Outcomes should be rural proofed, RWNZ says

Fiona Gower
Fiona Gower
Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) would like to see any outcomes of the Government's mental health and addiction inquiry report, which was released last week, ''rural proofed'', national president Fiona Gower says.

''Quite a few of our members went to workshops held around the country to ensure we had coverage,'' Mrs Gower said.

''We wanted to make sure the rural message was heard loud and clear.

''New Zealand's rural communities are suffering more than most from the lack of access to mental health and addiction services, which the report does not address.

''RWNZ lodged a submission to the mental health and addiction inquiry and while some of our concerns are noted in the body of the report, there are no recommendations that will alleviate our concerns.

''After all, the the rural population is a big chunk of New Zealand's population, but it is spread out so there is not quite got the impact.''

She was worried about centralised services and long waiting lists.

''For people to take time off work to travel [some distance] to get to a service is quite a concern.''

She said that it could be difficult for a farmer or farm worker to do so, especially during busy times of the year.

''Rural communities are special places to live and we realise there are special stresses, which can impact at different times of the year.

''A far better solution is to train those living and working in rural communities to identify and support those suffering, as well as education and support programmes to lower the incidence of mental illness, suicides and family violence.''

She said it was important to ensure the right services were available for people to reach out to.

Telehealth services would be useful in rural communities. although reliable connectivity was not always available.

RWNZ would like to see any policies or recommendations to be introduced, to have a rural impact analysis run over them.

''[The report] has a great list of recommendations and so they must make sure they are rural proofed.''


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