HEALTH and wellbeing often take a backseat for busy farmers, but Sustainable Farm Families workshops run by Primary Producers SA have bucked the trend by addressing common farming health and safety issues.
The program was introduced last year and proved popular, with 90 per cent of participants returning to a follow-up workshop on the Yorke Peninsula last week.
In the initial workshops, participants completed health assessments to get a baseline of their general health and wellbeing, and received education to implement an action plan.
At Minlaton and Spalding, participants underwent follow-up health checks and received further education on issues like mental health, cancer prevention and early detection, respiratory health, and physical activity.
"We had some great outcomes. There was a decrease in blood glucose levels (a key indicator for diabetes) among several participants," PPSA Healthy Farms adviser Sally Fisher said.
"We had participants who were putting in a consultant to look at their on-farm work, health and safety issues, and put in policies and procedures surrounding that.
"It's certainly an issue that rural health is not as good as urban health.
“We need to be looking at some of these primary prevention issues so that we can avoid people having unnecessary health problems.”
“Farmers often struggle to address some of their own health issues due to their workloads and the distance they have to travel to access services."
National Centre for Farmer Health director Susan Brumby was impressed with the adjustments made in farmwork health and safety by participants, and the improvements in health, particularly blood pressure.
The NCFH helps deliver similar workshops across the country and Ms Brumby said there was a simple reason for their success.
"The shared interest of farming. All the people that come are interested in the productivity and the sustainability of their industry. It's not just health people talking about health," she said.
"The beauty of the Yorke Peninsula Alkaline Soils group is that they will continue to meet about farming, businesses and other things.
“Hopefully because they've all had that shared workshop, health is on the agenda."
Ms Fisher said the PPSA workshops would be the platform for the release of men's health videos, made in collaboration with the Freemasons Centre for Men's Health, in a couple of weeks.
The videos are concise, informative and designed to trigger action among farming groups.
"We are seeking feedback from farming groups who would like to show these films to their members to promote better male health and wellbeing," she said.
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