Making More from Sheep Australian Wool Innovation Limited Meat & Livestock Australia
MODULE 4: Capable and Confident Producers
Procedure 4.5
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Farm families who live and work on the farm face a particular challenge when it comes to finding and maintaining a comfortable balance between work, family and leisure time.

The different roles in life and the feeling of being pulled in multiple directions at once can build tension and create stress. This stress can harm your health, your relationships and impair your ability to make decisions. It makes sense to examine these roles and the causes of any stress and to plan to do something about it.

Achieving a satisfactory work–life balance is quite a challenge, but an achievable goal. This procedure is about helping the people in your business and finding a satisfactory work–life balance to reduce stress and combat the depression that potentially results from long-term and continuous hard work.

At a Glance
pt Work towards a work–life balance that suits your business and family interests and minimises tensions between the two

pt Make your farm a safe place to live and work

Key decisions, critical actions and benchmarks

Guidelines for a more balanced lifestyle

Most of us have five key areas in our lives that need balancing:

  • Work: meaningful work (paid or unpaid) is fundamental to our quality of life. It is how we sustain ourselves and our families and how many of us express ourselves.
  • Family: family is fundamental to our personal happiness and to a regenerating, healthy community. The most important ‘success’ is accomplishment in our personal lives. Making things better for current and future generations is the way we contribute to society as a whole.
  • Self: your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental wellbeing are key factors in maintaining a healthy work– life balance. Farming men, in particular, often neglect this part of the balance.
  • Time: when stretched for time, it is our priorities and what we do (or don’t do) each day that determine our quality of life.
  • Money: money is integral to almost every issue involving the relationship between work, family, self and time. Does your business have the capacity to create the income you need to live a more balanced lifestyle?

Source: Adapted from Life Matters by Roger and Rebecca Merril, 2003

Complete the exercise on work–life balance in tool 4.6 to identify what is going well’ and to identify areas for improvement and action. Record some notes for future reference, either on your own or in conjunction with other members of your business team. The steps are:

  • Identify the areas in your work and family life that are going well, and the ones to which you would like to devote more time.
  • Determine whether the business is capable of producing the financial returns you need.
  • Identify the stresses in your life (that are under your control), and what can be done to relieve them.


A safer farm environment

Sheep and wool enterprises are largely farm family businesses. While larger farms employ full time workers, many are run with family labour, most employing shearing contractors for wool harvesting.

An important part of managing your farm is to ensure the health and safety of your employees and other people, such as customers, visitors or tradespeople who visit your workplace. In fact, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 requires you to ensure your workplace is safe. To ensure you fulfil your obligation for a safe workplace, you need to become aware of what can cause harm and then take action to ensure no one is at risk while they are in your workplace.

The “15-minute farm safety check” (see signposts) will help you evaluate how well you are currently managing safety on your farm. Other key information sources are listed in the signposts section of this module.

The key responsibility for farm safety rests primarily with individual sheep producers, their families and workers.

Signposts Signposts


Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Stephen Covey (Simon and Schuster:UK).

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. Stephen Covey (Simon and Schuster: UK).

Managing as a Performing Art. Peter Vaill (Jossey-Bass: San Francisco).

Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson (Putnam and Sons: USA).

The Barefoot Investor. Scott Pape (Australia).

The Cashflow Quadrant Robert Kiyosaki (Techpress Inc: USA).

Life Matters Roger and Rebecca Merrill (McGraw Hill: New York).

A Guide to Succession – sustaining families and farms: includes case studies and covers ‘front-end’ options when people are entering a business, either through invitation or marriage, and ‘back-end’ options when they are leaving. Download a copy at the following link: , or order a hard copy by calling:

  • AWI on 1800 070 099
  • GRDC on 1800 11 00 44


ABC men’s health library: good health underpins many of our personal and business aspirations. This library contains articles and links to more specific websites - there is even an article titled ‘How To Outlive The Missus’. Visit:

E-myth: a web site for people interested in learning more about working on the business (WOTB) and working in the business (WITB). Visit:

Shearing Shed Safety sinage kit: Developed and produced by the WA Shearing Industry Association (WASIA) with support from AWI, the kit meets legislative requirements in all states. Visit: and scroll down to Shed Safety Signage kit.

Safe Work Australia: for OH&S standards, codes of practice and related guidelines, visit:

drumMUSTER: drumMUSTER provides Australian agricultural and veterinary chemical users with a recycling pathway for eligible agvet chemical containers. Call them on 1800 008 707 or visit the website at:

15 minute farm safety check: help to quickly check your farm for hazards and risks. It is not designed to cover all of the hazards and risks on the farm but to help you identify and control those hazards and risks that may cause an injury or death to yourself, your family, friends or employees. Download here.

Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety: on-farm resources available to download from include:

  • Hazard checklists and action plans
  • Induction forms
  • Injury register
  • Training register
  • Guidelines
  • Practical videos

AWI Shearing Shed Guidelines provides information about shed design so sheep producers and shed builders can make informed decisions about building or renovating a shed. The guidelines include information about design elements, dimensions, technology and key issues such as productivity and occupational health and safety:

Local Rural Financial Counsellors can help you:

  • Identify financial and business options for your enterprise
  • Find private training and agricultural service providers across Australia who deliver training courses and offer advice on the incorporation of new technologies or new enterprises into farming businesses.

Find your local Rural Financial Counsellor by calling 1800 686 175 or visiting the website:

Australian Association of Agricultural Consultants (AAAC) – to find accredited consultants and advisers in agri-industry and allied natural resource areas that meet the Specialist Consultant Standards for entry into the AAAC Register: go to and click on the Agricultural Consultants Register.

Australian Association of Agricultural Consultants WA - search this site for consultants and advisors in WA.

People in Agriculture - search this site for information on employment law, news, career management and professional practice.


The MLA EDGEnetwork® program is nationally coordinated and has a range of courses for sheep producers. Contact can be made via: