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Taking physio to rural Tasmania

Tasmania’s physiotherapists went to the people again this year with a pop-up clinic at the annual Agfest, at Carrick, in the state’s north.

The agricultural field day has been a popular community event since 1983 and attracts more than 60 000 people annually. It started as a festival to showcase the state’s agricultural industry and has since grown to promote innovation and highlight how rural activities influence every person within a community.

For Maree, Agfest is the ideal event to promote the APA as a leader in health prevention, as well as an advocate of healthy living within communities. A regular event on farmers’ calendars, Agfest is also a chance for city people to gain insight to rural life, with a range of farm machinery, new technology and leisure items to highlight life on the land on display.

Maree emphasises that being within reach of such a diverse crowd is an ideal opportunity to showcase how physiotherapy can be incorporated into everyday activities and how practitioners are a valuable community resource. Attendance also aligns branch activities with APA’s strategic pillars of voice and community, she says.

Nine volunteers, including Maree, Anne Taylor, and APA members Emma King, Lisa Banfield, Alani Helbig, Paul Laidlaw, Grace Pitts, Libby Cohen and Sheree Hazlitt, spent the three days at Agfest providing information and giving practical demonstrations on manual handling, falls prevention, women’s health, farm safety, musculoskeletal issues and arthritis care.

The group completed about 185 individual consultations, of up to 10 minutes each, with information on physiotherapy practices shared with visitors. Many school children also visited the booth and were engaged in discussions on carrying backpacks, exercise and computer posture.

‘Physiotherapists are really good at listening and engaging with people,’ Maree says. ‘Our strategy was to engage in conversation and then lead into lifestyle and wellness and talk about how physiotherapy can work in their life to keep them moving and active.’

Being within reach of such a diverse crowd is an ideal opportunity to showcase how physiotherapy can be incorporated into everyday activities.

Maree highlights the importance of talking to farmers and their families about health and safety. Work, health and safety checklists on using machinery and preventative injury information were also shared at the event.

The reach of audience at Agfest was invaluable for achieving APA’s efforts in engagement, Maree says, with a wide range of ages and industry backgrounds attending. The volunteers were able to present the association as multifaceted and in touch with the community.

‘There were many opportunities to inform people who might not necessarily get into the big cities and are not aware of all the different kinds of physiotherapy that are available,’ Maree says. ‘When I heard about the strategic plan and voice aspect, I thought “Where else in Tasmania are we going to have access to 60 to 70 000 people?”’

‘It’s a lot of hard work. So, I want to acknowledge the small band of really committed people who assisted us.’

Those involved in the event have taken away key learnings for planning future events and are keen to help other branches plan similar events within their communities, Maree notes.


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   Taking physio to rural Tasmania
  Nine members of the TAS Branch set up a pop-up clinic at the state’s premier agricultural event, Agfest, to engage with and inform the public on the benefits of physiotherapy.
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