Thursday, October 5, 2023

Building farm spirit

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Relationships, social support, physical fitness and a sense of belonging are key elements for positive mental health, and being part of a sporting community like the Birchip-Watchem Football, Netball and Hockey Club ticks all these boxes.

In recent weeks the combined clubs have been proactively supporting their players and supporters to take time to learn about mental health protective factors and ways that they can support their mates, on and off the field.

Following the headspace round, the National Centre for Farmer Mental Health also jumped on board and provided funding from its flood recovery program “Building Farm Spirit” for the Birchip- Watchem Football, Netball and Hockey Club to host a fun Thursday night training session, followed by a low-cost pizza and pasta meal in the lead up to the Bulls’ bye.

The junior and senior bodies from the three codes combined to play in a junior and senior Fast Five Netball competition, coordinated by Stacey Hamilton and Kelly Haslam, and an AFL 9s tournament organised by Trevor Ryan and Jarrod Tyler.

There was lots of laughter as players swapped codes and enjoyed the friendly banter alongside or against their partners, siblings and friends.

Following the tournaments, the players and their supporters enjoyed a $5 meal of pasta and pizza in the leisure centre, made and served by a team of volunteers working under the instruction of Joshua Richmond.

Organiser Carling McEvoy addressed the crowd and reminded club members that it is okay to talk about mental health and wellbeing, and it is okay to spend time away from your workplace to invest in your own wellbeing.

A large proportion of Bulls’ players and supporters are connected to farms, and the National Centre for Farmer Health knows how important it is for farmers to spend time away from their farms and to have meaningful connections with other farmers. They speak the same language, they understand the challenges and feel comfortable with one another.

Carling provided information from the National Centre for Farmer Health that shows that optimising your health and wellbeing also optimises your farm’s productivity.

“There is lots of farmer friendly help available nowadays and it is smart to use it,” said Carling.

The National Centre for Farmer Health has great resources on the Building Farm its Spirit website and in its social media campaign, including great advice, tips and tricks and farmer stories about looking after yourself through periods of stress, uncertainty and high workload on the farm. There’s short videos and podcasts as well as stuff to read.

Managing Stress on the Farm booklet is well worth a read and can be found at

Buloke Times 14 June 2023

This article appeared in The Buloke Times, 14 June 2023.


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