Kidsafe Victoria is urging parents and carers on farms to take urgent action and set up safe play areas, in a bid to reduce the number of unintentional childhood injuries and deaths.
The call comes as statistics from the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU) reveal that in 2020-21, 441 children aged 0-14 years were treated in hospital as a result of a farm related injury – more than 8 children per week. Alarmingly, this is a 12% increase on the previous year and the largest number since 2018/19.
Jason Chambers, General Manager of Kidsafe Victoria, highlighted that farms typically combine the family home and an industrial workplace, which means children can be exposed to a wide range of hazards that aren’t present in urban home environments.
“Common injury hazards for children on farms include vehicles (e.g. tractors, motorbikes and quad bikes), animals, water hazards (e.g. dams, rivers, creeks and animal drinking troughs), machinery and poisons”, said Mr Chambers.
While one of the most effective ways families can restrict children’s access to these hazards is to create a securely fenced safe play area, recent research undertaken by the National Centre for Farmer Health has revealed that not all farms have a secure fence around the farm house or garden.
“Almost half (48%) of parents surveyed did not have a fence around their farm house or garden to keep children separated from hazards, while a further 20% reported that they had a fence however this wasn’t fully enclosed or secure”, said Jessie Adams, Research Assistant/PhD Candidate at the National Centre for Farmer Health.
The research also revealed a number of barriers to parents and carers implementing safety measures on farms.
“Over half (52%) of parents surveyed believe there are not enough resources to educate them on what they need to do.”
Lisa comes from a long-time farming family who enjoy the lifestyle and learning opportunities that wouldn’t have been available had they grown up in a city. However, she is acutely aware of how easily it can all go wrong.
“There are so many risks on the farm. Everytime we walk out the back door we face hazards everywhere – livestock, fires, machinery, vehicles coming and going, chemicals, dams. I taught a boy at school who died on a four-wheeler and I know a local girl who was run over by a mower…just really horrible incidents, that can happen so easily,” explained Lisa.
“Never take your eyes off your children. Teach them about safety – how to use equipment that is age appropriate, go through a fire safety plan, how to call Triple ‘000’ in an emergency – and keep reiterating it.”
“Along with active adult supervision, creating a safe play area is one of the most effective ways to keep your kids safe from the vast range of hazards that exist on farms. It can give you peace of mind that your little one will be kept well out of harm’s way while you go about your daily routine and work on the farm”, said Mr Chambers.
Kidsafe Victoria is conducting a farm safety competition where all Victorian preschoolers and primary school aged children are invited to get creative and design educational materials that promote injury prevention on the farm.
The theme centres around how we can all play a part in making the farm a safe experience for everyone and encourages children to become a real life ‘Farm Safety Hero’.
For more advice on farm safety and Kidsafe Victoria’s Farm Safety Creative Competition closing on 4th November, please visit https://www.kidsafevic.com.au/home-safety/farm-safety-creative-competition/
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