Primary Producer Knowledge Network

PROMOTING POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH for Victoria’s Primary Producers

A new network has been created to help prevent mental injury in Victoria’s primary production workplaces.

The Primary Producer Knowledge Network has been developed by the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH)—a partnership between Western District Health Service and Deakin University based in Hamilton, Victoria.

Funded by WorkSafe’s WorkWell Mental Health Improvement Fund, this initiative will collaborate with farmers, fishers and industry partners to develop evidence-based and practical strategies and resources delivered through a website, interactive capacity building program and social media platforms. The Primary Producer Knowledge Network project will be delivered over two years to support and further develop sustainable and systemic improvements in mental health across Victoria’s primary industries.

The evidence-based resources developed by the Primary Producer Knowledge Network project will build practical skills in Victoria’s primary producers and help prevent mental injury in an already vulnerable workforce. Deakin University’s Dr Alison Kennedy, who will lead the project from the National Centre for Farmer Health, said primary producers, including farmers and fishers, are a vulnerable workforce in industries undergoing significant transition, and experience a wide-range of workplace-related mental health challenges. “This exposure stems from an ageing and reducing workforce, rapidly increasing technological demands, exposure to a global marketplace and increasing uncertainty—with links to psychological distress and suicide risk,” Dr Kennedy said.

Western District Health Service chief executive, Rohan Fitzgerald, stressed the importance of involving the community in developing the Network. “If we are to achieve our goal of building healthier communities, we need programs that are tailored to the needs of community members,” Mr Fitzgerald said. “The Primary Producer Knowledge Network will work with a wide range of primary producers from across different farming sectors—including dairy, broadacre cropping, horticulture and livestock production—as well as the commercial fishing sector. This level of involvement will mean that resources developed will be relevant, practical and have the potential to make lasting and meaningful change across a wide range of workplace settings.”

Dr Kennedy said that while promoting good mental health was an important first step in ensuring a healthy, safe and productive workforce; identifying and addressing structural factors at the heart of workplace operations was important for long-term prevention of poor mental health. “While some of these factors might be found across a range of sectors—like the challenges that come with a family run and owned business—others will be specific to certain industries,” she said. “Our primary producers are the best-placed experts to help us identify these challenges and come up with solutions to prevent psychological risk.”

More information about the project is available by contacting Dr Kennedy at the National Centre for Farmer Health via a.kennedy@deakin.edu.au or phoning (03) 5551 8533.

Join our Co-Design Workshops

The Primary Producer Knowledge Network will use an integrated approach to prevent, promote and address mental injury risk. Practical interventions will be tailored to reflect the needs of a range of industry groups and age cohorts. The project will adopt a holistic approach to addressing the work-related factors negatively impacting the mental health, wellbeing and safety of Victoria’s primary producers.

Co-design workshops involve bringing people together to discuss a particular topic to ensure that we design resources that are more engaging and relevant for you. In this project, primary producers and stakeholders will participate in co-design workshops to inform the development of practical resources aimed to address the work-related factors linked to poor mental health (including increasing job control, expanding knowledge of appropriate resources, improving workplace relationships and improving workplace conditions). We are currently seeking attendees for two co-design workshop streams:

  • Workshop stream 1 will include farmers and fishers from a range of industry sectors (including fishing, cropping, dairy, meat and livestock, wool, vineyards, bee-keeping, horticulture, forestry, eggs, etc.). Approximately 10-15 participants will be required to attend up to two workshops.
  • Workshop stream 2 will include industry stakeholders and service providers (including representatives from primary producer industry bodies, health professionals, mental health professionals, rural financial counsellors, agricultural consultants, etc.). Approximately 10-15 participants will be required to attend up to two workshops.

Who are we looking for?

Primary producers (all farming sectors and commercial fishing) and people in roles who support primary producers (health/mental health professionals, industry representatives, consultants, agricultural training organisations, etc.). Selected members will represent a spread of primary production industry sectors, geographic areas of Victoria and age groups.

What’s involved?

Spend 2-3 hours (in the comfort of your home/workplace) contributing to an interactive online session to help develop strategies to prevent poor mental health in primary production workplaces. We need your experience of working as a primary producer – no mental health training/experience necessary.

What do we need you to bring?

Enthusiasm, practical life experience and a desire to improve the mental wellbeing of all primary producers!

We value your time!

Primary producers (and those contributing outside of their paid work roles) will be offered reimbursement for their time, avoiding any additional financial burden.

Apply today

Primary Producer Knowledge Network Co-Design Workshop Nomination Form - PLEASE COMPLETE
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