Student Profile: Methuen Morgan

Methuen MorganHometown: Condamine, Western Queensland Studying: PhD candidate

 

Methuen Morgan is a mature age student in the third year of his PhD candidature. He currently tutors in PSYCH315/515 Environmental Psychology, PSYCH202 Research Methods and Statistics, and lectures in this topic. He is the father of two young men – both studying at UNE – and a three year old daughter.

Methuen first studied at UNE in the early ‘80s. Despite being fully involved in the student life, playing all three codes of football, and enjoying the traditional college social life, he managed to complete his undergraduate degree in Financial Administration. For the next twenty years he worked in the cattle industry. While loving the farming lifestyle he found that he wanted a different challenge, and so with fond memories of his time in Armidale, he decided to follow his passion and returned to study Psychology at UNE in 2005.

While working part time, and running a “postage stamp” property he completed his Bachelor of Arts (Honours First Class) in 2010. If this wasn’t challenging enough his youngest child, Eilish was born in 2010. Despite a newborn in the house he was awarded the 2010 UNE Australian Psychology Prize for his thesis “Future Time, Environmental Attitudes and Behaviours within the Australian Rural Sector”. His thesis was based on a substantive survey of Australian farmers and looked at how a range of psycho-social variables including, environmental attitudes, time perspectives and self-efficacy impacted on their levels of engagement in sustainability of farming practices.

His current PhD thesis topic is “ Australian Farmers’ Responses to Coal Seam Gas Extraction Operations”. This study is looking at behavioural responses, coping style, resilience, and mental health outcomes of farmers dealing with CSG companies together with those farmers who aren’t. His thesis is attempting to develop cognitive profiles of Australian farmers. To do so, he has chosen to investigate farmers’ attitudes to chronic man-made stressors such as mining lease interactions which, he says, are not generally well understood.

Australian farmers are less than 2 % of the population, supply approximately 90% of the fresh food consumed in this country everyday and provide stewardship to approximately 60% of the Australian landmass. Contributing to and progressing the current understanding of the psycho-social issues impacting farmers’ well-being appears to Methuen to be an imperative task.

The issues associated with CSG industry share some similarities to other resource sectors such as the nuclear power industry in as much as it appears to polarise the communities affected. While some farmers appear quite happy to engage with the CSG operators others appear to be trenchantly opposed as a result of a range of concerns including but not limited to; water extraction/contamination, environmental destruction, farm productivity issues, privacy, impact on autonomy, and community adhesion. What has not been explored in any detail to date and what this study hopes to address is the mental health impacts on farmers who are confronting the possibility of CSG drilling operations and compare this then to the general farming community.

Methuen hopes that this study will provide the beginnings of a template on the impacts of chronic man-made stressors which may assist those concerned with the development and implementation of policy together with those delivering services to and representing the interests of rural Australia.

Methuen is evangelistic about rural men’s health and has been a speaker at several rural men’s mental health events, Tie up the black dog in Qld in 2010, and the 11th National Rural Health Conference in 2011. He has recently been invited to speak at the Rural and Remote Mental Health Conference later in 2013.

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