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New Health, Safety and Wellbeing Movement for Rural Women

New Health, Safety and Wellbeing Movement for Rural Women Launches in New Zealand with Industry Wide Support

Save a life, listen to your wife - that’s the message of a new health and safety movement for rural women being launched in New Zealand today.

Safer Farms has partnered with Australia’s Alex Thomas to bring The #PlantASeedForSafety Project across the ditch.

The #PlantASeedForSafety Project profiles women from all parts of rural industries and communities who are making positive and practical improvements to the health, safety and wellbeing of those around them. From farm owners, shepherds, wives and partners, to nurses, doctors, teachers and even the local barista – every person living rurally has an impact on their community.

The project aims to raise the voices of rural women and boost their confidence in their ability to influence change and to inspire others to make safer, healthier choices.

“Farm safety encompasses more than just the safe handling of chemicals or animals, or safety on quad bikes or tractors – it’s also about having strategies to deal with stress and having the right conversations to ensure the safety of children, or other more vulnerable men and women on the farm and in the community,” says Safer Farms General Manager, Tony Watson.

“If someone has found a better, safer way of doing something on the farm or in their community, that’s the story the project aims to tell.”

Agriculture records the second highest number of deaths in all industries in New Zealand, with 23 people killed in work related incidents from April 2019 to March 2020.

Founder of the project, Alex Thomas says it’s a dream come true to launch in New Zealand and is inspired by the remarkable women who have already signed up.

“Everybody knows someone who’s been hurt at work in rural industries, and yet the current focus on paperwork and ‘box-ticking’ is detracting us from talking about the sorts of things we do on a day to day basis that prevent people from getting hurt,” she says.

“We need to talk much, much less about paperwork and much, much more about the things that could actually save a life.”

The #PlantASeedForSafety project already has many inspiring Kiwi women on board, including Will To Live’s Elle Perriam, rural nurse Mischa Clouston, Sarah’s Country host Sarah Perriam, Proud To Be A Farmer’s Claire Inkson, Safer Farms’ Harriet Bremner, Mairi Whittle, Social License Consulting’s Penny Johns and many more.

The Project also has industry wide support from agricultural organisations across the country, including Rural Women NZ, WorkSafe, Dairy Women’s Network, the Rural Support Trust, Farm Source, Pamu, LIC and many more.

Women submit their stories to be uploaded to the #PlantASeedForSafety website, where visitors can find positive and practical solutions to improving health, safety and wellbeing on the farm and in communities.

Safer Farms’ health and safety advocate, Harriet Bremner is proud to be part of the movement,

“I’ve had to live through the tragedy of losing a loved one in a farming accident,” she says.

“I know first-hand how much women care about the people they love staying safe while they work. We want to change the stigma of putting health and safety in a box when it should be about putting people first and keeping the ones you love alive.”

Bremner is also hoping to change the ‘she’ll be right’ and ‘it’ll never happen to me’ attitudes many kiwi farmers currently have.

“An accident or fatality can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of how experienced they are. This is about planting a seed for safety, to get people home to their families at the end of every day.”

Alex Thomas has won multiple awards for her work with #PlantASeedForSafety, including the 2018 AgriFuturesTM Rural Women’s Award (SA) and the 2018 SafeWork SA Augusta Zadow Award.

Thomas firmly believes that rural women who are prepared to #PlantASeedForSafety can save lives.

“Rural women are the experts in their partners, their businesses and their communities, and they are often the closest other person in proximity to the work,” she says.

“#PlantASeedForSafety is a celebration of their contribution to rural industries and communities, as well as an acknowledgement of just how influential they can be in making practical improvements to health and safety.”

Thomas started the project as a legacy to her mum, dad, their industry and the rural way of life.

“As a part-time carer for my father who is now permanently disabled as a result of his life’s work in agriculture, The #PlantASeedForSafety Project was born from the acknowledgement that no amount of safety paperwork would have influenced him to make safer, healthier choices.”

“30 years ago nobody wore seatbelts, and today we do it without even thinking about it. By raising the voices of rural women and increasing their confidence in their ability to influence change, I believe we can inspire more people to make safer, healthier choices.”

Safer Farms hopes the more women who take part, the bigger of an impact this project will have on saving lives.

Visit the website to read or share your own stories.

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