Rural mental health ignored again this Budget

The Government was made well aware of mental health concerns for rural communities in a meeting in December last year, this Budget has neglected to do anything to address this crisis, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“It is dead clear from the minutes we received under the Official Information Act that everyone around the table could see that things were bad and getting worse” Kuriger says

“The minutes note that clear themes emerged from a discussion of the drivers of poor mental health, including: workforce shortages, public perception of farmers, and the pace of new regulations.

“If they didn’t already know, it is clear that in December the Prime Minister and Minister O'Connor knew what was happening to our rural communities and were asked by rural sector leaders for help, they’ve had all this time to make a plan but have still done nothing in this budget to address it.

“Although a mental health package was announced pre-Budget, the government is planning on wasting another six months to work out where support is needed. It should be obvious by now. Our rural communities are crying out.

“The Minister for Agriculture believes the Government has done all they can but they were far too slow to allow workers into the country when our borders shut, and they haven’t listened to an industry asking for the pace of new regulations to slow down.

“This Budget should have given urgent support to bolster our rural health workforce and addressed urgent gaps in mental health support and access to services. Instead we’ve got plans to spend another six months sitting around wondering who needs support, while our farmers and rural communities are ignored again.”