Child Safety On Farms


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:

  • Children (0-14yrs) make up 15-20% of farm injury deaths, around 66% are male.

The main agents of fatality and serious injury are:

  1. Drowning in dams (mostly under five year olds)
  2. Quad Bikes or 4 wheeled motorbikes, and
  3. Farm vehicles (cars, utes)
  4. Around 25% of all child deaths were visitors to the farm, but for quad bikes, around 50% are visitors.
  5. Drowning accounts for around 35-40% on child farm deaths, with farm dams being by far the most common site.

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.

  • State curriculum links from school entry to upper primary school levels (current April 2008)
  • Units of work and activity sheets
  • A ‘Story Book’, take home resources and CD with images files
  • With the support the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing and Cargill Australia, the RIPPER II resource was first released in August 2005. Since then, over 2,000 resource folders and nearly 4,000 CD versions of the resource have been distributed to primary schools all over rural Australia.

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 aghealth[at]health[dot]usyd[dot]edu[dot]au