How safe is my farm: Australian-first initiative to help keep Victorian farms safe and secure
A new online tool launched by Neighbourhood Watch is available for Victorian farmers to identify and take steps to help keep their farms safe from crime.
The variety of criminal offences farm owners face range from relatively minor crimes, such as smashed windows, or serious incidents such as having several hundred livestock stolen – costing tens of thousands of dollars.
Developed in consultation with Victoria Police and supported by RACV, How safe is my farm is a new, Australian-first online tool that helps get Victorian farmers reflect on the security of their property and identify ways of minimising their risks.
“How safe is my farm is an Australian-first tool that teaches farmers how to do the simple things to secure their properties,” says Bambi Gordon, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch Victoria.
“Back in the day, we left doors open and didn’t expect that we could be a victim. Times have changed. But on the upside, we know that theft is often opportunistic. If we can remove the opportunity, we can prevent crime from occurring.”
The free online tool asks a series of easy-to-answer questions about the farm set-up and security arrangements. The tool then presents users with a personalised report on their farm’s safety.
During 2022, more than 2,000 criminal offences were committed on Victorian farms according to the Victorian Crime Statistics Agency.
Dr Alistair Harkess, Co-Director of the Centre for Rural Criminology at the University of New England says that farm crime can have marked impacts on rural communities.
“It can be costly, disruptive and mentally straining so the best way to avoid becoming a victim of farm crime is to do whatever possible to prevent offending from happening in the first place,” he says.
“That’s why the innovative How safe is my farm tool from Neighbourhood Watch is invaluable. It lets farmers conduct an audit to see where vulnerabilities might exist and to think carefully about what crime prevention measures might be implemented to improve safety and security.”