National Farmer Wellbeing Report

29 March 2023

New research released today paints a saddening picture of the mental health of Australia’s hard-working farmers with close to third (30%) reporting a decline in their mental health over the past few years.

The National Farmer Wellbeing Report, commissioned by Norco – Australia’s oldest and largest 100% farmer owned dairy co-operative – in partnership with the National Farmers’ Federation, has found that in recent years, nearly half of Australian farmers (45%) have felt depressed, with almost two thirds (64%) experiencing anxiety. For one in seven (14%), it’s a frequent experience.

Even more devastating, close to half of Australian farmers (45%) have had thoughts of self-harm or suicide, while close to a third (30%) have attempted self-harm or suicide. Shining a spotlight on a national health crisis needing urgent attention, this data adds to existing bodies of research which found that one farmer commits suicide every 10 days and Australian farmers are twice as likely to commit suicide when compared to the general population.

More than a quarter of farmers (27%) say feelings of loneliness or isolation, combined with limited access to mental health services have had the biggest impact on their mental health over the past five years.

BCCM commends this valuable report commissioned by Norco

BCCM CEO Melina Morrison commented, “As the peak body for farmer-owned co-operatives representing more than 24,000 Aussie farmers across the country, I commend this valuable report commissioned by Norco, Australia’s last remaining 100 per cent farmer owned major dairy processor, in conjunction with the national Farmers Federation.

“Farmers have been helping each other cope with the challenges and uncertainties of farming since settlement by forming co-operative businesses so it’s not surprising to see one of our oldest and most resilient co-operatives, Norco, leading in the space around farmers’ mental health. This report highlights more than ever the importance of a collaborative approach. Not only are our farmers facing the challenges of global export markets and fighting floods and fires, many are also facing mental health problems.

“The leadership displayed by Norco on this issue demonstrates that when you have farmers around the board table thinking about the things that make running family farms difficult in these challenging times, you quickly get to the nub of the problem. We hope the NFF will do more work with farmer co-ops in Australia to support the people who put food on our tables and protect our food security in times of crisis. We need farmers as much as they need our understanding and support. Co-ops like Norco know better than anyone about the hardships faced by our farming families, because they owned and controlled by those same farmers.”

Read more

ABC News: Alarming report on farmer mental health prompts peak body to call for urgent action

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