Dairy Focus MARCH, 2016
DAIRY WOMEN IN CRISIS
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COMMENT FROM EDITOR
GIVEAWAY Win this gorgeous pamper pack: Just answer this question correctly and send your answer to Dairy Focus, 161 Burnett Street, Ashburton 7700 or email Nadine.P@theguardian.co.nz with your details. Who said “”My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.”
This issue is for you. We also urge our You the mum, you the Government to not partner, the financial ignore our rural operator, the woman women. that’s working longer The greatest support hours on farm or in a downturn is each seeking work off farm other. to get through. We just need to find Nadine RURAL You the comforting the glue that holds us Porter REPORTER shoulder, the heart all together – whether Tweet us @farmjourno of the home and the it be informal coffee eternally optimistic gatherings, pot-luck half of the equation dinners, movie nights because someone has to be. because then we understand we are not You who feels alone, lost and alone in all of this. drowning. Every part We hear your of our rural voice. We hear community feels There are people in your struggle. splintered and And while it’s sore and weary at every community, reassuring to the moment but know our men’s we must look to in every region of mental health has our families, our this country who been top priority, schools as our it doesn’t mean sustenance because will respond if you you have been they remind us reach out forgotten. of what remains We know you constant long after are struggling. this year’s pay-out We know you has passed. have different needs to males. And There are people in every community, we know those needs might not be in every region of this country who will necessarily met. respond if you reach out. We urge you to reach out to someone So reach out for those people. There is in your community – be it a neighbour no shame in talking, in sharing because or another mother at school. in sharing we halve the load.
CONTACTS We appreciate your feedback. Editor Email your comments to nadine.p@theguardian. co.nz or phone 03 307 7957. Advertising Email trudy.b@ theguardian.co.nz or phone 03 307 7955. Post Ashburton Guardian, PO Box 77, Ashburton.
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RURAL WOMEN IN CRISIS
Alone and in crisis While the mental health focus has been on our rural men, particularly in the face of declining dairy incomes, the social and mental health of our women is being neglected. That gap is being exposed through various mediums including the 6000-strong Farming Mums Facebook page. Nadine Porter investigates the looming crisis among our rural women and asks who is really there for them?
When Chanelle O’Sullivan set up a Facebook page over two years ago, she hoped it would become an accessible social media platform in which rural mums like herself could reach out to each other. With traditional rural women’s groups dwindling, and many women living a hectic lifestyle, the page became a lifeline to many seeking to connect with others experiencing the same trials, tribulations and anecdotes. Originally a closed page with 100 members, Farming Mums NZ quickly began to garner the attention of all
women who identified themselves as being female. Whereas four to five women were joining the page every week, these days the numbers have risen to almost 400 new members every month. The page doesn’t discriminate – there’s a wide range of ages and an even wider range of issues being posted every day and all are carefully monitored by Chanelle and her team. continued P4
Farming Mums NZ facilitator Chanelle O’Sullivan says people don’t realise PHOTO MICHELLE NELSON how dire the situation is with our women.
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from P3 The sad news this year is that the posts have moved away from mums sharing photos, recipes and farm experiences to more despondent posts from lonely, unhappy miserable women dealing with the stress of the dairy fall-out. And what’s alarming and becoming ever clearer to Chanelle is that there is very little out there to help them. For every public post on the page dealing with a myriad of social situations including domestic abuse, there’s an equal number sent anonymously behind the front screen of the page. There are the stories of heartbreak at watching a partner’s mental decline on farm as the financial noose tightens, the angst at trying to support children and put on a happy face for their partners, the tears at losing their job, their livelihood and their dreams. “Just this morning I had a woman whose husband had been hearing voices and was under the care of a psychiatric team and she wasn’t sure who she could turn to. The fact that she had to come to an online forum to get help shows there should be more support.” While women might not commit suicide in the same numbers as men, Chanelle said many were still struggling, miserable, isolated or
unhappy. “And I don’t think we can afford for our rural women to be like that. People don’t realise how dire the situation is and how many people are on edge.” While the page is not all doom and gloom, it does paint a disturbing picture of our rural women – alone and in crisis. And while these women might not be killing themselves
drinking and psychological distress, it doesn’t break the data down into rural versus urban areas. So with no real data prompting a wake-up call, and the most at risk women able to hide their struggle behind the farm gate, the chasm is not just gaping between support available for these women and their access to it – it’s the Cook Strait between two very
Just this morning I had a woman whose husband had been hearing voices and was under the care of a psychiatric team and she wasn’t sure who she could turn to. The fact that she had to come to an online forum to get help shows there should be more support
and therefore not appearing on the Government’s radar, they are at risk of self-harming in other ways - yet alcohol and drug abuse has not been measured in rural communities thus far. Ministry of Health senior media advisor Rebecca Walsh said while a range of data was gathered through the New Zealand health survey, including information on hazardous
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different islands. Part of the issue is the ministry’s ignorance and indifference to the growing issue. One staff member’s glib comments to this reporter that if women were talking on a Facebook page they were okay, was symptomatic of the often stereotypical way women’s issues are handled. At a recent presentation, Federated Farmers’ board member Jeanette
Maxwell responded that the problem was being dealt with through the Rural Health Alliance Aoteroa New Zealand (RHANZ) – something she has been heavily involved with since its inception in 2013. The alliance was set up as a united voice from multiple rural sector organisations to develop solutions and influence policy affecting the health and wellbeing of rural communities. One of its key objectives was to research key issues in rural health, develop knowledge about them, and disseminate relevant information and knowledge to those with an interest in rural health. The alliance has also been contracted by Government as part of its $500,000 emergency response funding to upskill rural health professionals and social services groups in suicide prevention strategies and to strengthen rural sector linkages. Women, Mrs Maxwell claimed, with the help of upskilled GPs, would be more likely to talk to their doctor about any issues they might be experiencing when they take their children in for an appointment. While a great theory, many of the farming women carrying heavy burdens at the moment say they can’t afford to leave the farm. They haven’t got the money for a $50 consultation for themselves and are not likely
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RURAL WOMEN IN CRISIS to sit down and divulge their private struggles in the confines of a 15-minute appointment while they get their children vaccinated. For the Government it’s great PR - a feel-good funding gesture – but it doesn’t reach the heart of the issue, women on farm, who are not having any communication with the outside world. On several occasions the Minister of Health, Jonathan Coleman, has refused to respond to questions over rural women’s health. His press secretary constantly refers us back to the $500,000 injection into boosting mental health services in rural communities but whenever deeper answers are sought about our rural women the answer is resolute – no comment. And yet the issue remains and grows. A rural school principal with a high proportion of dairy farming families told us recently of escalating behavioural issues among those students as parents struggled to cope. That principal’s message was clear – ignore what’s happening behind the farm gate and you designate some of our rural children to social problems. Mid Canterbury Principals’ Association president Chris Murphy said while the association had only discussed the dairy downturn’s impact in passing, principals were aware of how tight the financial situation was for many rural families at present. continued P6
Rural Women NZ President Wendy McGowan is keen to find a solution.
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RURAL WOMEN IN CRISIS from P5 Mr Murphy said they were working with DairyNZ to implement a school kit to support families within the next month. “Rural schools are always the hub of their communities. We care not only about the children but the communities they come from. It’s definitely difficult times out there but we will continue to do our best for the community.” Chanelle O’Sullivan knows just how difficult the situation is – the issues have avalanched into her mailbox, so much so that she is now having to consider finding funding for a counsellor, and upskilling by way of a Mental Health 101 course. And yet she sits in isolation with very little to help her and her small administration team. Once the stalwart of women’s rural issues, Rural Women NZ are at a loss to know what to do, with many of their members ageing and of a different generation to those that are having significant issues now. But they are trying to understand. President Wendy McGowan said the federation was “very aware” of the issue, although there were not any current initiatives under way to help. “Apart from stopping to have a cup of tea with your neighbours.” Wendy, like many of their current members, lived through the turmoil of the 1980s and has much to offer in support and advice to our women. But it’s
finding a forum to do that in with many thinking of Rural Women as an outdated concept. Keen to reach out, Wendy said they would be approaching the issue at board level, and grappling with how to best reach those in most need. “We do have to look at what we can do … we need to look at who is looking after the carer.” And while the Rural Support Trusts have been bandied about by the primary sector as the one-stop shop to go for professional and mental services, they are scrambling to meet escalating soft skill needs. The trust was originally set up for adverse effects. They were the support organisation you went to when you had mammoth snowfalls or catastrophic flooding on your farm. They were the people that co-ordinated the manpower to snow rakers in the high country or the farmers to clear debris – much like the student army did during the Christchurch earthquakes. Superb at practical support but with no past experience nor mandate to handle the soft skills required of this dairy downturn, and in particular women soft skills, they have struggled to fill the gaps. It’s fair to say the dairy crisis has thrown a whole new can of worms at them and while they’re up for the challenge, history suggests they’re not experienced at handling women’s needs.
However, Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Tim Silva was at pains to say the trust was not gender specific, worked across nationalities, and across the working spectrum and were tapping on women’s groups as required. Tim pointed out 90 per cent of calls to the trust are from rural women on behalf of their family or a neighbour they were concerned about. He said if there was a perception the trust was not the first port of call for rural women’s mental or social issues, it needed to be fixed. “What we don’t want when dealing with the issue is to torpedo the trust as an option for these women.”
Mid Canterbury Principals’ Association President Chris Murphy says the association is working with DairyNZ to implement a school kit to support rural families.
RURAL WOMEN IN CRISIS
There is no doubt the trust has done an incredible job and will continue to do so, but the lack of a gender specific approach to women seems to be working against it with one dairy woman’s first-hand experience of the trust highlighting the complexity of the issue. The woman shared with us that while the trust had offered great advice on consultants to help with managing the farm through the crisis, and had supported her depressed partner whose mental health had deteriorated, no support was offered to her. She was the mother of two children, worked alongside her partner on farm and was doing the bookwork. Just thinking about their situation was enough to make her vomit, but she felt her plight was not important. So long as the man in the situation was okay, that was all that mattered. No one asked her how she was coping. That same woman said she couldn’t afford to go to a doctor, didn’t have time to be attending counselling because cut-backs on farm meant she needed to work longer hours, and her children were suffering because she frequently lost her temper and shouted at them. There were no women’s events
Women are socialised to talk more about their problems and have not been taught that when times are really tough you just have to harden up
in her areas and most other rural mums were too busy to have coffee as many have had to work off farm in order for it to survive. She knew of many mothers who were drinking at least a bottle of wine a night to cope – even though they couldn’t afford it. Her only communication and perceived support was from reading other rural mums’ posts on the Farming Mums NZ Facebook page but she felt it wasn’t enough … Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand CEO Hugh Norriss believed one of the reasons the focus had been on men was because they were more likely to isolate themselves and work harder when times were tough. But he acknowledged the pain women faced as well, especially with many couples working as equal partners. “If men aren’t coping well women may need to be there to pick up the pieces as well. We definitely need
to not forget about their needs as well.” While men have higher rates of suicide, women have higher rates of depression and anxiety problems, he said. “Women are socialised to talk more about their problems and have not been taught that when times are really tough you just have to harden up.” However, he believed there was room, among the current rural mental health initiatives for a programme that gets women involved as well. “Even though traditionally women have had stronger social networks there comes a point where they need extra help as well.” Another good strategy for coping, he said, was to draw on social connections in the community because one of the benefits of sharing is that people learn they are not the only ones struggling and between them they can share the burden.
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HELPLINES ■■ Rural Support Trust: 0800 787 254 Rural Support Trusts help people and families in the wider rural community who experience an adverse event – climatic, financial or personal – to more effectively meet and overcome these challenges. Services are free and confidential. ■■ Lifeline (0800 543 354 for calls outside Auckland and 09 5222 999 for Auckland) ■■ Samaritans (0800 726 666) ■■ Youthline (0800 376 633) ■■ Depression help-line (0800 111 757) ■■ Healthline (0800 611 116). ■■ Some websites have information about depression and who to contact for help. The Lowdown also has text and email support services available specifically for young people. ■■ www.thelowdown.co.nz ■■ www.depression.org.nz ■■ www.lifeline.org.nz ■■ Counselling services such as school guidance counsellors, iwi and other Maori health/counselling services, lesbian and gay support counselling services, sexual abuse counselling services, alcohol and drug services or other specialist counselling services, such as bereavement services, family counsellors, whanau support services, refugee support services, etc
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RURAL WOMEN IN CRISIS
King calls for urgent rethink So with the fragmentation of services, and decline of women’s groups the question remains - what can be done to help these women? Labour health spokesperson Annette King believes an urgent rethink of strategy around rural mental health funding is needed and wants the Minister of Health to listen to escalating concerns about rural women struggling to cope with the dairy downturn. Rural women should not be the last cab off the rank, she said, because if their mental health breaks down, it has a wider effect on their family and their community. “This is the time to rethink the strategy and look at the most appropriate place to put funding. Don’t wait until we have a crisis and say we should have done something about it and listen up to what’s being said.” Ms King said while $500,000 was granted by Government to help the rural community around mental health at the beginning of the dairy downturn, the situation has deteriorated further and the original
strategy no longer fitted the looming crisis in rural communities. “They just muck around at times when some positive forward action could save a lot of heartache like the mental health row over the people of Christchurch after the earthquakes. Its five years on but the minster is only listening now.” Forecasts say the downturn isn’t going to get better over the next one to two years, she said, with some commentators threatening this will have an impact of catastrophic proportions on rural communities. Ms King said women in particular need some added help. “The women will be looking after everyone else – making sure the kids are alright and making sure their husbands are coping. What would probably work is some support funding into a relevant group like the Dairy Women’s Network.” Dairy Women’s Network Chief Executive Officer Zelda de Villiers said the network relied on volunteers to run event days where women can get together and share their stories but this was proving difficult in the current
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Labour health spokesperson Annette King wants the Ministry of Health to have an urgent review of strategy, saying rural women shouldn’t be the last cab off the rank.
climate as more women worked off farm or for longer periods on farm to alleviate financial stress. She said the network could “look into” helping the situation if it had funding to do so. “But we are a very small non-profit group reliant on funding. In tough times our funding goes down. It’s not just about knowing what needs to be done but having the funding to do it.” Ms de Villiers said the dairy
industry was “often focused” on men’s wellbeing. “And that is true that men bear the burden and often don’t talk about these things but the buck stops with women when they are isolated on the farm. Who’s helping them?” But even then one dairy woman told us the network was perceived as being a professional-only organisation – not somewhere women could “let their hair down” and just talk. South Canterbury contract milker Kayla Searle had a hospitality career behind her before she went in boots and all with her husband this year on the Seadown 610-cow farm they milk on. Although reasonably sheltered from the downturn by their supportive employer, Kayla knows how isolating rural farm life can be for a woman, having previously lived in the rural wilds of South Canterbury with husband Scott. While they were only 45 minutes from town, Kayla struggled with not seeing her friends regularly. She believes strongly in having a support network of friends and family and wonders how those that have
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RURAL WOMEN IN CRISIS
And that is true that men bear the burden and often don’t talk about these things but the buck stops with women when they are isolated on the farm. Who’s helping them?
shifted into a different area to where their family support has been are coping. Kayla is an optimistic mum of two children who knows that while the current downturn will delay their dream of becoming farm owners, there is still much to be positive about. Her previous experience of isolation is not unique and an irony of the modern rural world where we are connected better than we ever have been, thanks to technology. But as Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Peter Reveley says, technology doesn’t replace real friends and family at the end of the road. He remains concerned about the plight of our rural women during this downturn. “Girls are taking a hiding more so than their partners, particularly if the men are not giving them a true picture of what’s happening on the farm.” Peter said communication wasn’t good between many couples and he was concerned about the many women
who moved into the district and had no family support or networks. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen if it gets any worse. They (the women) need someone to talk too. The men need to cut the plug to the television and talk to their women and their families and they need to go home and look after their wives because that’s the person they really need to give them a cuddle at night.” He suggested farming districts need to return to past habits of regular gatherings and neighbours communicating regularly. Mid Canterbury Rural Women NZ president Sandra Curd urged any woman that felt they needed to talk to someone outside of the farm to ring anyone within Rural Women. “We are there if they need our help.” Mrs Curd believed the stress women were facing had been underestimated and said Rural Women would help in whatever way they could to alleviate problems, including helping schools and pre-schools to run community events if required.
From: Kirsty TaylorDoig [mailto:Kirsty. Taylor-Doig@parliament. govt.nz] Sent: Friday, 11 March 2016 3:10 p.m. To: Nadine Porter Subject: RE: rural women’s mental health Hi there, the Minister isn’t available this afternoon as he’s attending Martin Crowe’s funeral. Cheers, Kirsty
From: Kirsty Taylor-Doig [mailto:Kirsty.Taylor-Doig@parliament.govt.nz] Sent: Monday, 14 March 2016 2:45 p.m. To: Nadine Porter Hi Nadine The Minister has nothing further to add to his previous comments. Cheers, Kirsty
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman refuses to be drawn on the issue.
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Institute moves with the times Once the backbone for women living in rural areas since its inception in 1921, Women’s Institute has suffered dwindling membership and has struggled to engage a younger generation. But all that might be about to change with the surge in rural women social media platforms and the need for an environment where women can share the stress of today’s downturn, reports Nadine Porter.
It’s a fun conversation taking place on Facebook between two friends one evening in Marlborough. Both are rural mums with young children, both have an extensive network of friends from school days they never seem to have time to catch up with and both have just heard about Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge deciding to join the Anmer Women’s Institute in England. “If she can do it, why don’t we?” Sally Neal asks her friend and within days they set about gathering their Facebook circle of rural friends to come to a coffee meeting at a local café on a Sunday afternoon. Twenty-five of their friends readily agree and it soon becomes clear to Sally that there needs to be a structure - so she emails the New Zealand Federation of Women’s Institute office and is shocked when the national president Kay Hart attends their first meeting in July. It has already become clear to Kay that something must be done to rescue the organisation and she suggests they stay as a younger separate group to the other institute
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It’s what our rural women are missing out on – the whole village thing. Nowadays the first thing you do when you have a problem is Google it. Back in the days you went to Institute or rang your neighbours
branches in the area. “And so Tea and Tarts was formed,” Sally laughs. The name was inspired from the English version – also with younger members who are driving the revival of Women’s Institute there. Once declining, the English institutes boast 20,000 members and growing. For Sally – the first president of Tea and Tarts Marlborough – it is all about sharing face-to-face. “It’s what our rural women are missing out on – the whole village thing. Nowadays the first thing you do when you have a problem is Google it. Back in the days you went to Institute or rang your neighbours.” With 16 paid-up members (the levies go back to Women’s Institute)
and a handful on the fringes, Sally and other rural women have been busy putting their various skills to work. Recently they entered the Marlborough inter-institute festival competition where they entered, between them, 100 entries and took home the trophy. Next month they will make a coaster out of felt balls, drink some coffee, share some stories and plan future meetings where they hope to have speakers. For 74-year-old Kay, the girls are a breath of fresh air. “And all I want now is for every branch to do the same thing.” Kay is progressive in her outlook and realistic in the face of declining membership. She knows Institute
RURAL WOMEN SUPPORT GROUP must evolve and reach out to younger women. Whereas in past times rural women were often stayat-home mums, these days many are tertiary educated and have come from strong careers – and all are using social media to network and inspire. “We’ve been told if we want the Institute to die, sit back and enjoy your meetings, or you can get out and push it. We are a fun group even though we do community work as well.” Since the 1920s Women’s Institute has played an important role in New Zealand rural life. From supporting soldiers in wartime to teaching women the basics of cooking, gardening and everything in between, Institute has been the backdrop to a social supportive environment for all women. The generational shift of the past decade has been the most difficult issue of all facing Institute – causing Kay to advocate starting younger groups like Tea and Tarts in Marlborough alongside
RURAL WOMEN’S GROUPS
Although not as raunchy as the English version pictured here in a promo shoot, Tea and Tarts Marlborough is the first of its type in New Zealand.
the older branches where membership can range from 20 to 99. “You cannot expect the 99-year-olds to appreciate what the 25-yearolds want.” Kay believes retiring
women may also be important in future. “Because women work through to 65 and it takes two incomes to buy a home, they don’t create the hobbies they once did.”
Thrilled with the success in Marlbourgh, she is hoping Sally’s lead will catch on around the country. “It’s not happening fast enough for me, but it’s started!”
■■ Tea and Tarts groups via New Zealand Federation of Women’s Institute: You can set up your own group under the umbrella of this great organisation. Phone 04 801 5553 ■■ Rural Women NZ: A charitable, membership-based organisation which supports people in rural communities through learning opportunities, advocacy and connections. Call 04 473 5524 ■■ Young Rural Ladies Facebook Page: Like-minded women in New Zealand and worldwide sharing their inspiration, entrepreneurial ideas and tricks for a better quality of life. Many coffee groups have sprung up from people that have met on the page ■■ Farming Mums NZ: A Facebook page designed to support rural mums ■■ Dairy Women’s Network: The Dairy Women’s Network supports women to stand proudly and securely in the knowledge of the value they add to their dairy businesses. http://www.dwn. co.nz/
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Helping inspire rural women In the Hakataramea Valley in North Otago, two friends have begun a Facebook page for like-minded young rural women to inspire each other, and its popularity has stunned them. Bex Murray and Sarah Connell began Young Rural Ladies on Facebook at the end of May. Two weeks later the need for such a page was validated with 1000 members. That has now grown to 3000 members and the girls hope to hit 5000 members by Christmas. The girls wanted to create a space where women could share ideas. Sarah says they were looking to build a positive space online that inspired women. “We are not qualified to go too deep into farming matters … there are other platforms that maybe do that better.” She is referring to the hugely popular Farming Mums NZ page that boasts over 5000 members, where all manner of issues are discussed. “It does really worry me how many women are feeling lost, depressed, isolated, uninspired or struggling financially. That page in particular strikes a chord with me that as rural
women we need a bit more attention.” Sarah said she and Bex would look into Rural Women NZ and talk with them in the future, although they have no set plans as to where their online network will lead. “Although Rural Women NZ is amazing, I think they are just a bit outdated, so women of our age are not partaking in it.” A former city girl herself, Sarah understands the unique challenges women face when they first come to a farm and it’s more common than it was in the past. “A lot of friends I’ve made locally don’t necessarily have rural backgrounds.” She cites two English women in her area who met their Kiwi farmers overseas and came back to live with them. “You kind of question things. Am I doing the right thing and am I doing enough? We’re naturally busy people having come from strong careers. I guess we’re looking for another sense of fulfilment by sharing our story and gathering people along the way.” The girls have keyed into a strong
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resurgence in handcrafted hobbies to promote small businesses. among young women. Bex herself For Bex the page has become far dabbles in spray-painting antlers and bigger than the original Trade Me sanding and oiling odd bits of wood for rural women concept she had she finds on farm, while Sarah, who originally planned. is a great cook, often shares recipes “Social media is offering us support online. Others inspire with photos or and a place where we can all come interesting projects they are working together and on. share ideas.” Although the Facebook page has been a way to share, Bex believes meeting in person is equally important – something a group of Waitaki Valley women do often. The page creates a conversation, she says. “But it’s still great to meet for a coffee once a week face-to-face.” The page has given them an insight into some amazing businesses rural women are involved in - and Sarah Connell (left) and Bex Murray from the Waitaki Valley are the they founders of Young Rural Ladies – a Facebook page helping to connect want to and inspire rural women. continue
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RURAL WOMEN SUPPORT GROUP
A weekend of rural fun Working on remote Northern Territory cattle stations gave Kristy McGregor a unique insight into the hardships rural women face. The ex-pat Aussie and Federated Farmers regional policy advisor tells Nadine Porter about how a unique ladies weekend was formed in the area, leading to long-lasting friendship networks and support and how the same format could be used here.
The team that put together Ladies Day in Western Queensland. Kristy McGregor is third from right.
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It’s fair to say Australia’s loss is our gain when it comes to Kristy McGregor and her passion for rural women – and you can’t help wondering if she isn’t the visionary we need. Living in the Manawatu on a family farm with her Kiwi partner, she has been involved in vital regional policy work for our farmers, but the wellbeing of rural women is never far from her mind. That’s because a conversation over a few drinks in a pub one evening in the remote Channel Country in Western Queensland, led to the realisation that there weren’t many opportunities for women to come together. Having worked on cattle stations in the Northern Territory, Kristy became the governess on a 2.2 million acre sheep and beef property. There, she says, groceries were a 12 to 14-hour drive away and the rainy season could mean entrapment on the farm for over a week at a time. They were unique challenges that the women faced and so she and other likeminded women formed the Channel Country Ladies Day – a weekend of inspiring presentations and speakers and a chance for women to connect. continued p14
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from P13 Like here, Australia has strong women’s groups and organisations including Country Women and the Queensland Rural Regional Remote Women’s Network, but also like here, many women, particularly on the fringes of remote areas, did not feel connected to these groups. So the first Ladies Day, held in a hangar on Durham Downs, the station she was working on, brought many experiences to rural women that they didn’t normally get. Rarely getting an opportunity for a break, 80 to 90 women turned up in dubious weather, donned their pink dresses and pink heels and made good. It was to be a life-changing experience for Kristy, who realised just how vital the event had been when one woman approached her with tears in her eyes and thanked her for making her think about what she was doing with her life. This year, the fifth Ladies Day will be held in October. Numbers have been capped to between 180 to 190 and the budget is now $150,000 – a far cry from the first event which was put together in four months. Women come from over 1000km away and no-one bats an eyelid when some fly in on planes – this is, after all, remote Australia. While some may question how an annual weekend away can make a difference in these women’s lives, Kristy has seen friendships flourish, and strong connectivity through social media between events.
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“One thing that’s critical to developing partnerships is having health services too – such as the Flying Doctor Service as well as other health services. They don’t come to be in that role but instead participate and join in and offer a support network if the women need it.” The irony of what she has helped to put together and the current feeling of not being connected by rural Kiwi women has not gone unnoticed by her. “Ladies Day could be a really nice model for here but it’s got to be community-driven to make it happen.” But she knows it’s difficult to find one organisation suitable to run such an event. “The role of Rural Women NZ is really critical and it needs strong leadership but it’s a challenge if the younger women on the ground don’t see them as representing their interests.” However, she learnt from her own experience that it just takes a couple of passionate women to put together an idea. “The key thing I learnt was that if you see an issue and want to do something about it, it doesn’t matter what your role is in the community or where you live or how isolated you are. If you want to create change you can.” Open to sharing and helping set up a similar model in New Zealand, Kristy is concerned our sense of community here isn’t as strong as what she experienced in Western Queensland. “And I think that’s a risk for our communities here but in that, there are new opportunities.”
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COPING WITH DEPRESSION
Depression a debilitating illness Suicide continues to be prevalent in New Zealand with no community left untouched. Nadine Porter tells her own personal experience of depression from a young age and how seeking help changed her life.
I recall that moment … the haze and feeling of needing significant peace and a place to just submerge my weary head. Just 23 years old, driving across the Rangitata River on my way to work at the Timaru Herald and the overpowering thought that calmed me – it would be so nice to just drive into that river, let it take me away. These days I shudder recalling that defining thought as I expect friends who may read this will. You see, to the outside world Nadine Porter was a success. She had a great career, a fantastic husband and was the happiest clown in the newsroom. Except I wasn’t, not really, not ever. And that one morning, driving to work I came very close to proving that. And in that mind-set of feeling so bone tired, so lifeless, so disinterested in everyone and
On top of the world outwardly, but struggling inside. Nadine and Tim Porter at the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
everything I really believed drowning was a haven. It was not so surprising on the face of it. My father had committed suicide at the age of 36. And there seemed to be depression issues throughout the generations on that side of the family – not that anyone would admit to it. God, it was hard enough
for me to admit to it. Driven, ambitious and successful, I could not understand why I lacked zest and vigour and would drive myself further, work longer hours, set even higher goals. Now, I see that much of that drive stemmed from trying to block the sadness of my childhood, but it also
came from what I believe is a genetic pre-disposition in my family. A doctor put me on medication but I was too ashamed to take it and quit the tablets after two weeks, citing no change in my attitude. At work I continued as always and not one person would have had any idea that I was suffering. That was the way I wanted it. After all, to have a condition named depression was shameful. It relegated you to the fringe of society. I was sure people would look at me sideways, would treat me differently. Most of all I was afraid of what it said about me. Surely it meant I was a weak lily-livered kid that was too sensitive, too dramatic, too cowardly to deal with life. I couldn’t tell my mother. The shame and stigma of dad’s suicide had followed us all our lives and I knew she thought he was gutless. continued P16
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Farming Dairy Focus
COPING WITH DEPRESSION from P15 Our family was afterall, quintessentially rural, quintessentially Kiwi; in that you didn’t discuss the inner workings of your brains. The words mental and fruit loops were the only words my subconscious were used to hearing, growing up, whenever a topic of mental health was broached. It was an ignorant attitude that pervaded much of New Zealand society and one that has damned us to the incredibly alarming statistics we have today. How can we understand that a person can have a blockage causing a deficit of blood to their heart and needs medical attention, but we can’t get our heads around our brains not producing enough chemicals to keep us on an even keel? My doctor defined my condition as clinical depression – a mental disorder characterised by a pervasive and persistent low mood, accompanied by low self-esteem and by a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. It is considered a disabling condition that adversely affects a person’s family, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health. My doctor believed when he went into my family history that it was possibly pervasive throughout my family. And although there are many research trials to come, scientists believe genetic predisposition
can cause half the cases of major depression. Some believe it may be the only factor that causes the illness. Years later I was to find out that siblings had suffered the same illness, but we had not shared that as a family. It was secretive and to be covered up. Again, the message was that depression was shameful and the secondary message was that it could be avoided. And even though I was being told that this wasn’t the case, I couldn’t bring myself to admit I was suffering. I went many years before I finally submitted and went on a fulltime course of anti-depressants. My husband likes to say that was a turning point in my life. He says the pills didn’t make me happy like many medical myths would have you believe. They didn’t change me in any way outwardly, but they did lift that lethargy. They put me on a static line rather than falling below it all the time. It’s natural to feel sad and to feel happy. But it’s not natural to feel low all the time and as if the life has gone out of your very bones every day. I am a strong person, so I willed myself out of bed, willed myself to exercise, work hard and to achieve, but underneath I felt I wasn’t really living. I felt as if I was just pitching through life – that nothing was enjoyable and this was supposed to be how it was. Others can’t cope with that battle and take drastic measures –
something that motivates me to action. I see too many younger people in our community disappearing. Often they leave no clue as to what they were feeling, which suggests we have still wrapped the illness in a stigmatic shroud. And young women are quickly catching up to our males in the statistics. I wonder if they knew how common it is for people to experience depression at some stage of their life, if that would make a difference? I wonder if people talking about their experiences will help take that stigma away? Today I know I will be on medication probably for life. It doesn’t bug me and I don’t care who knows about it. But I see the losses in our community continuing. And I see a worrying trend of young women losing their battle when suicide always used to be talked about in terms of young men. Although we have had a spotlight on mental illness over the past decade with the likes of John Kirwan telling his story, I honestly believe we are only at the beginning of the discussion. I would say to parents – if you have had problems tell your children – don’t hide it from them. Hiding it relegates it to being something shameful. It isn’t. For adults I have a stronger message. Get help. As a mother now, I could not envisage leaving my children. I grew up without my father and the pain is
real and constant. It never fades away and it will emotionally cripple your children, and so the cycle continues. I found out that dad lay down on railway tracks when he was 17, but in those days instead of getting counselling and support he was given a kick up the bum and told to grow up. After a toxic marriage with my mother, in which they both struggled, he took us into his bedroom one night and gave us all gifts and said he would be leaving us forever. The next day he borrowed a gun from our next door neighbour, took my eldest brother down the paddock and let him watch as he shot himself. The trauma of that decision and that day led to a dysfunctional family and some very black years. As siblings we are not close. We are damaged and I’m not the only sibling that has contemplated suicide since then. So for me, seeking help has been the greatest gift. I have a wonderful family and I’m determined that same cycle won’t continue. At 40 I have an inner peace I didn’t have before and I realise it’s actually weaker to ignore symptoms of this debilitating illness than it is to conquer it. As a person I haven’t changed one bit but we like to say I got my spark back. I look forward to the next day and I laugh genuinely. In this complex world it’s what I would call happy and healthy.
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Farming Dairy Focus
Passion for progression - The New In 2006, the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards was created to bring under one umbrella the Federated Farmers Sharemilker of the Year competition, the Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards and the Dairy Farmers of New Zealand, Dairy Trainee of the Year. While the Sharemilker of the Year had a national competition since 1989, the Farm Manager of the Year was a relatively new competition with their first national winner announced in 2003. The Dairy Trainee of the Year was an almost brand new competition at the time of the merge, with their first national winner crowned in 2008. In 2011, the Sharemilker of the Year underwent an expansion to include equity farmers, and became the Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition. In 2015-2016, the competition underwent a further change with the Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year changing its
name to Share Farmer of the Year and including Contract Milkers in the competition. The Farm Manager of the Year changed its name to Dairy Manager of the Year, and widened its brief to include not just those with Farm Manager as their title,
but also more senior employed positions that did not meet the criteria for Dairy Trainee of the Year. The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards attracts farmers from across the country, working in all levels of the dairy industry. The
awards showcase and support our passionate farmers of the future. The three competitions give entrants the chance to earn a regional or national title and to share in substantial regional and national prize pools. The Canterbury/North
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Zealand Dairy Awards Share Farmer of the Year Finalists Dairy Manager of the Year 2016 2016 for Canterbury/North Otago Canterbury/North Otago
Dairy Trainee of the Year 2016 Canterbury-North Otago
Michael & Susie Woodward – Leeston 50% sharemilker Farm effective ha: 297 1000 cows Farm Owner: Purata
Matthew Parmar – Geraldine Farm Manager Farm Effective ha: 245 770 Cows Farm owner: Ardwell Dairy Ltd
Gareth Bearman – Oamaru 25 years Position: Assistant Employers name: Kokoamo Farms Interests: Fishing, golf, young Farmers
Matt & Vanessa Greenwood – Fairlie 21% Sharemilker Farm Effective ha: 175 600 cows Farm owner: Kieran & Leonie Guiney
Hamish Kilpatrick – Culverden Farm Manager Farm Effective ha: 120 378 cows Farm owner: James McCone
Hamish Lee – Temuka 19 years Position: Herd Manager Employers name: Hooper Trustee’s Ltd Interests: Hunting, hockey, family
Tony Coltman & Dana Carver – Leeston 50% sharemilker Farm effective ha: 335 1392 cows Farm Owner: Canlac Holdings 2014 Ltd
Daniel McAtamney & Paula Lalich – Darfield Assistant Managers Farm effective ha: 198 740 cows Farm owner: Melrose Ltd Farm Employer: Sam O’Rielly
Rikki Forge – Rangiora 24 years Position: 2IC Employer’s name: Richard Pearse Interests: playing sports, exploring the countryside, playing squash and touch rugby
Murray Bowden – Hinds Farm Manager Farm effective ha: 184 775 cows Farm owner: Rylib Group
Melissa Barwell – Hinds 23 years Position: Assistant Employers name: Murray Bowden Interests: Bush walking, hunting, fishing
Dinuka Gamage – Culverden Farm Manager Farm Effective ha: 285 970 cows Farm Owner: Kairoma Farm Limited
Lauren Wilson – Carew 23 years Position: Assistant Employers name: Barnswood Farms Ltd Interests: hiking, walking her two dogs, scenery photography, running, reading books
Steve & Kersha Veix–Dorie 20.5% sharemilker Farm Effective ha: 140 580 cows Farm Owner: Brendon Dolan Ben & Jemma Abernethy – Oxford Contract milker Farm Effective ha: 185 650 cows Farm owner: TKR Trust
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Farming Dairy Focus
Keep forced behaviour to a minimum How much are you willing to pay to minimise your lameness cost? I guess the answer would be “as much as it takes as long as the benefits exceed the cost”. Lameness costs a lot of money even in a low payout year. It is difficult to give money away if you haven’t got any to give away. In a low payout year the cost won’t be as high as in a high payout year due to lower cow prices and the loss of milk production is less costly because of lower milk prices. However, the cost is much more critical. You simply cannot afford to have your cows under-performing in a financially-difficult year. The trick is to get as much out of your cows with the least amount of cost. In order to do that the basic needs of the cow must be met. This way she will be producing well and have the least amount of problems, including lameness. Many people don’t know or don’t appreciate the importance of this fact, yet it is quite observable when you look at cow behaviour. Most farmers
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that move to a 16-hour milking schedule towards the end of the season report that their cows move faster back to the paddock, milk production stays the same and they have less lameness. What has changed for the cows when they are only being milked every 16 hours instead of every 12 hours? Well, the short answer is that you are giving your cow more time in the paddock. This means that the cows are getting more time to behave in a natural manner. Look at a well-fed herd in the paddock. What are they doing? How are they behaving? They graze, lay down, drink and do some socialising. This is obviously normal, natural behaviour,
or at least as close to it as the cow can get in the environment in which we put them. What do cows do in the yard? They just stand there waiting. It is quite a different behaviour from what they are showing us in the paddock. If cows are spending a lot of time just standing in the paddock and doing nothing other than standing, then there is a problem. If we force our cows to take on a different behaviour pattern to what they would choose themselves then you
can expect problems. That sounds reasonable doesn’t it? You could argue that cows would get used to a different behaviour as they are creatures of habit. However, if it is true that the forced behaviour is not an issue for the cows then why are they improving so quickly when that forced behaviour is reduced? So, what is my point? I am not saying that we should cut out all forced behaviour. A cow needs to be milked and the farm needs to run practically. What I am saying is that the forced behaviour
should be kept to an absolute minimum. If you don’t think this is a big deal, just ask your cows. See if they will change their behaviour when they get more paddock time. The aim should be to let the cows behave as naturally as possible for the most time possible. That may mean milking every 16 hours, having smaller herds, being more efficient with milking or anything else you can think of, but it does not need to cost much to minimise your lameness cost.
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Farming Dairy Focus
HEALTH & SAFETY FEATURE
Keeping safe on the farm Health and safety is about ensuring that everyone on farm is safe and returns home at the end of the day. The Health and Safety in Employment Act describes employers’ responsibilities including taking all practicable steps to ensure safety for all people on farm. The act also stipulates that employees have a responsibility for ensuring their safety and others.
Why focus on safety? Let’s be blunt. It’s sobering to report 20 deaths in the industry each year, which is only the tip of the iceberg. A significant number of ACC claims which result in higher costs to the business in terms of ACC levees, and the absence of workers due to injury means reduced production, extra labour costs, and/or extra burden on other staff. More needs to be done to keep everyone on the farm safe.
Basic steps to begin • Identify the hazards on
your farm • Step back and review the risk they present • Reduce the overall risk to staff, contractors and visitors by making changes • Monitor and review • Use tools developed by WorkSafe NZ to complete your health and safety plan
Documents you must have by law
• Accident or serious harm
form • Notification of particular hazardous work • Chemical/hazardous substances register
Documents that support your farm business • Emergency procedure notices • Training records form • Equipment machinery
maintenance record • Visitors to farm - hazard guide • Accident investigation form How can farmers legally involve their children in the farm, especially when you have to travel to get around? You can involve children around the farm in all sorts of ways. The legal requirement is that you take all practicable
steps to ensure the safety of authorised people on the farm. Putting two people on a vehicle designed for one, or towing an overloaded trailer, or using a grinder without eye protection, are all examples of accidents waiting to happen. Ask yourself: if I am transporting children on the farm, what vehicle is safe to use, not how do I adapt a vehicle I have. Source: DairyNZ
HEALTH & SAFETY FEATURE
Supporting our industries and community As a Mid Canterbury business, servicing the wider rural community, Honda Country Ashburton believe in supporting the industries and individuals they work with and for. “It’s something we believe is important, supporting and putting back into the community, rewarding those that are achieving good things” says service manager, Murray Sexton. Honda Country, through Blue Wing Honda nationally, has been long-term supporters of the New Zealand Dairy Industry awards, held annually. Around 400 will attend the regional Canterbury and North Otago final dinner which will be held at Wigram in early April. Various awards will be given out, including the Farm Safety & Health Award, sponsored by Honda. Farm safety is an area Honda Country is proactive, and keen promoters of. “We’d like to remind farmers to make themselves aware of the new Health and Safety at Work Act, which comes into force April 4.” Copies of
the Worksafe Best Practice Guidelines for use of quad bikes and two-wheeled motorbikes on farms are available at Honda Country’s Ashburton premises, on East Street. “We can help with a fair bit of information, like ensuring all farm workers are wearing
approved, well-fitted and securely-fastened helmets. Normal Ag-Hats with NZS 8600-2002 safety standard rating are suitable for speeds below 30km/h, a proper motorcycle helmet is more appropriate for higher speeds. It’s also important to follow
HONDA TRX420FM1 4WD
vehicle manufacturers’ recommended servicing schedules, ensuring safer vehicles.” Honda Country, again through Blue Wing Honda at a national level, is also a major supporter of the New Zealand Young Farmers’ competition, not only donating prizes but
also getting involved with various elements of the practical competition at a local level, including judging and supplying Honda quadbikes for the practical modules. The Young Farmers’ Aorangi Regional Final is due to be held in Ashburton on Saturday, April 16.
We are the experts in:
Underpasses Laneways Effluent Ponds
Phone Dave Rowlands 027 484 1114 Diesel Workshop direct line: 308 7400
HONDA COUNTRY www.hondacountry.co.nz 740 East St, Ashburton. Phone 03 308 2030 Murray Sexton 0273 299 244
Ashburton Contracting Limited
P 03 308 4039 A 48 South Street, Ashburton W www.ashcon.co.nz
USED TRACTORS & MACHINERY Ag Tractors
SCAN THIS CODE TO VIEW OUR FULL RANGE!
John Deere 6310P
John Deere 6320
John Deere 6320P
John Deere 6330P
John Deere 6510
Premium model, 4WD, 100hp, 8375 hrs, 1997, Pearson 2039 Loader with bucket, 24x24 P/Q trans, 231306, G. WAS $32,000 NOW $29,900
4WD, 100hp, 4555 hours, 2007, JD 653 SL Loader, PowerQuad Transmission, 231338, G. WAS $50,000 NOW $47,500
Premium model, 4WD, 100hp, 6800 hours, 2002, PowerQuad Trans, JD 640NSL Loader, 2-Remotes, 230863, N. WAS $52,000 NOW $49,500
MFWD, 105hp, 24 speed PowerQuad Plus transmission, 4150 hours, 2007, Premium cab & lights, 231415, T. WAS $72,000 NOW $69,900
4WD, 110hp, 8700 hours, Stoll Loader, PowerQuad Transmission, Workshop checked and repaired, 231307, T. $39,500
John Deere 6420P
John Deere 6830P
John Deere 6930P
John Deere 6150R
John Deere 7530P
Premium Model, 4WD, 110hp, 8700 hours, A/C Cab, 2002, JD 640 SL Loader, Full Spec - TLS (Front Susp) & Cab Susp, 230746, B. $49,500
Premium model, 4WD, 140hp, 5580 hours, 2009, AutoQuad trans, JD 683 SL Loader, TLS, Cab susp, 10x weights, 231490, T. $88,000
Premium model, 4WD, 150hp, 4600 hours, 2010 model, IVT transmission, 40K Road Speed, 231548, G. WAS $85,500 NOW $81,500
4WD, 150hp(6cyl) with Powerboost to 170hp, 2290 hrs, IVT 40K trans, 2013, TLS & Cab Susp, 230901, T. WAS $137,000 NOW $133,500
Premium model, 4WD, 180hp with power boost to 200hp(IPM), 5885 hrs, 2008, IVT 50kph tran, TLS and Cab susp, 231348, T. $87,500
John Deere 7730
Massey Ferguson 4270
4WD, 180hp, Approx 3850 hours, 2010 model, TLS with Hyd front Diff lock, P/Q 20/20 trans, 40KPH, Duals included, 231476, K. $110,000
4WD, 126hp, 8160 hours, Stoll Robust F31 NSL Loader with bucket, 22976, O. NOW $27,000 WAS $29,000
4WD, 135hp, 1600 hours, 2012, MX T10 Loader, Front suspension, 231329, B. NOW $67,250 WAS $70,000
4WD, 105hp, 3300 hours, 1998, Stoll F30 SL Loader, Third Service, Wet clutch, 24x24 Speed trans, 230857, N. $34,900
4WD, 95hp, 3095 hours, ROPS, Trima 2.0 Loader, Xtra Shift transmission, 231331, T. NOW $34,500 WAS $35,000
Rata Bucket & Grab
Feeder Leader ‘The Boss’
McIntosh 2 Bale
High volume bucket, 1800 wide, Mailleux mounts, Twin rams, As new, 231506, N. $5,500
Two Bale Feeder, Square Bale Attachment, Only feed ten bales, As new, 231634, N. $12,000
2 Bale trailed feeder, Round bales, Self loading, 231343, K.
Silage Wagon, Tandem axle, Side feed, 7.5 Cubic Meter, 22936, T.
Feed-out wagon, Tandem axle, Center feed, 9 cubic meter capacity, 231594, T. $4,500
Cultivation & Seeding
Cambridge 3M Roller
Celli Ergon 255
John Deere 750A
Samco Maize Planter
3M working width Roller with carrier unit fitted, Hazard panels for the road, 231552, G. $7,250
1000 PTO Gear box, 2.6m Work width, 50% Spikes, Cage roller, Tidy unit, Ready to go, 230864, T. WAS $12,500 NOW $10,500
2008, 6M Seed drill, Taege electric drive conversion, Accord Seeders, 3m trans width, 2300L Hopper, 231259, T. WAS $89,000 NOW $79,900
No Till Drill, Triple Box (including small seed box), 3.22m Wide, 22 Run, 5 1/4” Row spacing, 231240, K. $18,900
4 Row maize planter, 2002 model, New points, Electric monitor, Row cover equipment, 22552, O. WAS $12,500 NOW $11,900
ALL PRICES EXCLUDE GST
3 Charles O’Connor St
80 Beach Road
70 Gladstone Rd
Main North Rd
0800 BUY GHM 0800 289 446