Farming is a great way of life - let's make it a safe one

Farming is a great way of life - let's make it a safe one

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The importance of National Farm Safety Week in raising public awareness of the issue can't be over-stated.

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There's no doubt that farming, one of Australia's most important industries, is also one of its most dangerous.

Big open spaces, big animals, big machinery, big workloads.

In the past 18 months, more than 200 Australians have died in farming accidents, tearing apart families and communities - one in six are kids under five years old.

This goes beyond tragic; it's horrifying. But the most horrifying aspect is that it's so readily accepted by many as "just a part of life on the land".

It doesn't have to be and it shouldn't be. Imagine how quickly and decisively governments would act if these fatality rates were occurring in city offices or Brisbane's childcare centres.

And for every needless death, many more people are left with lifelong debilitation due to non-fatal accidents and diseases like Q fever, for example.

Although significant inroads have been made to improve farm safety in recent years, it has not been enough.

One issue is that government's 'answer' seems to be mandating legislative solutions without asking producers whether or not they will work.

This isn't malicious - in fact it is very well-intentioned. But it is yet another example of government trying to act in the interests of a group without actually listening to them.

We need to be driving these conversations; on the line are our lives, and those of family, friends, and employees.

The importance of National Farm Safety Week in raising public awareness of the issue can't be over-stated.

I also welcome FarmSafe Australia's Safer Farms report that highlights, in particular, two factors that make it difficult to effectively address farm safety. The first is a lack of work-life balance - the farm is also the family home - and the second is that 'clocking off' isn't always an option.

In short - being a farmer is more than just a job, it's a way of life. Please let's try to make it a SAFE way of life.

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