In full bloom
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