Seminar to help farmers manage change

21 October 2009

Farming communities in south-west Victoria are facing change like never before but could find as many opportunities as threats when they navigate into the future.

That's one of the messages people can hear when Deakin University's School of Health and Social Development hosts a `Helping Farmers Manage Change' seminar at the Warrnambool Campus on Thursday 29 October.

Climate change, government policy and the recent milk price drop are among the challenges facing regional farmers and communities but seminar leader Martin Butler said there were positive opportunities within the perceived threats.

"The best advice is to stay informed and don't wait until a dark cloud comes along before seeking advice," Mr Butler said.

Mr Butler has convened the Australian Association of Social Work's (AASW) Rural Social Workers Action Practice Group for 18 years, served on the Victorian Branch in various executive positions, and has represented the AASW on various Departmental committees. He previously had a long association with Western Victoria, including work at the former Brierly Hospital in Warrnambool and at Terang and Camperdown.

He said the presentation, in Level One, Building H at the Warrnambool Campus as part of DeakinWeek activities, would look at the importance of understanding the challenges facing rural communities, families and individuals to make change in spite of doubts that may confront them.

Mr Butler said rural people were very innovative and new challenges often bred inspiration.

Changes were already happening in the Western District, including the physical and political challenges of climate change and carbon trading, and the recent milk price drop, he added.

"There are more examples of cropping in the area and some instances where people are working off the farm to make money, which brings in identity issues – am I a farmer or not?" Mr Butler said.

"It is very confronting and scary but there are counsellors, agencies and community links for support. People in farming communities should work as a team and keep learning from each other. Out of difficulties and challenges opportunities will emerge."

Mr Butler said attending forums such as the upcoming event at Deakin University was a positive way for people to approach change. "When the opportunity comes along make time to go and learn ways to prepare for your future."

DeakinWeek is an annual event showcasing the best of Deakin University – bright ideas, creative thinking, innovative teaching and cutting-edge research.

The event runs from 6-7.30pm and is free of charge. To RSVP contact:


Media contact

Mandi O’Garretty
Media and Corporate Communications
03 52272776, 0418 361 890
Email Mandi

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