About us

History  |  Awards  |  Future plans  |  Funding  |  Advertising Content approval Governance | NCFH team  | Boards  | Our partners

Farmer Health is the website for the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH).  The Centre provides national leadership to improve the health, wellbeing and safety of farm men and women, farm workers, their families and communities across Australia.

The Centre is a partnership between Western District Health Service and Deakin University and is based in Hamilton, Victoria.

The Farmer Health website’s key objective is to increase knowledge transfer across the target groups of farmers, rural professionals, academics and students.


The NCFH has been operating since November 2008 and was officially opened by the Victorian Premier on 10 July 2009.

The Centre evolved from two main areas:

  1. The Sustainable Farm Families (SFF) program – a health promotion program which addresses farmer health, wellbeing and safety issues. The core message of SFF is that the most important aspect of a healthy Australian farm is a healthy farm family.
  2. A Victorian Travelling Fellowship which examined overseas models for working with agricultural populations and provided the five key strategic areas which have been adopted by the NCFH.

Awards and recognition

  • 2016 Sustainable Farm Families™ program recognised as an example of best practice – Victorian Workplace Mental Wellbeing Collaboration View article detail »
  • 2014 Vice Chancellors award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Agricultural Health and Medicine – Deakin University
  • 2014 Best Presentation at the 2014 GSSA Annual Conference  – Grasslands Society of Southern Australia Inc
  • 2011 Victorian Public Healthcare Awards
    Highly Commended – Health Leader’s Awards. Developing a capable and engaged workforce
    National Centre for Farmer Health, Western District Health Service and Deakin University
  • 2009 APEN Award for Excellence in Extension Network
    Award for extension for excellence in Extension 2009
    Certificate of Recognition awarded to Western District Health Service, Hamilton Victoria for Sustainable Farm Families Program
  • 2007 Victorian Healthcare Association
    Western District Health Services:
    Winner for Initiative in population health for their project: Sustainable Farm Families
  • 2007 Victorian Public Healthcare Awards – Highly commended
    Category 8: excellence in health promotion and prevention
    Sustainable Farm Families – raising the bar, Western District Health Service
    View article detail »
  • 2006 Public Health Awards
    Public Health Programs
    Winner for Excellence: Sustainable Farm Families Project, Western District Health Service
  • Victorian Awards2005 Awards for Innovation and Excellence in Primary Health Care
    Health Promotion category:
    Sustainable Farm Families – the human resource in the triple bottom line,Western District Health Service, Hamilton
    Awarded by Primary and Community Health Network
  • 2005 Powercor Business Achievement Award
    Business Innovation: Western District Health Service, Sustainable Farm Families
  • 2005 Victorian Public Healthcare Awards
    Category 2b: Excellence in consumer involvement in their own care
    Sustainable Farm Families: The human resource in the triple bottom line, Western District Health Service
    View article details »

Future plans

The National Centre for Farmer Health will continue to build on the industry-service-government-academic partnerships developed initially through the Sustainable Farm Families program. The Centre will address the health, safety and wellbeing issues associated with farming and develop timely, appropriate and effective interventions.

The National Centre for Farmer Health will bring together university research, service delivery, government and education by focusing on these five key areas:

  • Professional training and education – providing undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing education for health professionals, including GPs, nurses, allied health practitioners, vets, agronomists and associated primary industry personnel.
  • Applied research and development ¬– expanding the evidence base for effective interventions to improve farm and agricultural workers’ health.
  • Web based information and services – increasing knowledge and understanding by providing links to quality information and in future by providing e-learning and telemedicine services.
  • AgriSafe clinics – introducing innovative occupational health and safety services to farm and agricultural workers.
  • Sustainable Farm Families programs – maintaining the farmer health programs with an increasing emphasis on the dissemination of research results from the programs.


The National Centre for Farmer Health is a non-profit organisation, funded through the Victorian government’s Future Farming Strategy and the Helen and Geoff Handbury Trust. The Centre has successfully applied for a number of research grants for specific projects.

The Centre also accepts commercial sponsorship in some instances, for example:

  • To allow us to provide low cost events like conferences

The National Centre for Farmer Health does accept occasional commercial sponsorship for research or service delivery purposes, however is governed by a strict conflict of interest policy through Western District Health Service.

All funds generated by the National Centre for Farmer Health, for example from the Safety shop or from providing educational services, are used to support further research.


Farmer Health does not host commercial advertising, however the Centre does accept commercial sponsorship in some instances. When sponsorship funding is accepted it does not influence the Centre’s research protocols or outcomes. Sponsorship information is displayed separately from clinical information.

Content writing and approval

Medical and health information on Farmer Health aims to provide summary information which is specifically targeted to the needs of farmers. Each topic page also provides researched links to further information which may also be of interest to health workers and researchers.
Health and safety  topic content on the Farmer Health website goes through a multi-step QA process:

  • Initial research for content on the site is conducted by a qualified health researcher
  • Content is written and further research is conducted by an experienced medical writer and editor.
  • Content is checked by NCFH Lecturer, Dr Jacquie Cotton (see below for bio.)
  • Content is signed off by NCFH Director, Clinical Associate Professor, Susan Brumby (see below for bio.)

The website is also overseen by an Advisory Group; see below under Governance.


The National Centre for Farmer Health is overseen by a Board and each of the five service elements are also guided by an advisory group.  See below under Boards and Advisory Groups.

The Director of the National Centre for Farmer Health, clinical associate professor Susan Brumby, integrates a highly experienced multidisciplinary team of academic, health, social and industry professionals.

Website ownership

While the National Centre for Farmer Health is a partnership between Western District Health Service and Deakin University, the Farmer Health website is owned by Western District Health Service, ABN 47 616 976 917.

Contact us for more information.

Meet the NCFH team

Susan Brumby (view ResearchGate profile »)
PhD, RN. RM., Dip Farm. M’Ment, Grad Dip Women’s Studies, Master Health Management, Certificate IV (Workplace training and assessment) MRCNA, ACHSE, ARLF

Prior to commencing with the NCFH Sue was Director of Community Services at Western District Health Service (WDHS). In this position she oversaw the introduction of new programs and innovative service delivery models resulting in numerous awards for service excellence, consumer involvement and health promotion.

She is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership program, holds a Diploma in Farm Management, completed a Masters in Heath Management in 2004 and has been active in the agricultural and health sector both in a practical sense managing the family property and holding prominent positions in the sector. Sue has received the following awards:

  • 2014 – Vice Chancellors award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Agricultural Health and Medicine from Deakin University.
  • 2013 – Awarded Overseas Study Program to the USA.
  • 2009 – The Victorian Regional Achievement Award for her work in rural health and farmer health. View article details »
  • 2006 – Awarded the Victorian Traveling Health Fellowship to study farmer health and decision making in the USA & UK.
  • 2005 – Rural health professionals award (Barwon SW Region) for her outstanding contribution to the health of the community.

Aziz Rahman (view ResearchGate profile »)
Senior Research Fellow

Dr Rahman is a Public Health Specialist and overseas trained Medical Doctor. He joined NCFH with the experience of working in public health research and programs, both in Australian and overseas settings. He had been working as a Senior Research Fellow at Australian Catholic University for the last four years prior to commencing his role at NCFH.

Dr Rahman completed PhD in Public Health from the University of Adelaide, Master of Public Health (MPH) and Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) from Bangladesh. He is trained on advanced Epidemiology from Australia, Europe and USA.

Dr Rahman’s research track record includes work on behavioural risk factors for prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases, cardiovascular diseases in particular, tobacco research, health promotion, health system research, work with Aboriginal, disadvantaged and rural population. He has experience of managing public health programs in developing countries and engaging multicultural communities to improve health and wellbeing. He is also experienced in teaching public health and epidemiology. He has been supervising higher degree research students and three of his PhD students have already graduated.

As a Senior Research Fellow of NCFH, Dr Rahman will play the key role in offering research leadership, contributing significantly to the research outputs, mentoring research staff and students, promoting research links with collaborators, contributing to relevant programs to improve health and wellbeing of the farmers, and thereby, improving the profile of NCFH.

Aziz has received the following awards:

  • 2015 – Outstanding Cardiovascular Researcher (Emerging Leader Initiative Mentoring scheme): The Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ) Annual Scientific Meeting 2015
    – Travel grant: The Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ)
    – Fellowship to attend 47th Ten Day International Teaching Seminar in Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention: The International Society of Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention (ISCEP)
  • 2014 – Award for Senior Investigator Oral Presentation: The Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery Research Week, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Australia
  • 2013 – Finalist for Charles C. Shepard Science Award
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), USA
    – Award for Senior Investigator Oral Presentation: The Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery Research Week, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Australia
  • 2012 – International Conference Travel Grant: Australian Catholic University, Australia
    – Dean’s Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence: The University of Adelaide, Australia
  • 2011 – The Konrad Jamrozik Student Scholarship: Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) SA Branch, Australia
    – Full scholarship for Certificate Program in Global Tobacco Control: Institute for Global Tobacco Control, Johns Hopkins University, USA
    – Postgraduate Travelling Fellowship: Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Australia
  • 2009 – Adelaide Scholarship International (ASI) for PhD: The University of Adelaide, Australia
  • 2008 – Scholarship for Residential Summer Course in Epidemiology: European Educational Programme on Epidemiology (EEPE), Italy
  • 2006 – Full scholarship for MPH: James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Bangladesh
  • 1994 – Prime Minister Award: For securing a position in the merit list
of top 20 in the country in SSC (Secondary School Certificate) exam: Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Alex Robinson
Ag. Sci. (Melb), Grad Dip App Fin (SIA)

Alex joined the National Centre for Farmer Health in August 2016 to take up a role in Business Development and Industry Engagement. He considers himself privileged to have grown up on a family farm and been equally privileged to have spent most of his working life actively farming.

A recent change in family circumstances has enabled Alex to take up this opportunity with the NCFH. Alex is confident that his farming experience, both good and bad (!), along with his extensive finance industry involvement will suitably equip him as he goes about his core role of promoting the brand of the NCFH as well as constructively engaging with rural industry participants for their much needed support.

His experiences, along with a genuine empathy of the needs and stresses placed on modern farming participants and their families’ places him well to be an advocate for the NCFH and ensure that the critically important work of ‘making a difference to farmers’ lives’ receives the acknowledgement and support it deserves.

Alison Kennedy (view ResearchGate profile »)

Research Fellow (Ripple Effect)
PhD, BBSc (Hons), PostGradDipArts (Criminology)
Alison grew up in Melbourne but has lived in Hamilton for the past 13 years with the most recent nine years spent living on a farming property. She has experience working in a number of areas with direct impact on the health of farm men and women including horticulture and sleep medicine. Alison is passionate about rural life and has chosen this stimulating and beautiful environment to live with her growing family.

Alison joined the NCFH in 2010, initially as a Research Assistant working on the Alcohol Intervention Training Program. In 2015, Alison completed her PhD focusing on understanding the impact that bereavement through external causes (suicide and accidental death) has on adult members of farming families.  Alison is now employed as a Research Fellow through the School of Medicine at Deakin University to work on the Ripple Effect.

Alison has received the following awards:

  • 2013 – American Association of Suicidology ‘Seeking Hope’ Dissertation Grant.

Jacquie Cotton
Lecturer/Researcher Rural Health
PhD – Agriculture

Jacquie joined NCFH in 2012 as Researcher and Lecturer in Rural Health. Graduating from La Trobe University in 2003, she continued on to complete a Doctorate in Agriculture in 2009. Prior to joining the NCFH team, Jacquie has worked as course developer and trainer at Rural Industries Skill Training in Hamilton, and on the teaching and research team at La Trobe University in the Department of Agricultural Sciences, specialising in livestock parasite management in sheep and cattle. Originally a Melbourne girl, Jacquie and her husband have worked with farmers in Hamilton for 5 years and plan to continue to call the area home. Jacquie has a passion for Agriculture, & education and has jumped at the chance to combine the two with farmer health here at NCFH. Jacquie has received the following awards:

  • 2014 – Vice Chancellors award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Agricultural Health and Medicine from Deakin University.

Tam Phillips
RN, AgriSafe™ Clinician

Tam is a Registered Nurse and lives and works with her husband and three children on their grain and sheep farm in Glenthompson – Western Victoria. Her passion for farming and the desire to improve farmer health and the health of the communities they support has inspired her to pursue postgraduate studies in Health Promotion and Agricultural Health and Medicine. Tam works with the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH) to deliver their unique AgriSafe™ program, providing farmers, families & agricultural workers with industry specific health and safety assessment and clinical screening. Other RN responsibilities for Tam include the delivery of Sustainable Farm Families Program and co-ordinating portable delivery of convenient Health & Lifestyle Assessments to agricultural agencies and associations nationwide.

Tracey Hatherell
Program and Data Coordinator
Dip Bus. M’ment, Cert IV Rural Bus.

Tracey joined NCFH in 2009 and worked as Data Coordinator until June 2014 and re-joined the NCFH team in March 2016 as Program and Data Coordinator. Tracey and her husband live and work on their sheep and cropping farm in Western Victoria and in the Wimmera.

Tracey is passionate about the health and wellbeing of our farming communities nationwide and works with the NCFH team to deliver their award winning Sustainable Farm Families™ program, developed to bring better health, wellbeing and safety to our people on the land. People who have already been involved with the program have been able to implement changes on the farm that have potentially life-saving consequences. This drives Tracey to promote all farm families and rural and regional health agencies to be involved. Tracey is also responsible for coordinating data and specific NCFH projects to ensure successful delivery and reporting of service targets are met.

Vanessa Vaughan (view ResearchGate profile »)
Assoc. Lecturer, Rural Health & Medicine
BSc (Hons), PhD

Vanessa joined the National Centre for Farmer Health in 2015, with the move to Hamilton and rural health a return to her roots, having spent many years on stations, communities, and towns in Central Australia, allowing her to pursue her passion for medical education and research focused on regional and rural communities.

Vanessa completed her training at Deakin University in Geelong, with a Bachelor of Science (Forensic Biology, Hons), and has recently completed her Doctor of Philosophy at Deakin’s School of Medicine, working closely with Barwon Health to investigate treatment strategies for muscle atrophy in cancer patients. Vanessa has received several awards for her research, including the 2013 Smart Geelong Network “Early Career Researcher” and “Biomedical Researcher of the Year”.

Vanessa has previously tutored and demonstrated for the Biomedical Science team at Federation University, and recently worked with Open Universities Australia to develop engaging, interactive and relevant biomedical content for students undertaking online study. This experience, combined with growing up in rural and remote settings, provides a unique perspective on the intersection of education and training with agricultural health and medicine, which drives her passion for promoting healthy and sustainable agricultural communities.

Vanessa has received the following awards:

  • 2015 – Faculty Research Development Grant – Deakin University Faculty of Health
  • 2014 – Best Oral Presentation (2nd prize) – Nutrition Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting
  • 2014 – Faculty of Health Higher Degree by Research Publication Award – Deakin University
  • 2013 – Biotechnology and Biomedical Researcher of the Year – Smart Geelong Network
  • 2013 – Early Career Researcher of the Year – Smart Geelong Network
  • 2012 – CASS Foundation, Regional Travel Award – Science Pathways Early-Mid Career Researcher Forum, National Academy of Science, Canberra
  • 2012  New Invesitgator Award – 10th Congress for the International Society for the study of Fatty Acids and Lipids, Vancouver, Canada
  • 2010  Pallative and Supportive Card PhD scholarship – Victorian Cancer Agency
  • 2010 – Bellberry Ltd PhD Support Scholarship
  • 2008 – Cancer Research Vacation Studentship – Cancer Council Victoria

Cecilia Fitzgerald
Executive & Administrative Assistant 

Cecilia has recently joined the team as the Executive & Administrative Assistant to the NCFH Director. A busy wife and mother to two boys, she is also an Ambassador for Gen8r Change and currently sits on the board of management of Combined Preschools of Southern Grampians. She enjoys keeping fit and healthy and loves to spend quality time with her family on the weekend. Cecilia is looking forward to learning about the wonderful work undertaken by the NCFH and to providing excellent support to the Director and the team in achieving our mission.

Samantha Kaspers
Online Communications Coordinator

Samantha joined NCFH in March 2016 as the Online Communications Coordinator. Samantha keeps our website and social media up to date while sharing the vision of Farmer Health both nationally and internationally.  Samantha has own business in web design and understands the local needs of farmers. She also has a strong passion for photography and a history in photo journalism. Originally a Melbourne girl who married a country boy and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

National Centre for Farmer Health Board

Susan Brumby   
National Centre Farmer Health

Brendan Crotty
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health)
Health Medicine Nursing & Behavioural Sciences
Deakin University
Chair Education and Training Advisory Group

Rohan Fitzgerald 
Chief Executive
Western District Health Service

Hugh Macdonald
Board Member, Western District Health Service
Chair Web Hub Advisory Group

Professor Jon Watson
Head of School – Medicine
Deakin University

National Centre for Farmer Health Advisory Group

Nicole Batten
Farmer Representative

Susan Brumby   
National Centre Farmer Health

David Byrd
Farmer Representative

Brendan Crotty
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health)
Health Medicine Nursing & Behavioural Sciences
Deakin University
Chair Education and Training Advisory Group

Rohan Fitzgerald 
Chief Executive
Western District Health Service

Louise Galloway
Assistant Director, Screening and Preventive Health Programs
Department of Health & Human Services

Bruce Gibson
Worksafe Victoria

Rodney Judd
Farmer Representative

Hugh Macdonald
Board Member, Western District Health Service

Julie Simons
Director, Drought Services
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources

Professor Jon Watson
Head of School – Medicine
Deakin University


Web Hub Advisory Group - Retired
Applied Research and Development Advisory Group - Retired
Professional Training and Education Advisory Group - Retired
Sustainable Farm Families Advisory Group - Retired
Agrisafe Advisory Group - Retired

Our partners

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Page updated: 30th May 2016