#Builiding Farm Spirit: Communities coming together

During tough times, communities often reveal their true strength. For many in our farming communities, 2023 was particularly tough, grappling with a multitude of challenges stemming from floods, climate uncertainty, high workloads, and various setbacks in critical farm operations. But among these challenges, communities rallied together.

When NCFH put out the call to farming communities to get people together, an army of energetic community volunteers stepped up to organise 60 community-driven initiatives, sponsored by the National Centre for Farmer Health through its #BuildingFarmSpirit campaign. The compassion, creativity, goodwill and drive of these remarkable women and men was truly inspiring. Each gathering held its own significance, blending casual discussion, shared experiences and a love of food, music and community spirit to provide a chance for many to get off the farm, encourage social connection and promote wellbeing during a challenging season.

Leaders of these events reported the profound impact of these gatherings, emphasising supportive conversations and friendships had a positive and protective effect on farmer wellbeing whilst strengthening community bonds. All events shared a common theme urging individuals to prioritise self-care and extend support to those around them.

Distinguished speakers like Warren Davies (The Unbreakable Farmer), Brad McEwan (Beyond Blue), Dr Rob Gordon (Psychologist) took the stage to challenge hard-working farmers to talk more openly about how they are coping with adversity and stress, encouraging openness to seek help when needed and to be brave enough to ask for it. The collaboration with NCFH, and various partner agencies like Community Health services, Rural Financial Counselling Services, Shires, and Agriculture Victoria, ensured the availability of essential resources for those who attended.

We invite you to watch our video on Farmer Perspectives (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvLn8Nc-RMk&&t=12s) on Flood Recovery to get a snapshot of some of the important lessons learned by farmers while tackling the challenges of 2023. A collection of podcasts featuring experts on flood recovery, are also available on the #BFS Webpage and can offer further guidance and support to you and your farming community.

What event organisers have said:

“People were glad to be able to have a frank and open conversation about mental health and be offered some advice on supports and tools to help. We really appreciate the funding from National Centre for Farmer Health to create this opportunity for our rural community to come together to learn and discuss mental health, particularly in our remote area where there are so many barriers to not only accessing adequate professional support, but also barriers to social connections and opportunities.”

“This was a fabulous opportunity for our community and was very well received by all that attended.”

“Thank you very much for supporting our community with this opportunity. Farmer mental health is such an overlooked problem, but its ramifications reverberate through rural communities”

Building Farm Spirit was a Flood Recovery program run by NCFH to support farmers’ mental health and wellbeing and was funded by the Victorian State Government through Agriculture Victoria.