A release of official documents confirms the Ardern-Peters Government does not consider further research into farmer suicide to be a high priority, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“Documents relating to a funding application for Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) show how officials successfully persuaded the Minister of Health David Clark and the Minister for Primary Industries Damien O’Connor that further investment into farm related suicide research is not a priority at this stage,” Dr Reti says.
"This astounding admission continues the Government’s dismissive attitude towards rural mental health – further compounded by the refusal to commit to a school of rural health.
"A statement like this in the context of the current Mycoplasma Bovis incursion defies belief. That the Government would pull funding and deprioritise farmer suicide research at this time is shocking.
“It's all very well to hold a general inquiry into mental health, but the rural community has specific needs now – and RHAANZ was geared up to deliver to those needs.
“RHAANZ is an organisation that stood up and delivered support when the GFC hurt rural communities. The documents show that the ministries of Health and Primary Industries ‘value RHAANZ as an important member of the rural health sector and value their contribution’ and yet that hasn't stopped the Ministers from withdrawing sustainable funding.
“In response to this decision, former Dairy Woman of the Year and Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger has launched a petition seeking public support to save rural healthcare services https://barbarakuriger.national.org.nz/save_our_rural_healthcare_services
"Ask the public what is more important – $1 billion to go towards foreign affairs and diplomats or research into farmer suicide – I’m pretty certain the Government will know the answer so I urge it to do the right thing and step up and make rural mental health a priority during this critical time,” Dr Reti says.