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The week after St John held its annual appeal and called on the Government to fully fund the organisation, it’s ironic that it’s the Government who may end up axing funding for St John volunteers and placing its rural ambulance service at risk, National’s Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment spokesperson Shane Reti says.

“St John receives $1 million a year from the Industry Training Fund, which also funds Industry Training Organisations. The Industry Training Fund is at risk under the Government’s Reform of Vocational Education,” Dr Reti says.

“This $1 million is used to train rural and remote volunteers. St John is very concerned this funding will end under the tertiary education reforms.

“Remote and rural New Zealand relies heavily on the goodwill of volunteers, but this is at risk if St John cannot train volunteers.

“The Government’s tertiary education reforms will now reach even further into the rural sector by removing rural volunteer training. The Government is sending a bad signal for volunteering, a bad signal for the rural sector, and a bad signal for health in the regions.

“While the Government has spent many months consulting with polytechs, it has only dedicated a miserable seven weeks to consult with Industry Training Organisations and Private Training Establishments.

“National supports volunteers and the rural sector. The Government must ensure rural volunteer emergency services are maintained.”

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