The Role of Farming Families in Future Economic and Community Sustainability

By Connar McShane, Frances Quirk and Anne Swinbourne.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

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For the past 25 years the number of farming families in Australia has been in steady decline. This presents concerns for the sustainability of rural communities due to the significant role the farming industries have in local economic stimulation. Reducing the decline and stabilising the farming family population requires consideration of the health and well-being of this population. Participants (N=278) were recruited from across Australia and across different farming types to complete an online survey. Findings from K-Means Cluster analysis and Path Analysis suggest that the reasons people choose to continue farming act as a buffer for the unique challenges of the industry. Further, findings indicated that the work environment of the family farm had a significant impact on well-being. Outcomes included recommendations and strategies to improve health and well-being for farming families. As a result of these strategies, farming families may be retained in the industry, stabilising the population and improving the sustainability of rural communities.

Keywords: Resilience, Farming Families, Work-life Balance, Community-connectedness, Social Sustainability, Rural Health

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.111-133. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.262MB).

Connar McShane

PhD Candidate, Department of Psychology, School of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Education, and Social Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Connar McShane studied psychology and completed her PhD at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. Connar’s research focused on the well-being of farming families, particularly from an organisational and health psychology perspective.

Prof. Frances Quirk

School of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Dr. Anne Swinbourne

Department of Psychology, School of Arts and Social Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia