Farmer well­be­ing pro­gram ex­tended after suc­cess­ful start

Dairy News Australia - - NEWS - SOUTH AUSTRALIA - RICK BAYNE 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

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 co-or­di­na­tor 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 rye-grass 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 1000 km 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. DairySA’s Chair Michael Con­nor wel­comed the sup­port of the SA Dairy In­dus­try Fund, which will al­low the roles’ pos­i­tive im­pact over the pre­vi­ous 12 months to con­tinue to build. “Whilst this pro­ject was specif­i­cally de­signed to as­sist peo­ple dur­ing chal­leng­ing times, it will also pro­vide them with the op­por­tu­nity to in­crease their skills and re­silience strate­gies in the ar­eas of men­tal health and well­be­ing for the fu­ture,” Mr Con­nor said. Mr Hinge can be con­tacted on 0429 225 144.

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