Giving to Deakin: Investing in Education and Innovation

Launch of Centre to improve health and wellbeing of farming communities

The National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH) has been officially launched by Premier John Brumby in Hamilton.

The NCFH is a new health initiative by Deakin University's Medical School and the Western District Health Service with funding support from the Helen and Geoff Handbury Trust and the Victorian Government's Future Farming Strategy.

The Dean of Deakin's Faculty of Health, Medicine, Nursing and Behavioural Sciences, Professor John Catford, said the NCFH is aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of farming communities throughout Australia.

'The Centre complements the work of Deakin University's teaching and research programs in tackling the health needs of rural and regional communities,' Professor Catford said.

'Through the excellent partnership between Western District Health Service and Deakin's new Medical School, the Centre is working on solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of farmers, farm employees and their families across Australia. We are very optimistic that we can make a difference.'

The work of the Centre is focused on five areas:

  1. Professional training and education: providing leadership, support and continuing education programs for GPs, nurses, allied health professionals, vets, agronomists and primary industry staff.
  2. Applied research and development: enhancing and improving the evidence base on cost-effective policies and programs that will improve farmer health, wellbeing and safety
  3. IT information hub: transferring knowledge through web-based information, advisory services and professional networks
  4. AgriSafe programs: introducing innovative occupational health services
  5. Sustainable Farm Families: maintaining and enhancing the Sustainable Farm Families program with an emphasis on increasing outreach to high risk communities.

NCFH director, Clinical Associate Professor Sue Brumby, said the Centre signifies a new era in farmer health.

'Research is showing that the health and wellbeing of people in rural areas, including farming communities, is lower than those living in metropolitan areas. Through the NCFH we will work closely with communities to turn this around,' Associate Professor Brumby said.

'Work undertaken by the NCFH since commencement in January 2009 includes undertaking health assessments of more than 100 dairy farmers, organising Sustainable Farm Families programs for rural communities in every state of Australia, initiating a number of research studies, and commencing the design of new education programs for health professionals.

'The Centre has also got off to a flying start with the appointment of four professional staff and a doctoral research student as well as the establishment of a number of planning committees to ensure the best possible advice is available.'

Deakin University acknowledges the traditional land owners of present campus sites.

6th March 2012