‘We are an asset of the business, we look after all of our other assets, so why not ourselves?’
Building on the initial success and support of the broadacre project, a push was instigated to extend the SFF program to the Victorian Dairy industry. Support and funding was provided to develop the research potential of the SFF program through 10 major dairy regions throughout Victoria and encompassed over 210 dairy farm families. The Sustainable Dairy Farm Families (SDFF) program, as it thus became was delivered to eleven (11) groups of dairy farm families over three years.
The program encompassed an annual workshop, newsletters, industry association involvement, pre and post knowledge surveys, personal action plans and measurements of clinical indicators. The program collected the necessary research data to enable an insight into the relationship between dairy farmer health and dairy farm sustainability. The program has also highlighted the links between health, stress, injury, rural isolation and employment in the dairy industry.
The program was the first Major Community Development Project to receive funding from the Gardiner foundation and it promised to be a very important piece of research for dairy farmers and their families. This particular program identified the need for strong intersectoral collaboration.
Partnerships were developed with Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), LaTrobe University Bendigo, WestVic Dairy, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Colac Area Health Service, United Dairy Farmers of Victoria and the Victorian Farmers Federation.
The Sustainable Dairy Farm Families program ran between 2005 and 2007.
Dairy program partners
Credit must be directed to the following organisations for their support and dedication to the promotion and improvement of Dairy farm family health, wellbeing and safety:
- Gardiner Foundation
- Colac Area Health
- Department of Primary Industries – Victoria
- RMIT University
- United Dairy Farmers of Victoria
- Victorian Farmers Federation
- WestVic Dairy
Excerpt from the Dairy – Devondaler, Murray Goulburn Cooperative Newsletter January 2007:
Young Dominic Pye probably doesn’t appreciate the Sustainable Farm Families workshop that his parents have undertaken. The nine year-old can’t find chocolate biscuits in the cupboard anymore. But for Bessiebelle suppliers, Naomi and John Pye, the three year program has meant fitter bodies and a commitment to health, wellbeing and farm safety.
Since joining the program they’ve come to realise their own health is as much a production input as water, pasture, cow genetics and milk harvesting. The program involved spouses and partners, and if the farm was a family partnership, sometimes other family members as well.
The initial two day workshop involved measuring blood glucose, cholesterol, waist/hip ratio, body mass index as well as blood pressure. Anyone with anything out of the ordinary was given a referral to see their doctor or health professional.
‘But there were no nasty surprises’ said Naomi.
The group visited a supermarket to learn about food ingredients and labelling. The program also included a relaxation exercise.
‘It was one of the most popular elements of the course’ said Naomi. ‘A lot of participants afterward said that was really worthwhile.’
The participants also received education on nutrition, exercise, mental health, sexual health and OHS. Naomi said, ‘For some people that was the first time they’d discussed some things – especially the men. When men get together all they talk about is footy and grain prices and all those important things in life.’
John is a convert, being initially reluctant to devote two precious days to the program. ‘But having completed it I would say it is suitable for many groups, everyone comes away with benefits. Naomi said ‘it was an excellent program’.
Young Dominic, however probably has another opinion as the chocolate biscuits are now a thing of the past!
Publications and reports
Report for the Gardiner Foundation …coming soon
01-01-07 Its important to look after the most important asset on the farm – YOU! – Dairy-Devondaler, Murray Goulburn Co-Op [PDF 674kb] 2006
21-03-06 Turning Victorian farms into health farms – Herald Sun [PDF 597kb] 13-05-06 SW health effort on world show – The Standard [PDF 1.1mb] 13-05-06 73% male farmers overweight study – The Standard [PDF 497kb] 2005
02-08-05 Farmer health in focus – The Northern Times [PDF 863kb] 25-07-05 Farmers keep health in check via program – Country News [PDF 1.1mb] 14-06-05 Time to celebrate – The Star [PDF 1.2mb] 02-06-05 Health fear on the land – The Standard [PDF 761kb] 18-04-05 Good health crucial to working the land – The Colac Herald [PDF 506kb] 16-03-05 Workshops to save lives – The Weekly Times [PDF 665kb] 07-03-05 Health push – Riverine Herald [PDF 529kb] 26-02-05 Farm families project gains $250,000 grant – Hamilton Spectator [PDF 710kb]