for both students and teachers. In addition, digital animations have been designed to convey farm safety theories through a creative and engaging medium.

Recognising the importance of classroom support, Shifting Gears offers teachers a range of resources, including health and safety statistics, discussion topics, and activities. These materials are aligned with the AVs, streamlining lesson planning and content sourcing for educators.

“This is an exciting opportunity for educators to enhance their agricultural and safety expertise,” says Dr. Alison Kennedy, Director of the National Centre for Farmer Health. “By joining us in the Shifting Gears pilot program, educators can play a vital role in cultivating a culture of safety in the farming community.”

Event registration link: 
Shifting Gears Pilot Page: Shifting Gears | National Centre for Farmer Health


For media enquiries or interview requests, please contact:
Annabelle Macgugan
Marketing Coordinator
About the National Centre for Farmer Health: The National Centre for Farmer Health is dedicated to improving the health, safety, and wellbeing of farmers, farmworkers, and their families across Australia. Through research, education, and advocacy, the centre addresses the unique health challenges faced by those working in agriculture and promotes sustainable farming practices.

Note to editors: High-resolution images and additional information about Shifting Gears are available upon request.