Making More from Sheep Australian Wool Innovation Limited Meat & Livestock Australia
MODULE 1: Plan for Success
Tool 1.5
Previous Index Next

When trying to include the whole family in a project (such as developing a vision for how the farm could look in 10 years), it can be hard to get everyone to contribute equally. If some family members are living away from the farm it can be hard to get everyone together. It can be especially difficult to get effective input from those with the least say in the day to day running of the farm or at the bottom of the ‘pecking order’ within the farm and family. Often this will be the children, even though they may have the biggest stake in the future of the farm. At other times it might be partners or adult children not living/working on the farm.

Photo Voice is an ideal tool to give everyone an equal input to the farm vision. When used by a farm family, it is simply a fun technique to assist everyone who is old enough to hold a camera (or to instruct someone to hold it for them) to ‘put their cards on the table.’

Using Photo Voice to help develop a vision for the farm

To use Photo Voice to develop the vision for the farm’s future:

1.  Discuss the process and make sure everyone is clear on the three simple rules:

a   Determining a theme for the photos

b   Everyone agreeing to take photos and talk about them at a future meeting

c   Setting the meeting date.

2.  Take the photos and get them developed if using film. For digital photos, putting them on the computer (or even better, the TV) can be an alternative to printing.

3.  Meet with everyone to talk about your photos and discuss what they might mean for your family’s plans to shape the future of the farm.

Like all things, practice makes perfect. Rather than trying to cover all the issues relating to the future of the farm in one go, it’s often best to start simply and get everyone comfortable with the concept. A good first ‘project’ might be to get everyone to take a photo of their favourite place on the farm and to talk about why it is their favourite. After the ‘safety’ of a non-judgemental concept like ‘favourite place’, the family group might be ready to branch out, and have individuals take photos of what they would like to see less or more of on the farm –see tool 1.4.

Photo Voice stresses the importance of getting the prior commitment of key decision makers to at least consider proposals for change. On the farm, this simply means making sure that it is clear that everyone will participate, and all Photo Voice contributions will be considered in the eventual plan to shape the farm’s future.

Photo Voice has been used very successfully in the wool industry. The Land Water & Wool program used Photo Voice to explore natural resource management issues on wool producing farms in the Traprock region of southern Queensland.

For more background about the technique and the theory search the internet for photovoice to find a range of sites.