Save a life, listen to your wife - that’ s the message from a new global health and safety movement for rural women being launched in New Zealand.
Safer Farms has partnered with Australia’ s Alex Thomas to bring The # PlantASeedForSafety Proj ect across the ditch.
The #PlantASeedForSafety Project works by profiling women from all parts of rural communities who are making positive and practical health and safety changes - from farm owners, shepherds, workers, wives and partners, to nurses, doctors and teachers, agricultural contractors, shearing contractors and even the local barista - as every person living in a rural community contributes to the health, safety and wellbeing of those around them.
It aims to boost women's confidence in their ability to infuence their partner, children and workers and to inspire others to make safer, healthier choices.
As the founder of the proj ect, Alex says it’ s a dream come true to launch in New Zealand and is inspired by the remarkable women who have already signed up.
“Everybody knows someone who’ s been hurt at work in rural industries, and yet the current focus on paperwork and ‘ box- ticking’ is detracting us from talking about the sorts of things we do on a day- to- day basis that prevent people from getting hurt,” she says.
“We need to talk much, much less about paperwork and much, much more about the things that could actually save a life.”
The # PlantASeedForSafety Proj ect already has many inspiring Kiwi women on board, including Will To Live’ s Elle Perriam, Sarah’ s Country host Sarah Perriam, Proud To Be A Farmer’s Claire Inkson, Safer Farms’ Harriet Bremner, Mairi Whittle, Social License Consulting’ s Penny Johns, Bee Fit’ s Belinda McCone and many more.
The women’s stories are uploaded to the # PlantASeedForSafety website and will then be promoted across social media to share with others.
Agriculture records the highest number of deaths in all industries in New Zealand, with close to 20 people being killed in work- related incidents alone, while many others are seriously inj ured.
Alex firmly believes rural women who are prepared to # PlantASeedForSafety can save lives.
“Rural women are the experts in their partners, their businesses and their communities, and they are often the closest other person in proximity to the work,” she says.
“ # PlantASeedForSafety is a celebration of their contribution to rural industries, as well as an acknowledgement of just how infuential they can be in making practical improvements to health and safety.”
As Safer Farms’ health and safety campaigner, Harriet says she wanted to be part of the movement because she knows what it’ s like to lose someone she loves on the farm.
“I also know how much women care about the people they love staying safe while they work and I also know that storytelling is the most powerful form of learning,” she says.
“We want to change the stigma of ‘ box- ticking’ when it comes to health and safety, and get rid of the ‘it’ll never happen to me’ attitude many of our kiwi farmers currently have.
“An accident or fatality can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of how experienced they are. This is about planting a seed for safety, to get people home to their families at the end of every day.”
Alex has won multiple awards for her work with # PlantASeedForSafety, including the 2018 AgriFuturesTM Rural Women’s Award (SA) and the 2018 SafeWork SA Augusta Zadow Award.
“The project is a legacy to my mum, my dad, our industry and our way of life,” Alex says.
“As a part- time carer for my father who is now permanently disabled as a result of his life’ s work in agriculture, The # PlantASeedForSafety Project was born from the acknowledgement that no amount of safety paperwork would have infuenced him to make safer, healthier choices."
“30 years ago, nobody wore seatbelts, and today we do it without even thinking about it. By raising the voices of rural women and increasing their confidence in their ability to infuence change, I believe we can inspire more people to make safer, healthier choices.”
The more women who take part, the bigger the impact this project will have on saving lives.
Visit the website www.plantaseedforsafety.com to read or share your own stories.