A UNIVERSITY of South Australia researcher has won a prestigious Australian Farmer of the Year award for her work in supporting mental health with an online platform for farmers.
SA Uni researcher, Kate Gunn, received the Excellence in Agricultural Research as part of the Australian Farmer of the Year awards for developing the ifarmwell online resource.
The ifarmwell resource provides free support to help farmers cope with the stress and uncertainty of life on the land.
Dr Gunn also won another national accolade last month – the National LiFE Award for Innovation from Suicide Prevention Australia – for ifarmwell, which has been designed by Australian farmers for farmers. In Australia, farmers are twice as likely more to die from suicide than other employed people.
The platform was developed with 10 years of building on farmers’ strengths, beliefs, and preferences, so that health and wellbeing strategies are meaningful, and more likely be adopted.
Dr Gunn said working with and helping rural communities was close to her heart.
“Having grown up on a farm, I’ve seen first-hand how poor mental health and wellbeing can affect close-knit communities,” Dr Gunn said.
“Living on the land can be wonderful. But it can also be isolating and challenging.”
Dr Gunn said ifarmwell was designed in partnership with farmers to help them build practical strategies that can help them manage life’s ups and downs.
She said farmers were “great practical problem solvers”.
“Through ifarmwell, we’re providing manageable and relatable tools to help farmers increase their ability to cope effectively with the things they cannot control or fix,” Dr Gunn said.
“It is very exciting to me that the importance of farmers’ mental health and wellbeing has been recognised nationally in these ways.
“I also hope that these awards serve as a helpful reminder to farmers that we all need to deliberately invest time in maintaining and improving our own well-being, ifarmwell is freely available to help them do that.”