The National Centre for Farmer Health, located in Hamilton in western Victoria, is facing likely closure after its $1 million annual grant was cut in the recent Victorian State Budget.
National rural health advocate Alison Fairleigh is calling on rural people across Australia to sign a petition calling for the funding to be reinstated.
Ms Fairleigh said the centre provided national leadership to improve the health, safety and well-being of farm men and women, farm workers, their families and communities across Australia.
The NCFH had been instrumental in delivering the Sustainable Farming Families programs during recent droughts and floods, which supported farm communities to remain in farming.
It had also worked on projects to improve the health of farmers – which is generally poorer than the broader community – in areas such as hearing loss.
“2012 is the Australian Year of the Farmer, celebrating the vital role farmers play in feeding, clothing and providing building materials to house us all,” Ms Fairleigh said.
“If farmers really are our future, then we must take care of them by supporting the NCFH to continue their valuable work running programs for farmers, courses for rural doctors and researching farmer health and safety issues.
“Life on the land is increasingly more demanding – physically, emotionally and socially; and in urgent need of people with the skills and the commitment to help correct the imbalance in the health, safety and wellbeing of rural and remote communities.”
A 2010 report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare into the health of men in regional and remote Australia paints an alarming portrait of the mental health of Australian farmers.
The AIHW found that men living outside major cities were 28pc more likely than those living within to have a substance use disorder at some point in their life. Men living outside major cities also had a 33pc higher rate of suicide than their inner city equivalents. According to the National Male Health Policy established by the Department of Health and Ageing in 2010, males aged between 45 and 64 in rural and remote areas are more likely to report depression than those living in major cities.
To view and sign the petition click here