PPSA project targets healthy living

PPSA project targets healthy living

Life & Style
ON THE PULSE: Primary Producers SA healthy farmers adviser Sally Fisher, Western District Health Service’s Adrian Calvano and Medicare Local’s Jenni Williams and Chris Lacey undertook free health assessments at the South East Field Days last month.

ON THE PULSE: Primary Producers SA healthy farmers adviser Sally Fisher, Western District Health Service’s Adrian Calvano and Medicare Local’s Jenni Williams and Chris Lacey undertook free health assessments at the South East Field Days last month.

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IT has been one year since Primary Producers SA replaced the South Australian Farmers Federation as the peak lobby group for farmers.

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IT has been one year since Primary Producers SA replaced the South Australian Farmers Federation as the peak lobby group for farmers.

CEO Rob Kerin said the organisation had made good strides on a number of its targets since the April changeover.

"Establishing an NRM sub-committee and having an engagement person on board has been a big plus," he said.

"We've also had constant engagement with PIRSA and other government departments.

"As CEO, I've had more than 80 meetings with government departments in the past year.

"There's been a new level of engagement with the departments, which gives us a greater say in the programs the government is running."

One of its major projects is Healthy Farmers, Healthy Futures, which it inherited from SAFF.

Undertaken in collaboration with the National Centre for Farmer Health, and support from Country South SA Medicare Local, the project has an emphasis on preventive health, and working to identify strategies to help agricultural workers operate at full capacity without compromising on their health and safety.

The Healthy Farmers stand was a popular stop at the South East Field Days last month. A team of health professionals provided free health assessments, and an opportunity to register for free eHealth records.

The evaluation covered key indicators - cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure and eyesight.

PPSA Healthy Farmers adviser Sally Fisher said the project was focused on trying to minimise chronic diseases.

"The project came about because of the real importance of looking at health and wellbeing in terms of productivity in the workplace and the huge costs associated with chronic diseases, which are largely preventable in our communities," she said.

"They (chronic diseases) account for 56 per cent of deaths in the working age bracket, and 46pc of lost time at work.

"So, it's quite a burden and we've got to do something to prevent this.

"We need to get the farming community thinking about health and wellbeing, and the broader rural community as well."

Sally says an example of how inactivity can affect physical health is the spike in the number of farmers with deep vein thrombosis in the Mid North during harvest last year.

"One of the major problems is people tend to manage stress with things like alcohol or tobacco, so we're trying to find other ways of effectively dealing with stress," she said.

"We're really interested in looking at environments that support us to be healthy, or not."

While events such as the South East Field Days help spread the word about healthy living - more than 100 farmers undertook a health check in the two days - Sally says the community needs to be involved for the messages to be effective.

"I've started working with farming groups and also visiting workplaces," she said.

"It's really important for farmers to ensure they consider health as an important part of their business.

"I'm looking at things like basic training in healthy practices - tractor exercises - and building capacity within the farming community to promote positive health, wellbeing and physiological outcomes."

* Full report in Stock Journal, April 10, 2014 issue.

The story PPSA project targets healthy living first appeared on Farm Online.

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