Pathways, Education, Training and Skills (PETS) for Rural Victoria
Recognising your healthy body systems – the Sustainable Farm Families approach
Farmers and agricultural workers have met at RIST to undertake the pilot of material, created by the National Centre for Farmer Health, to make health units at VET level more relevant for the farm environment.
The unit Recognise healthy body systems in a health care context was run over two days and included a health check, hearing test, supermarket tour, information about preventative health strategies and OH&S advice.
Workforce Project Officer, Tim Harwood, says that the course sits comfortably with a foot in both camps. “Farmers can learn a bit about how their body works in order to understand the damage that they are doing to themselves by not putting on sunscreen, not eating right and not exercising enough.”
“By explaining how the digestive system works, showing them their BGL (Blood Glucose Level) and cholesterol and then taking them to a supermarket and doing an exercise on how to read the nutritional information on food labels, you’re going through the whole lot. If you have high BGL then low fat foods, which compensate with sugar, might not be best for you. It might be best to go for the full fat option and just take care of your portion control.”
Farmer Mark Bryant found the course very rewarding. “Many of my peers have weight issues,” he says “(courses like this) could be the key”.
Statistics show that farmers and agricultural workers have higher rates of workplace accidents, obesity and poorer outcomes when suffering from conditions such as heart disease and cancer than those living in urban areas. Through education at various levels the National Centre for Farmer health seeks to redress this imbalance.
“It is very exciting to be expanding the program into the VET sector. Many workers in the farm industry gain a lot from their studies with institutions such as RIST and we are delighted to be adding another string to their bow” Tim says.
Department of Health – Workforce Innovation Grant
The Victorian Department of Health under its Workforce Innovation Grant program (WIGP) 2010 -2011 was developed to explore, identify and trial (where appropriate) innovations that improve the utility of the health workforce, while maintain and improving quality outcomes, efficiency and worker satisfaction. Under this initiative eight projects were funded to ‘improve the delivery of chronic disease management’, two projects looking at ‘pathways into health and community services’ and five projects were funded for ‘access to healthcare in non acute settings’ which included the PETS project.
The National Centre for Farmer Health will develop and implement Pathways, Education, Training and Skills (PETS) for Rural Victoria. The project builds on the highly successful Sustainable Farm Families™ (SFF) program, which has been developed to bring better health, wellbeing and safety to farm men and women and their families. The project will undertake a scoping and mapping exercise between the SFF training materials and existing units of competency available in the health, community services and agricultural training packages. This mapping will identify opportunities for units or skill sets to be developed and imported across existing qualifications. The mapping process will also explore and identify the training gaps in the rural health area and will seek to develop accredited units of competency and/or courses with articulated pathways into the health, community services and agriculture training packages, and higher education to meet this demand.
This project is an initiative of the National Centre for Farmer Health, funded by the Victorian Department of Health and delivered in partnership with Rural Industries Skills Training (RIST) http://www.rist.com.au
PETS update New
The PETS project is well under way, with initial scoping and mapping undertaken between SFF training material and existing units of competency available in the health, community services and agricultural training packages. Articulated pathways into these training packages have been identified and we look forward to trialling some of the new SFF based units. Currently, in partnership with local RTO’s, we are developing course content for implementation in 2012 with the objective of expanding scope of current competencies, giving the VET demographic more options than what is currently available. With the roll out of the new course content, PETS aims to achieve a more cross-sectored trained workforce committed to improving farming men and women’s health. Long term, this innovation hopes to improve the utility of the health workforce, while maintain and improving quality outcomes, efficiency and worker satisfaction.