The Rural Safety and Health Alliance (RSHA) is a new partnership to improve primary production’s health and safety record focused on incorporating innovative research and extension.

The RSHA will invest in practical research, development and extension (RD&E) solutions informed by industry input on work, health and safety risks.

Key features of the alliance include setting clear priorities to better target research, development and extension, strengthening industry leadership and developing a ‘shark tank’ funding model, where applicants work together to pitch projects for funding.

The case for change

There is an enormous social, emotional and economic toll to workplace death and injury so the alliance is focused on giving farmers and fishers the tools to create safer working environments for themselves, their workers and their families.

There are so many great opportunities in Australia’s primary industries and that we are currently experiencing a skills shortage, so cannot let the industry’s work health and safety record be the reason why more people don't enter the industry.

Many other industries have shown a positive association between improved work health and safety and better business outcomes, like productivity, staff retention, and quality. We see a significant positive upside to improving health and safety as well as reducing negative outcomes.

Complex challenges require new approaches

RSHA Chair Patrick Murphy says the initiative will generate new levels of collaboration and best target resources to address what ‘good’ health and safety looks like in theory and in practice.

“Through this partnership, the RDCs are leading in this area and we will be seeking to leverage their funding and leadership to gain support from public and private organisations. From start-ups through to experienced extension providers, we are wanting new, innovative and creative ways to develop practical solutions and eliminate duplication,” he said.

“The difference between the RSHA and earlier efforts is the research-focused agenda and its competitive funding model which will generate accountability to ensure RD&E investments deliver a return on value and translate into practical improvements for producers and the entire primary production system.”

Alliance Partners

The Rural Safety and Health Alliance is supported jointly by AgriFutures Australia, Australian Eggs, Australian Pork, Australian Wool Innovation, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Dairy Australia, Fisheries Research & Development Corporation, Grains Research & Development Corporation and Meat & Livestock Australia.

About the Chair - Patrick Murphy

Patrick has over 17 years experience leading health and safety change across the retail, construction and mining industries, as well as serving in the public sector at senior advisory levels within the Queensland State Government.

As the Head of Health and Safety at Origin Energy, Patrick is not content with influencing change in just one organisation, holding multiple Board appointments.  He is the current Chair of the Safety Institute of Australia, a board member of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, serves on the industry advisory panel at Queensland University of Technology, and former director of Kidsafe Queensland.  Patrick has also lectured and tutored at Queensland Universities and he holds a PhD from the University of Queensland.

Patrick brings together his passion for the health and safety of people, and his love of agriculture, as the Chair of the Rural Safety and Health Alliance.  He owns a small beef cattle operation in South-East Queensland.

About the Executive Officer - Andrew Barrett

Andrew is a well known leader within the health and safety space, having worked for over 14 years with the intent to make working lives safer and healthier.  Tertiary qualified in health and safety at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, Andrew bridges the gap between what health and safety theoretically looks like, and what it is in practice.  

With strong leadership skills and a track record of large health and safety change management in companies like NBN, Andrew is also an entrepreneur and innovator of products and services in leadership and capability development.  He is known as a connector of ideas and people.

Andrew is a sought-after international speaker, globally acclaimed podcast host, and is trusted by some of Australia’s largest and highest risk companies to provide strategic advice and support the development of effective health and safety leadership capabilities.  He has worked across industries with organisations including ARTC, Endeavour Energy, Queensland Urban Utilities, NSW Department of Commerce, Barrack Gold, Deloitte, and the South Australian Government.

Andrew is passionately connected with his extended families agricultural and fishing operations, spanning wine grapes, beef, broadacre grains & hay, cray, crab & oysters, sheep meat and wool.  He lives in regional South Australia with his wife and six kids. 

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