In full bloom

Tasmanian Country - - FRONT PAGE - ROGER HAN­SON

A TAS­MA­NIAN well­be­ing and sui­cide pre­ven­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion says it risks los­ing out­reach work­ers be­cause of a cut in Fed­eral fund­ing

Ru­ral Alive and Well chief ex­ec­u­tive Liz Lit­tle said be­cause of Com­mon­wealth and state fund­ing de­ci­sions, RAW cut 1.4 staff from its statewide out­reach pro­gram since July.

She said RAW faced mak­ing larger cuts in 2018 with fore­shad­owed com­plete with­drawal of fed­eral funds.

“It’s a ma­jor fund­ing prob­lem, we are se­ri­ously look­ing at los­ing more staff be­cause of it and at a time when out­reach is gravely needed,” she said.

She said RAW was head­ing to Can­berra on Oc­to­ber 25 to try to sal­vage fund­ing.

RAW’s pro­gram is avail­able 24 hours a day, seven days a week via a phone hot­line and a cri­sis call-out ser­vice.

RAW re­ceives $742,000 from the State Gov­ern­ment for out­reach ser­vices. Another 30 per cent of its fund­ing comes from Pri­mary Health Tas­ma­nia while pri­vate do­na­tions of $409,000 fund its pro­gram for healthy and re­silient com­mu­ni­ties

In 2015 RAW had 12 out­reach work­ers to cover the state. Now it has less than nine.

“This time next year we could be down to less than six and it could be the re­gions of Tas­man Penin­sula, Huon Val­ley and Der­went Val­ley hit the hard­est,” Ms Lit­tle said.

“The pro­gram is uniquely Tas­ma­nian. Our out­reach pro­gram works proac­tively to go where peo­ple live and work to pro­vide on­go­ing phys­i­cal and emo­tional sup­port.”

Ms Lit­tle said in 2015 RAW work­ers en­gaged with 31 clients at­tempt­ing sui­cide when the worker ar­rived or a sui­cide note had been writ­ten with means of sui­cide ac­ces­si­ble.

She said the cuts were a y con­cern at a time Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Sta­tis­tics fig­ures show Tas­ma­nia is the only state in Aus­tralia with an in­creas­ing sui­cide rate.

Tas­ma­nia’s sui­cide rate has risen by 25 per cent with an in­crease in deaths per 100,000 peo­ple from 13.5 in 2007 to 17.0 in 2016. The Aus­tralian na­tional av­er­age sui­cide rate is 11.7.

“These ap­palling fig­ures rep­re­sent a deep well of per­sonal men­tal an­guish and iso­la­tion in our com­mu­nity and un­quan­tifi­able per­sonal grief for as­so­ci­ated fam­ily mem­bers, friends and com­mu­ni­ties.”

Ms Lit­tle said RAW did not have a break­down of the sui­cide rate for ru­ral Tas­ma­nia.

She said RAW’s work was hav­ing an im­pact on re­duc­ing sui­cide in re­gional ar­eas. “The need is now,” she said. RAW’s helpline op­er­ates 24/7 on 1300 HELP MATE or 1300 4357 6283.

The weather is per­fect for cher­ries with cool nights and nice breaks of sun­shine TIM REID

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