Protecting workforce wellbeing

Apr 14, 2016

Implementing formal occupational health and safety plans on farm is not just the right thing to do, it can also benefit businesses, guests heard at the Australian Dairy Industry Council’s (ADIC) Business Breakfast in April.

Addressing an audience of dairy farmers, manufacturers and industry leaders at the event themed ‘Protecting what matters: ensuring the health, safety and well-being of our workforce’, an expert panel explored the opportunities for dairy to improve its workforce safety and well-being.

The panel included Dairy Australia’s Program Manager for Industry Workforce Planning and Action, Bill Youl, Worksafe Victoria’s Bruce Gibson, Lion’s Leader for Safety and Well-being Josh Norton, Field Services Manager at Fonterra Robyn Mitchard and Director of the National Centre for Farmer Health, Dr Susan Brumby. Mr Youl observed that, as well as being the right things to do, safeguarding the workforce makes sense for farm profitability.

“A safe work environment will ensure accidents are minimised, productivity is enhanced and the full benefits of farm and manufacturing facilities realised. Our physical and mental well-being is intrinsically linked to our industry’s success,” Mr Youl said.

ADIC Chair, Simone Jolliffe encouraged the industry representatives in the room to take leadership and drive a culture shift to safeguard the sustainability of the industry’s workforce.

“Dairy farms are not typical workplaces. There are many potential risks, and stressful situations – particularly because we are often operating in a family environment, where there is the added pressure of the day-to-day challenges of running a small business,” Mrs Jolliffe said.

“Dairy Australia is already working with state safety regulators and dairy manufacturers to provide farmers with the tools and training they need to operate safely. As an industry we need to work more collaboratively to ensure uptake and implementation, to move the workforce from ‘knowing’ to ‘doing’.”

The Dairy Industry’s Sustainability Framework has set targets for the industry to achieve by 2020. One of the targets is 100% of on-farm and manufacturing workers to have completed Occupational Health & Safety training by 2020. A further target is zero workplace fatalities. Mrs Jolliffe said the industry is falling behind on both accounts.

“Tragically there have already been two confirmed workplace fatalities in our industry this year. Workplace injuries have also risen. Across Australia, one in five people suffering with mental health challenges. This is not acceptable. We need to lead the industry in prioritising health, safety and well-being – for the benefit of our industry.”

The ADIC made a commitment at the breakfast to drive change across the industry through improved collaboration between service providers, processors and industry representative bodies. For information about occupational health, safety and well-being see www.thepeopleindairy.org.au

The expert panel from left to right, Bruce Gibson, Susan Brumby, Josh Norton, John Versteden, Robyn Mitchard and Bill Youl.


 

ADF opposes backpacker tax

Feb 05, 2016

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has joined the National Farmers Federation (NFF) in calling for the Federal Government to halt the proposed backpacker tax.

As part of the 2015 Federal Budget the government announced that from 1 July 2016 all working holiday makers will be taxed at a rate of 32.5 per cent on all income.

ADF President Simone Jolliffe said that dairy farmers rely on backpackers for vital on-farm roles which cannot be filled locally or to complement their existing workforce during peak times.

“The dairy industry is suffering a skilled labour shortage which means that we need overseas workers, such as backpackers, when we cannot find suitable local staff,” Ms Jolliffe said.

“If this tax is brought in as it currently stands, backpackers may choose to travel to other countries such as New Zealand.”

“This would be damaging to the dairy industry, regional communities and the tourism industry, as well as the broader economy.”

Backpackers currently earn, on average, about $15,000 while in Australia, and may be eligible to claim the tax-free threshold.

“ADF believes it is fair and reasonable for backpackers to pay some tax, but 32.5c is excessive,” Ms Jolliffe said.

“We are supporting NFF’s position that 19 per cent, achieved through deactivation of the tax-free threshold, is fairer to both backpackers and the agricultural industry which relies on them.”

We encourage everyone who understands the significant contribution backpackers make to agriculture to support NFF’s campaign by signing an online petition.

To join the petition, go to https://www.change.org/p/australian-government-stop-the-backpacker-tax


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