Hort leadership needs to consider mental health

Hort leadership needs to consider mental health

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HEAD SPACE: Lisa Brassington says mental health first aid training is critical in the horticulture industry, to help people who are often overworked and not recognising the symptoms of depression. Photo courtesy: Ausveg

HEAD SPACE: Lisa Brassington says mental health first aid training is critical in the horticulture industry, to help people who are often overworked and not recognising the symptoms of depression. Photo courtesy: Ausveg

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RIRDC Rural Women's award Victorian finalist, Lisa Brassington, says there is a need for mental health first aid training in horticulture.

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A WORKSHOP presenter at the recent Women in Horticulture seminar held in Gippsland, Lisa Brassington, has her own experience in mental health first aid, to endorse the idea of a specific course in the horticulture industry in Gippsland and the Yarra Valley.

Ms Brassington is responsible for quality and land management at PenFresh Organics. She was also a Victorian finalist in the RIRDC Rural Women’s award.

She said she thinks the need for mental health first aid training arises because the horticulture industry needs diversity in leadership.

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“Horticulture leaders are commonly technically skilled and the value of leadership as a skill is quite high, because it’s based on motivation and respect,” Ms Brassington said.

She cited leadership was needed for implementing changes to the Horticulture Code and contracted staff management issues, as well as industry leadership that was often out of step with those owning and working on farms. 

“We need to ensure people have safe places to work and live. If you have emotional intelligence, you’ll realise this,” Ms Brassington said.

“Progressive workplaces have formal, non-judgemental places where employees can bring forward ideas and be listened to, whether you need that idea or not.

“Women are a mobile workforce – they’re prepared to move to another workplace rather than stay in an unwelcome or unsatisfactory or unsafe situation.

“How often do you see a woman working on the farm, because the farmer has had an accident?”

Last year, Dairy Australia invited Ms Brassington to participate in mental health first aid training.

“If you listen to individual’s ideas, you validate them in their role. - Lisa Brassington

“Doing this course is just brilliant. They break it down and make it relevant to the industry,” she said.

“If you recognise the conversation you’re having as a mental health rather than an agribusiness conversation, because you’ve had the mental health first aid training, it helps you recognise the symptoms. It’s a soft reach-out to someone.

“The training also helps you recognise the need for mental health time for yourself.”

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