Sustainable Farm Families™

SFF forced to shut down after decade of unmatched success

Date: 18 June 2013

Sustainable Farm Families™ (SFF) – the award-winning educational and awareness program for Australia’s farming families – is being shut down next month after a decade of outstanding success because there is no funding.

Ironically, as the Australian program disappears, farm groups from around the world are starting to adopt SFF, with a contingent from Canada at the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH) this week to learn all about it.

The final Australian workshops reflect the diverse industry appeal of SFF with vignerons in Victoria’s Alpine Valley, mixed farmers from a LandCare group, croppers and egg producers at the CFA Wooronook and mixed farmers at Cavendish participating the program.

NCFH director clinical associate professor Sue Brumby said it was a tragedy such a vital program would be lost at such an important time in Australian farming.

Associate professor Brumby said despite coming out of a decade of drought, much of rural Australia was still in the recovery process, not helped by global economics, and farmers needed all the support they could get.

“The headlines in rural media tell the story – our farmers are facing some tough challenges in the next few years yet everywhere you turn more and more services are being reduced, or cut, because of funding issues,” she said.

SFF started in 2003 with funding through the Joint Research Venture for Farm Health and Safety, managed by the Rural Industries Development Research Corporation and was an immediate hit with farmers and agricultural industry groups.

Running across a 2-3 year period through their relevant industry organisation, and meeting with them in their local community, it had incredibly high retention rates and acceptance amongst farmers.

Ms Brumby said “It also trained up many rural health professionals, creating a long-term support network for all farmers by teaching these professionals to better engage with farming men and women.”

It was a visionary step for a regional health service, Western District Health Service, based in the Victorian agricultural hub of Hamilton, to develop and deliver a health, wellbeing and safety program for farming families.