Harriet Bremner makes an Aussie connection with a life-saving focus.

During the lockdown in 2020, I was lucky enough to work alongside Australian social entrepreneur Alex Thomas as we launched her #Plantaseedforsafety rural social change initiative platform into New Zealand.

We gathered some wonderful women and shared their stories so they could sit alongside their Aussie counterparts – because let’s face it, women care and think about things differently to their other half, their children and even their parents.

Being involved in this launch for me was proof that we do need to do something about the state of health and safety in agriculture in NZ and we still have a long way to go.

Alex believes rural women are the door that provides the opening to changing our attitudes towards health and safety in agriculture. She knows it is men who are more likely to die in an accident and farmers, in general, are eight times more likely to die at work.

Women, as we know, care. Care about our loved ones coming home at the end of the day. Often women are the ones either at home waiting for ‘him’ to get back, knowing he is working with machinery or in a remote area and having that feeling inside you when you aren’t sure if they are okay or not, is downright awful. I have been there as I imagine countless others of you have been too.

Others of us are farming alongside our male co-workers, partners, sons and more and see first-hand how differently we think about getting the job done. We tend to stop and think about how best to do the job, not just throw ourselves at it with the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude. This keeps us safe and it can be so frustrating watching those around you do things on a daily basis that they only get away with by good luck, not good management.

Alex knows women have been planting the seed when it comes to health and safety in rural communities and she is on a mission to engage men in this part of their lives by adopting the #SaveALifeListenToYourWife slogan.

Her personal story of her disabled dad and former farmer, who continues to fight for his life from a multitude of health issues is where Alex gets her drive to help others.

Her dad was a farmer who, like so many blokes, was relentlessly committed to providing for his family, and getting the job done, at all costs.

He didn’t take holidays, breaks or eat properly, go to the doctor etc – he just burnt the midnight oil…. Health and safety aren’t always things that have an instant impact on us – think chemical handling and gaining cancer down the track or hearing loss from years on a post driver with no ear muffs.

When we cannot see instant backlash from our actions, we carry on without thinking about how it could affect us and our lives..

What I would love readers to gain from this column is knowledge. Head to the #PlantASeedForSafety website – plantaseedforsafety.com/about/ – and you will see a multitude of stories that have been shared by women in agriculture both in Australia and NZ. They offer advice and tips on what has worked for them in their farming practice. These are practical tools that can help you with your own health and safety on the farm. You might even want to share your story about what you do so that you too, can help others and save a life.

I thank Alex for her incredible leadership in this space. Without people like this we would continue to face unnecessary tragedy in our rural communities. Instead, let’s focus on making changes that can and will save a life because the aim is to get the people we love home at the end of every single day.