HEALTH and wellbeing was the theme of the CSBP luncheon at the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days last Wednesday.
The lunch commenced with WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh launching the SafeAgWA campaign, which aims to maintain and promote the health and safety of agricultural workers and their families.
Over the past decade, almost two thirds of workplace deaths in Western Australia were in regional areas, despite the population being less than a quarter of the State's total.
While not all regional deaths were within agriculture, the industry is still over represented as one third of regional workplace deaths were agricultural workers.
Many of these also occurred in the Wheatbelt.
While close-knit communities often adds to the appeal of living in the regions, the emotional impact of a death or serious injury can be intensified in the country due to the close links between family, friends, colleagues and the community.
"We have to remember that when it comes to farms, what are children's play spaces and farmers' workplaces," Mr Kavanagh said.
"It is especially pleasing that industry has recognised the importance of health and safety in agriculture enough to raise funds to promote this campaign."
The campaign will use the means of a competition to communicate to primary and high school students.
Entrants can submit a poster (primary school) or a photo (high school) of agricultural safety in action.
The entries will showcase WA agricultural images or drawings with the theme of saving lives in our industry every day.
The safety campaign will also be reinforced via social media through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Mental health, an issue that is known to have a major impact on people living in regional areas, mostly due to isolation, was the focus for a number of speakers.
Owen Catto, from the Regional Men's Health Initiative, spoke about understanding men's mental health and wellbeing, encouraging them to open up more.
While majority of the audience was female, Mr Catto said it is men's mental health is still an important issue for women as they are one of the most important conduits for men seeking help.
Kendall Whyte, from The Blue Tree Project, shared how a family tragedy, with the death of her brother Jayden, has turned into a story of hope.
What began as a joke on Jayden's part by painting an old tree blue, is now a movement the remembers other loved ones who have or are suffering from mental illness.
Blue trees also work as being a reminder for people to consider their mental health, ask how their friends and loved ones are feeling and talk openly about their emotions.
Former Fremantle Dockers player, now a farmer at Darkan and Lifeline ambassador Paul Duffield, spoke about his mental health journey throughout his sporting career and embracing the return of quiet country life on the land.
The lunch concluded with the launch of the first season of Visible Farmer, a documentary series which tells the stories of 15 Western Australian female farmers in six-minute films.
The series commenced with episode one with Debbie Dowden, from Challa station in the Mid West, sharing her day-to-day work as a cattle farmer and station owner.
Visible Farmer is about changing the perception of a farmer from being just a man and women on the land challenging the image of women being represented as a farmer's wife, but being seen as a farmer, who do half the work as their male counterparts.
Five of the 15 women featured in the series attended the lunch and talked about the filming process.
Ms Dowden attended the lunch and while she laughed at seeing herself on screen, she acknowledged the importance of shining a light on the work women do in agriculture.
"When I was asked to be a part of this documentary, I immediately said what an incredibly important documentary this is, to not only capture what women have been doing but to validate what we do on the land," she said.
"There have been so many years when women have never been acknowledged as farmers, yet we work alongside the men, work just as hard, we do the tough jobs out there and we hold the family together, and in a lot of sense we hold the community together, yet we are quite content to be in the shadows.
"But when this opportunity came along, I decided I need to step out from behind my husband and show what we do and how vital our job is on the land and how the industry of agriculture could not survive without the contribution of women.
"It's really important that it's acknowledged and I am really proud to be part of the project."