School students in SA will be given increased access to education about agricultural safety.
A new initiative from Grain Producers Australia, backed by federal government funding, will deliver the GPA Agricultural Safety Training project, providing access to online courses.
GPA chief executive Colin Bettles said farm safety was a high priority for GPA members and it was great to see education opportunities delivered to the next generation, via digital programs.
"No matter what role you play on the farm, the importance of farm safety can never be underestimated or taken for granted," he said.
GPA southern director and SA farmer Mark Schilling said the new project demonstrated the online GPA Training platform's value in boosting farm safety outcomes, with targeted training programs.
"This project with school students adds to the work we're already doing for growers to collaborate across the industry and lift safety standards," he said.
"We're doing this with online grain delivery site inductions and other courses, including stewardship training, so growers can access the right information on the correct application of pesticides to ensure they're safe and effective."
The Port Pirie Industry Training Hub, covering the Barossa, Yorke and Mid North regions, is funding the roll-out of GPA Training's virtual training platform to a range of senior secondary agriculture students.
Hub career facilitator Robin O'Dea said they wanted to work with key school staff and encourage young people to build skills and choose occupations in demand in their region, create better linkages between schools and local industry, and reposition vocational education and training as a first-choice option.
Mr O'Dea said students would become familiar with key safety practices and work through risk assessment scenarios that provided a thorough preparation for those wanting to work in the grains and farming sector.
Agricultural Teachers Association of SA curriculum development manager and immediate past president Sue Pratt said the association strongly supported adoption of the GPA Training online program in schools.
She said the Australian Curriculum and South Australian Certificate of Education included strong programs in agriculture with key features addressing the role of technology, innovation and industry best practice.
She said all agriculture programs included practical and theoretical instruction in farm safety and teachers are keen to ensure their students are accessing accurate and industry-relevant content.
"Teachers who have used the GPA Training online training modules have reported that they complement and strengthen existing programs, are easy to use, highly relevant and engaging for their students," she said.
"They have also observed that students demonstrated a more positive attitude to the WHS content and "took it more seriously" because it is the same training that farmers use and has obvious and explicit industry links.
"In addition, with many students currently learning at home due to COVID restrictions, the online modules are easily accessed and enable students to continue with a meaningful and productive activity.
"Agriculture teachers have challenging roles as they manage their teaching commitment as well as the physical resources of school farms, all within very limited budgets.
"As such, finding an industry-based resource that is ready to go, delivers positive outcomes and is fully funded is highly valued and much appreciated.
"Having a subsidised program removes the financial barrier that may stop many schools from adopting this training."
The project will provide training to the students from April through to December, providing access to the following courses on topics such as workplace safety for farm managers, fire safety and preparedness, grain site delivery industry and more.
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