There are many obstacles to getting health information to farmers but the Farmer Wants a Healthy Life podcast navigates them well.
During 2020 a project was underway to engage farmers and the farming community to promote a culture that encourages positive help-seeking behaviours. Statistically, farmers have higher rates of skin cancer, noise induced hearing loss, mental illness, suicide and cardiovascular disease, and have worse self-reported mental and general wellbeing outcomes than non-farmers in rural areas. They are significantly less likely to access health services leading to the understanding that farmers do not often consider their health as a priority and many will only participate in preventative health checks during field days, so this project was originally organised as an expo event.
Being 2020, the COVID pandemic forced project organisers to think innovatively about how to continue to engage with the farming community and get information out, which turned out to be a blessing. A steering committee with of a range of stakeholders was brought together virtually and the podcast series Farmer Wants a Healthy Life was created.
The podcast series brings together stories from people that understand the farming life with a story to tell. From new farmers and the old hands, rural community locals, doctors and more. Farmers can listen to the Farmer Wants a Healthy Life podcast at a time that suits them and share stories, experiences, thoughts and ideas with other farmers on Facebook and Twitter.
The podcast is described as, “stories of looking after you, whilst on the farm. The choices you make can change your life; hear it from those that have done it”.
The steering committee brought together local farming and agriculture industry representatives from the Wimmera and Southern Mallee, along with health professionals, which was vital to the success of the podcasts. The industry reps particularly, recognised the need for life experience and storytelling as a key a component of the podcasts and together the group came up with the topics to be covered and suggested potential speakers. Members of the steering committee were brought together again once a couple of the podcast episodes had been developed to share their opinions and listen to the first episode in its entirety. This episode was also distributed to the members of the local Nhill & District Young Farmers group for comment to gain insight into how it would be received.
The 1st series of 8 episodes, launched on 9 June 2021, has been well received with downloads continuing to grow every day. The series has been listened to not only in our region but across Australia and the world. The first series covered topics of zoonotic disease, prostate cancer and mental health including suicide, depression and where to get help. A special edition of Need to Know of COVID-19 has been added, and Series 2 is currently being released with a new episode available every Friday.
The podcast supports and complements other efforts in the region to improve the health and wellbeing of farmers and people living in rural communities, such as farmer health checks and a strong partnership with the National Centre for Farmer Health.
Consultation with your target audience works, think laterally and you too can grow your project and lead it to somewhere you never thought you could.