Tuesday, 26 September 2017 09:09

Wellbeing program for SA dairy farmers extended

Written by  Rick Bayne
Rick Hinge Rick Hinge

A South Australian program designed to improve the wellbeing of dairy farmers is continuing after a successful pilot.

Rick Hinge has been re-appointed as wellbeing coordinator with DairySA after a 12-month pilot that he says made a positive impact on farmers.

The role to support wellbeing in the South Australia dairy community is funded by DairySA and the SA Dairy Industry Fund.

A fifth generation farmer, Mr Hinge has worked in rural health and drought assistance for the past decade.

He says the wellbeing role has given farming families a way to communicate their needs.

“My first priority is to listen,” he said. “I don’t come with any pre-conceived ideas; just come acceptance of the situation. Most times that creates a situation where people are happy to talk.

“Men prefer to talk one-on-one with someone they trust. Some of the best engagement I’ve had is looking at the ryegrass and the cows, and some of the better outcomes are when husbands and wives or partners sit across the table and I listen to what’s going on.”

Mr Hinge said communication was the biggest issue facing farmers in tough times.

“When things become difficult and we get under pressure, we generally forget to talk or we don’t do it very well. The outcome of that is a lot of extra pressure.”

He says the role is a new way to engage with people if they’re in stressful situations.

Mr Hinge covers the state and drives about 1000km a week. He sees people on referral and “where I see a cow, I call in”.

“My agricultural background has given me the heads-up on what it takes to be a farmer and I understand how traumatising it is when the numbers don’t add up.”

Farmers have a variety of concerns. “One of the most difficult things for any farming family is to not have enough money in the bank to pay bills, though that’s not necessarily the first thing people want to talk about. When you go to listen you hear what’s on the agenda today and my priority is to deal with that.”

“Everyone is different and every situation different. I still come across different responses but overall the little up in price is better than going down and there’s generally a good positive experience when I visit.”

The job has cemented Mr Hinge’s “deep respect” for farmers and their families. “I’m amazed at the resilience of farmers. They have an amazing capacity to keep going when things aren’t great.”

The model used for the welfare connect program has a good success rate, he says.

“When you connect with people, it’s all about trust and rapport and that takes time. I respect DairySA for having the courage to create a new position and keep it going.”

Mr Hinge’s links across the dairy industry create referrals to farmers needing help, and he in turn can refer them to financial counsellors, mental health services and other supports as needed.

“Once you open the communication it often takes the cork out and relieves the pressure,” he added.

More from this category

National Foods closes cheese sites

National Foods will sell its cheese processing plants in South Australia and close its two Victorian plants within three years.  The moves were announced as part of a $132 million investment in Tasmania, aimed at rationalising the company’s cheese making business.

NZ payout drop delivers a 'sobering blow'

NEW ZEALAND dairy farmers will be forced to make more hard decisions in the season ahead, as the country’s processors slash their forecast farm gate milk prices to well below the cost of production.

Milk processors want you

International demand and expansion in local processing facilities has fuelled renewed competition between Australian processors for southern milk supply.

Scramble for precious water in WA

SOME 2200 megalitres of water might seem only a drop in the ocean for flood weary farmers in northern and eastern Australia but in the drought-stricken west every bit of a new allocation will be precious.

Progression plan a work in progress

Unfortunately, many families can't broach the topic of succession planning at the kitchen table, so it was refreshing to hear WA farmer Peter Evans discussing his family's approach in front of 200 people.

Floods bring New Year chaos to northern dairy industry

THE QUEENSLAND dairy industry is starting 2011 in chaos, swamped by New Year floods engulfing the State.The big wet which drenched Central Queensland in December moved to the southeast corner of the State with devastating impact in the second week of January.

PRIME MINISTER Julia Gillard is deliberately misleading Australians by claiming she wants to keep the Murray-Darling reform process on time, according to Coalition Murray-Darling Basin spokesman Senator Simon Birmingham.

 

MURRAY GOULBURN has taken up all of its rights in takeover target Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory’s (WCBF) $48 million entitlement offer.

 

THE HEAD of one of the world’s largest dairy cooperative wants the industry to do more to promote the goodness of dairy.

MURRAY GOULBURN has increased its prices by 35c/kg for protein and 14c/kg for butterfat – or $5.25/kg for milksolids – backdated to July 1.

ALTHOUGH AREAS of northern Victoria may remain under water for months, the amount of damage wreaked by the state’s floods is slowly being assessed.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.\nBasic HTML code is allowed.

» Get social

When butter and chocolate collide

TWO New Zealand companies Lewis Road Creamery and Whittakers have teamed up to deliver what must be every dairy lover’s dream: chocolate butter.

» E-Newsletter

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required