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. As a society, we’ve left too many of our people on their own, coping with mental distress or struggling with drugs and alcohol. No matter where we live in New Zealand, we all know someone affected by mental health issues, suicide or addiction. As our prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said in her Wellbeing Budget speech: “There’s no degree of separation when it comes to these issues.”
Often this pain reverberates the furthest in our rural communities. People in Rodney are self-sufficient and resilient, but we’ve long known that rural mental health deserves much greater attention and support. That’s why this month you saw the Government make the largest ever investment in mental health. 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. A part of this is funding for digital and tele-health services – which will make a real difference in rural communities. This is about making support immediately available with an internet or phone connection, no matter how
isolated you are.
We understand that while taking mental health seriously is an important step, wellbeing is about more than just access to services. For communities like Warkworth or Wellsford to thrive, we need sustainable industry and jobs for our young people. Under Labour, unemployment is down to its second lowest level in a decade and wages are rising across New Zealand. We’re bringing jobs back to the regions through investment in industry, as well as through programmes that help young people who are not in education, training or employment, get into work.
Agriculture plays a big part in New Zealand’s wellbeing – when rural communities thrive, New Zealand thrives. This Government is supporting the sector with a $122 million investment 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 M. bovis – including fixing National Animal Identification and Tracing (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 department puts rural affairs at the heart of decision making. This Government is thinking long-term. We’re looking beyond the three-year electoral cycle and investing in fixing the long-term challenges for our communities.
I will be out and about in the electorate over the next few weeks and you can catch me at my regular walk-in clinic at the Warkworth Markets or at my office, which is now open in Albany.
Marja Lubeck, Rodney-based MP