New safety programs for Victorian students aim to make farms safer for children and young people.
On Monday - at the beginning of National Farm Safety Week - the state government announced two new programs would be delivered to rural and regional students in an effort to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on farms.
The first program was developed by Kidsafe Victoria and will deliver a farm safety campaign and creative competition in primary schools.
According to research conducted by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), children who live in Victoria's outer regional areas and are aged younger than 15 are four times more likely to die due to an injury than those living in major cities.
Kidsafe Victoria's General Manager, Jason Chambers, said farms were unique environments as they were both an industrial workplace - with big tractors, working machinery, dams and water troughs - as well as a home.
While they can be a great environment for children to grow up in and to explore, they can also present dangers to curious children - drowning is the leading cause of death for children on farms, followed by accidents involving farm equipment and off-road motorbike use.
"Farms are great environments for kids but it's important that things are put in place to help keep them safe," Mr Chambers said.
Farms are great environments for kids but it's important that things are put in place to help keep them safe.Jason Chambers
Kidsafe Victoria was awarded $97,000 to deliver the program, which will be taught by teachers in the classroom or online.
The first part of the three year program will be launched as early as next month.
This year the program will focus on general farm safety including hazards such as machinery, quad bikes, animal safety and poisons, while the following two years will have a particular focus.
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The program involves several learning activities including an interactive component, through which the pupils will develop campaign material - videos, illustrated stories and posters - about hazards and what can be done to keep themselves and their families safe on farms.
It is a type of competition, which will then be used as a campaign to educate the wider community including parents and carers.
Mr Chambers said farm safety, in addition to general safety of children in regional areas, was a priority for Kidsafe.
The program will be launched statewide, so children in metropolitan areas can also participate. Mr Chambers said it was important that all families were educated about potential farm hazards.
"A lot of families will go and visit a farm during the school holidays and those families are sometimes not as aware of all the hazards as much as a farming family who lives and works on the farm," he said.
Meanwhile, the National Centre for Farmer Health will deliver 20 'Gear up for Agriculture Health and Safety' workshops to secondary students with an interest in agriculture.
The centre will receive a $108,500 grant to deliver the workshops, which aims to teach students - the next generation of famers - about safe practices to empower them to positively influence the behaviour of the families and that of future employees.
Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes said increasing education and awareness was crucial to change the culture of safety on farms.
She said Farm Safety Week was a good time to remember we all have a role to play in understanding that farms are workplaces as well as homes and how we all behave on them can have significant consequences for every person who works, lives or visits one.
To find out more about the programs visit the Agriculture Victoria website.
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