Schools pair up with NZ Young Farmers and Safer Farms to lead farm safety day in Otago

Posted by Erin Speedy on 27 October 2020 | Comments

Over one hundred children have taken part in a mammoth farm safety day in Otago alongside industry leaders.

The initiative which was led by the Strath Taieri School student council, was hosted in partnership with the local community, Safer Farms and New Zealand Young Farmers on Friday.

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Hosted at Strath Taieri School in Middlemarch, Lee Stream School and Macraes Moonlight also came along to learn with 112 children and 65 families in attendance.  

Strath Taieri teacher and student council leader, Kate Martin said the idea started when a child had a minor incident during woodwork and wanted to learn more about first aid and how to be safe and be seen on the farm.

The first half of the day for the primary school aged children was first aid training from the New Zealand Police. For the second half of the day, they took part in eight on farm modules.

These included identifying blind spots around proper tractors, learning to load a trailer and strop it down safely, learning how to use fire extinguishers and dressing up in the proper equipment to ride a motorbike.

With a local school family owning a transport company, the children were lucky enough to also watch and learn first-hand how long a stock truck takes to stop in a hurry and how to be safe around them.

“They were shocked how far it takes to safely pull up if there were trailers and animals on board and how much of a distance that actually is,” Martin said.

“In any farm community, if we have the younger people growing up switching on their ‘think safe brain’ and knowing how to speak up if they see something wrong, then we can’t go wrong,” she said. 

With no other events out there like this, she really enjoyed watching the students learn and said the practical, hands on activities were extremely beneficial.

“They’ll always remember this day. They may not remember all the writing, reading and maths lessons, but they remember days like this and if one thing sticks in their brain then I think we’ve done a pretty good job.”

With WorkSafe and the Rural Support Trust also on sight talking to parents, she said the conversations the kids would take home tonight would also be useful.  

Harriet Bremner with Maisie Rae George Dykes and Ruby Dykes.

New Zealand Young Farmers South Island Territory Manager, Bridget Joicey, said it was fun to support the event and help deliver such important messages through practical activities and in subtle ways.

“It was really cool that the whole day was driven by the student council, not teachers, wanting to learn all about on farm health and safety,” she said.

“I am so proud to see children at such a young age knowing how critical it is to learn about this stuff and who are also so passionate about keeping everyone safe.”

Safer Farms’ Health, Safety and Wellbeing Advocate Harriet Bremner said the main learning of the day was for children to understand to stop, think and make good decisions while out on the farm.

“Being able to involve and engage with children directly about how to keep safe on farm in a hands-on perspective is such an important way for them to learn,” she said.

“The fact they get to take these messages home to their parents and have conversations to help change cultures and behaviours towards health and safety is incredibly important, not just for getting everyone home safe at the end of the day, but also for creating safer on farm environments for everyone.”

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Influencing the younger generation with on farm safety, Bremner believed would instil passion for health and safety from a young age and create safer farms for future generations.

WorkSafe, New Zealand Police, Farmstrong, Southfuels, PGG Wrightson, Norwood, Firewatch, Cook Transport and Hunting and Fishing also sponsored the event, providing prizes and time. 

All 65 families also went home with two Gurt and Pops books’ each, written by Harriet Bremner, ‘Be Safe Be Seen’ and ‘Use Your Voice’ thanks to WorkSafe, Farmstrong and FMG.