New collaborative approach to rural health and safety


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AgriFutures Australia is part of a new partnership to improve our rural industry’s health and safety record and will focus on incorporating innovative research and extension.

The partnership, called the Rural Safety and Health Alliance, will invest in practical extension solutions informed by industry input on work, health and safety risks.

Key features of the alliance include setting clear priorities to better target research, development and extension, strengthening industry leadership and developing a ‘shark tank’ funding model, where applicants work together to pitch projects for funding.

AgriFutures Australia Senior Manager, Business Development Jennifer Medway said there is an enormous social, emotional and economic toll to workplace death and injury so the Alliance is focused on giving farmers and fishers the tools to create safer working environments for themselves, their workers and their families.

“Our RDC decided to support this initiative because work health and safety is a hugely important issue for our industry. We need to improve the industry’s track record and leadership in farm safety and we are keen to support projects that will provide practical and effective solutions.

“We know there are so many great opportunities in Australia’s rural industries and that we are currently experiencing a skills shortage, so we cannot let the industry’s work health and safety record be the reason why we don’t see more people coming in to our industry.

“Many other industries have shown a positive association between improved work health and safety and better business outcomes, like productivity, staff retention, and quality. We see a significant positive upside to improving health and safety as well as reducing negative outcomes,” said Ms Medway.

Alliance Chair Patrick Murphy says the initiative will generate new levels of collaboration and best target resources to address what ‘good’ health and safety looks like in theory and in practice.

“Through this partnership, the RDCs are leading in this area and we will be seeking to leverage their funding and leadership to gain support from public and private organisations. From start-ups through to experienced extension providers, we are wanting new, innovative and creative ways to develop practical solutions and eliminate duplication.

“The difference between the Alliance and earlier efforts is the research-focused agenda and its competitive funding model which will generate accountability to ensure RD&E investments deliver a return on value and translate into practical improvements for producers and the entire primary production system,” said Mr Murphy.

The Rural Safety and Health Alliance is seeking registrations of interest from groups or individuals who want to be kept updated as the Alliance is formed, such as from research and extension professionals, industry associations, producers, agricultural workers, government and advocacy groups.

The Rural Safety and Health Alliance is supported jointly by AgriFutures Australia, Australian Eggs, Australian Pork, Australian Wool Innovation, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Dairy Australia, Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, Grains Research & Development Corporation and Meat & Livestock Australia.

More information: To register for updates, or for more information on the Alliance, visit


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