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Changing face of farming is analysed

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Much of rural Australia today is grappling with the challenge of reinvention in the face of declining farm numbers, the exodus of rural youth and “tree change” migration from the city. One of Australia’s leading demographers in rural population change has written a book which explains the transformation of rural Australia.

Dr Neil Barr, social researcher and leader of the Rural Social Research Team with the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, was awarded a Land & Water Australia Senior Research Fellowship which enabled him to write The House on the Hill: the transformation of Australia’s farming communities.

Over his years as a social researcher, Dr Barr found himself continually returning to the pressure-filled situation farming families face, and to the questions rural communities asked him in trying to understand and manage change in their communities.

Why are some small country towns dying and others thriving? Will the corporate farm supersede the family farm? Why are land values so high? How do we shape the countryside and its environment by what we choose in the supermarket?

From once seeing these requests as an interruption to work, I am now seeing them as the reason for my career,” said Dr Barr, who has a farming family background spanning five generations.

I am spending more and more time meeting with rural communities to discuss these issues. There is a thirst for understanding of what is happening, and their questions increasingly set my research agenda. I am learning as much from the rural community as they learn from me. The Land & Water Australia fellowship was a wonderful and rare opportunity to share our insights and understandings with a wider rural audience.”

The book is the culmination of 30 years of pondering over the joy, the despair and the paradoxes of farming life. It is both an examination of the many dimensions of the demographic changes occurring in rural Australia, and a readable story.

Many of our best scientific brains spend too much of their time on tasks other than research: administration, writing research proposals, wrestling with budgets,” said Mrs Bobbie Brazil, Chairman of Land & Water Australia.

The Senior Research Fellowships give them the chance to focus on their work, relying on the generous support of their employer – in this case the Victorian Department of Primary Industries. Most Senior Research Fellows end by producing a publication, representing leading-edge thinking in their respective fields. Dr Barr’s publication is no exception.”

Dr Barr’s The House on the Hill: the transformation of Australia’s farming communities was launched in Melbourne today.

Contact:         Kerryn Molloy                                                            0428 115 598

                        Knowledge Broker, Innovation Program


Citation

Land & Water Australia. 2009. Changing face of farming is analysed. [Online] (Updated May 21st, 2009)
Available at: http://lwa.gov.au/node/3411 [Accessed Thursday 24th of October 2013 05:10:18 AM ].

id: 3411 / created: 21 May, 2009 / last updated: 21 May, 2009