In 2006, Western District Health Service (WDHS) in collaboration with the Department of Human Services (DHS) provided seeding grants and training for health professionals to deliver the Sustainable Farm Families™’ (SFF) project across Victoria’s rural regions.
Western District Health Service incorporated new and previous SFF training programs to assist health services to apply through the lead agency for funding to implement farm family projects within their own regions. Health services within the five DHS regions were offered seed funding to support the coordination, facilitation and evaluation of the SFF program within their region.
This offer was made available to nurses and health services that had completed or intended to complete a SFF train the trainer program provided by the joint WDHS and DHS funding. Health services within the above regions were also encouraged to link with other health services and agricultural industry to assist in the facilitation of the program.
The funding enabled an initial nine (9) train the trainer programs to be delivered, followed by a further fully funded seven (7) SFF programs across Victoria.
In late 2007, Western District Health Service was successful in attracting further funding over two years to deliver the Sustainable Farm Families program in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries across Victoria.
This investment of significant time and resources developed an action based response to the worsening effects of Victoria’s ongoing drought and associated burdens upon the farming family unit. Together the DPI and WDHS aim to address through the Sustainable Farm Families’ (SFF) program the health, wellbeing and safety of farm families across Victoria’s agricultural regions most influenced by the current climatic conditions.
The program was funded to deliver at 50 locations (1,000 farmers) from 2007 until 2009.
Victorian program partners
Two separate programs were run in Victoria and credit must be directed to the funding agencies for their support in the improvement of farm family health, wellbeing and safety:
- Department of Human Services and Health Agency partnerships – Nine (9) Programs (2006 – 2009)
- Department of Human Services – Seven (7) Programs (2007 – 2009)
- Department of Primary Industries – Fifty (50) Programs (2008 – 2010)
Recruiting to the SFF Program
‘My first introduction to the Sustainable Farm Families Program as a newly elected Yarrawonga VFF secretary was at the Victorian Farmer’s Federation District Council Meeting in Katamatite on April 16th, 2007. Sue Crowther, from the Yarrawonga Community Health Centre, was our guest speaker. She explained the aims and benefits of the SFF initiative very enthusiastically and convincingly to us and then asked our organisation to find 20 family farm individuals who would be willing to participate in this Program over a 3 year period.
‘As branch secretary, our President turned to me and said, ‘You’ll take care of this, won’t you?’ From that moment on my life was to change irrevocably! By April 22nd, with only 3 months of recruitment opportunities remaining, I began approaching individuals and couples at a family Christening! From then I continued up until the evening before the actual Program began on August 20th .I either contacted in person or by telephone anyone and everyone I could think of who would be interested in this Program to the total of over 80 individuals. If they appeared “remotely” interested I asked them if I could send them an Invitation.
‘It was from the outset my aim to recruit individuals both from within and outside the VFF organisation from a representative cross-section of the farming family community with regard to age, gender, and type of farming operation: (Dryland/irrigation, cropping/livestock). I felt that for each individual who would “sign up” for this Program, the ripple effect of their gained knowledge would not only benefit them individually, but would reverberate and educate everyone with whom they would come in contact. I was very happy to work towards this Program. I felt it was time well spent.
‘I really admire and respect our community farming families. They are strong, courageous and resourceful individuals within their family farms and it gave me an opportunity to work towards a Program that I hope will help them and their loved ones throughout their lives by providing them with the knowledge and tools with which they can improve both their health and farm productivity and sustainability.’
-Helene Ryan : September 19, 2007 –