Around 20 children under 15 years are fatally injured on an Australian farm every year and many more are hospitalised or treated by General Practitioners across rural Australia. The major causes of child deaths and injuries on farms are dams, farm vehicles, machinery, motorcycles and horses. Age and development characteristics also place children at greater risk.
A recent study of on-farm fatalities from 2001-2004 by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety found that:
The main agents of fatality and serious injury are:
There has been an improvement in the reduction of toddler drowning on farms in recent years – particularly a reduction of drowning in dams, which have halved since the 1990s. However, drowning is still the number one cause of child farm fatality in Australia.
A common scenario is that a toddler wanders away from the home un-noticed into farm water bodies or toward other farm hazards (vehicles, mobile machinery). Apart from dams, children can find their way into creeks, troughs, dips and irrigation channels. Children under five years of age are at greatest risk.
For non-fatal injury of children on farms, older children (5 - 14 yrs) figure more prominently - particularly in relation to injury from 2 and 4 wheeled motorbikes (and horses). Whilst there tends to be more hospital Emergency Department presentations for 2-wheeled motorbikes, injuries from quad bikes are likely to be more severe or fatal. There are four times as many children being killed riding quad bikes than 2 wheel motorbikes on farms
The RIPPER II initiative lies within the education component of Farmsafe Australia’s Child Safety on Farms Program.
Ripper II - Growing kids on farms is an education resource for primary schools, providing teachers with evidence-based safety content and learning activities linked to the primary school curriculum of every Australian state and territory.
RIPPER II aims to provide teachers with ideas and resources to focus on / promote reputable farm safety content aligned the curricula, within the context of learning about farm life and farm environments. In particular, the resource provides teachers with: A background section highlighting evidence-base on injury causes and recommended interventions for child safety on farms.
Thanks to this latest sponsorship by Cargill for a revised 2008 edition, we are continuing toward our objective for every teacher to have knowledge of and ready access to this important farm safety education resource. We hope teachers, parents and other educators alike, will find the resource helpful in teaching primary age children about farms and farm safety.
RIPPER II: Growing Kids on Farms can downloaded (*8MB) or a hardcopy is available by contacting the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety on 02 6752 8210 or at