Quality time with family and friends with a glass of wine firmly in one hand is one way to make Jane Grace happy. Born and raised in rural England, an extensive world traveller who has called Mid Canterbury home for the last 14 years, Jane lives and breathes the creation of safe work environments for others. The proud co-owner of Core Health and Safety, a mother of two and annual half-marathon runner, Jane is determined to make a difference in the rural sector by helping them adopt safe work practices that make it easier for farmers to get the job done – reducing their stress levels and becoming a valuable part of their team.

When asked what concerned Jane about the health, safety and wellbeing of those in rural industries and communities, she detailed how the negative stigma associated with work health and safety often means that it’s wrongly interpreted as the need for ‘compliance’ as opposed to simply demonstrating care for people. From a safety practitioner’s point of view, when it comes to driving engagement with health and safety she says it’s important to understand and appreciate the sector’s workflow and know when an incredibly busy or demanding period is coming up on the farm before having the conversation. Reinforcing the importance of checking in on people and offering extra support, she says a simple text or quick phone call is all it takes to make a difference. Praising initiatives such as the Farmers First Health Check Programme that takes free health checks to farmers across the country, Jane knows how proactively addressing those who rarely act on their physical health, could help to save a life.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Talkative, curious and passionate.

Tell us something interesting about yourself...

I grew up in rural England, and after travelling extensively with my husband (pre-kids!), we decided to emigrate. Having spent a year in Australia, a year in New Zealand in addition to owning a house in rural France meant it was difficult to work out where! The place that won our hearts was Mid Canterbury and so we brought our one year old son Noa to Methven and it’s been our home now for 14 years. During this time Lily was born and I’ve learnt to ski (badly) and aim to run a half marathon annually – the St Clair at Blenheim is my favourite!

What achievements are you most proud of?

Setting up our company to make a difference to the rural sectors and to change the conversation about health and safety away from compliance, and towards culture and care.

What makes you truly happy?

Making it easier for farmers and growers to get the job done, reducing their stress levels and being part of their team! I also love spending quality time with family and friends enjoying a wine!

What do you love the most about being a rural woman?

The community connection, seeing how everyone supports each other in times of need and celebrates each other’s successes! It really is evident here in New Zealand that it takes a village to raise a child.

Tell us about a time when you felt worried about your own or someone else’s health, safety or wellbeing.

‘That look’ on a person’s face where you can see the stress, the heightened blood pressure and know that you simply have to intervene. Having the strength to start the conversation –knowing that they may find it difficult to talk, but reinforcing that it’s ok for them to say they’re not ok.

What practical things did - or could - you or someone else do to prevent yourself or someone else from getting hurt?

It’s great to see initiatives like Craig Wiggins’ ‘The Glob’ Farmers First Health Check Programme, where he has taken a caravan and turned it into a mobile health clinic. With the help of a doctor, he offers free health checks and travels around the country with the caravan, taking it to places like rural sale yards and farmer events. Farmers’ physical health is talked about and rarely acted upon as life gets so busy on the farm, so by taking the clinic to the likes of the farmers, agents and rural professionals, it’s helping to proactively identify any potential health issues.

"Keep your focus, be supportive of each other, reach out through our amazing networks and together we can make positive changes and keep all our families safe and healthy!"

Is there a time, place or scenario when your partner or those you work or spend time with are more willing to make changes to the way the work is done, or are more open to making safer, healthier choices?

I find that understanding the sector’s workflow is so important, if you don’t and you’re trying to get engagement to make a change – it simply won’t happen! When you know that an incredibly busy and demanding work period is coming up, have a chat beforehand to offer extra support and check in during this time, even if it’s just a quick call or text.

If you could give any advice to another rural woman about health, safety and/or wellbeing in rural industries and communities, about influencing change in business - or just in general - what would it be?

Keep your focus, be supportive of each other, reach out through our amazing networks and together we can make positive changes and keep all our families safe and healthy!

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