Agriculture | May 15, 2024

Community advocacy forces government to return farmer funding

The National Centre for Farmer Health in Hamilton will be able to continue supporting the safety and wellbeing of farmers across the country after the state Labor government was forced to correct its cruel decision to strip the centre’s funding.

Shadow Agriculture Minister and the Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy backed strong advocacy from the centre and farming communities after Labor failed to provide funding for the centre in last week’s 2024-25 State Budget.

This advocacy ultimately led the state government to today announce that it would reverse its decision and provide $900,000 to continue the centre’s operations for another year.

Ms Kealy commended the centre’s team – led by Dr Alison Kennedy – for its activism to ensure farmers, farm workers and their families would not be forced to lose this much-needed resource and its unique and valuable services.

“The funding cut was deeply disappointing not just for the local Hamilton community but for farmers across the state who have been working with the centre for the past decade through its mental health initiatives, the Sustainable Farm Families program, and its many other programs that are vital in connecting farmers with practical support,” she said.

“The cut not only created huge uncertainty for the centre and all those who rely on its services, but was particularly disappointing given agriculture has the highest number of work-related deaths of any industry in Australia. We have already seen a number of on-farm deaths in our state this year.

“Now is not a time to be cutting funding. We need to make sure we are working together to support and educate farmers to put best-practice in place so that they can be safe at work each day, and the National Centre for Farmer Health is critical to achieving this.

“For years Labor have failed to properly fund farm safety initiatives, and it’s our hardworking farmers and their families that are paying the price.

“Programs that actually deliver for people should be the last things the government looks at cutting, because the flow-on effects to our communities and our health system and so significant.

“The reinstatement of funding for the National Centre for Farmer Health is imperative in ensuring the centre can continue its high-quality programs, evidence-based services and research initiatives that support the farming sector in dealing with the increasing health, wellbeing and safety challenges it faces.”

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