Thriving rural communities benefit all

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By Jo Luxton, Labour List MP

No matter where we live in New Zealand, we all know someone affected by mental health issues, suicide or addiction. Often this pain reverberates the furthest in our rural communities

By now, you’ve likely read and heard about the Wellbeing Budget, and seen how the Government is delivering on our plan to address long-term challenges.

Agriculture and rural communities play a big part in New Zealand’s wellbeing – it’s the engine room of our economy.

For communities like Timaru, and surrounding towns, to continue thriving, we need sustainable industry, and jobs for our young people.

Through the Wellbeing Budget this Government is supporting the agricultural sector with a $122 million injection over four years to support the on-farm changes required to use land more sustainably while growing productivity. This is part of our $229 million sustainable land use Budget package.

This is on top of the work we’ve undertaken to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis and protect our national herd – including fixing Nait. We’re also supporting farmers cleaning up our rivers and waterways, investing in R&D and we’ve introduced the Rural Proofing Policy which makes sure every government puts rural affairs at the heart of decision-making.

This Budget has presented the largest ever investment in mental health.

For every person who takes their own life, a whole community is shattered. For too long, we’ve tackled mental health or addiction only when it becomes a crisis.

No matter where we live in New Zealand, we all know someone affected by mental health issues, suicide or addiction. Often this pain reverberates the furthest in our rural communities.

People in Timaru are generally self-sufficient and resilient. This community pulls together and helps each other out. But we’ve long known that rural mental health deserves much greater attention and support.

That’s why you’ve seen the Government make the largest ever investment in mental health. This is a direct reflection of the crisis that our country, our communities and many of our people are in.

This new support means every New Zealander can access free and immediate help, when and where they need it.

We have our own set of challenges here in South Canterbury, particularly with M. bovis affecting so many farms in our region. Our farmers, mums, dads, children and friends need those supports in place.

New Zealanders have demanded action on mental health and this Government has delivered it.

Right now, if you’re struggling, the support you get varies depending on where you live. We believe that no matter where you are, help should be on hand. That’s why we’re rolling out free mental health, addiction and wellbeing support in every community over the next five years.

I am so proud to be part of a government that knows that the health of rural New Zealand plays a key part in the country’s wellbeing, and will continue to be for generations to come.

Thriving rural communities benefit all of us, no matter where we live.