Cuts put RAW work at risk
A TASMANIAN wellbeing and suicide-prevention organisation working in the Derwent Valley risks losing outreach workers because of a cut in federal funding.
Rural Alive and Well chief executive Liz Little said because of federal and state funding decisions, RAW had cut 1.4 staff from its statewide suicide-prevention outreach program since July.
She said it faced making bigger cuts to services next year with the foreshadowed withdrawal of Commonwealth funds.
“It’s a major funding problem. We are looking at losing more staff because of it and at a time when outreach is gravely needed,” Ms Little said.
“We are heading to Canberra on October 25 to try to salvage our funding.”
RAW receives $742,000 from the State Government to fund 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. It now has fewer than nine.
“This time next year we could be down to less than six and it could be the regions of the Tasman Peninsula, Huon Valley and Derwent Valley hit the hardest,” Ms Little said
Lyons Labor MP Brian Mitchell said the Derwent Valley could not afford to lose an outreach worker.
“It is intolerable that an identified high-risk area like the Derwent Valley could lose this vital suicide-prevention service because of federal funding cuts,” Mr Mitchell said.
Greens Lyons candidate Fraser Brindley said the issue was “a matter of life and death for rural Tasmanians”.
“RAW’s services are critical in more isolated places like the Derwent Valley and the Tasman Peninsula where people aren’t always able to get to services in town when they need them,” Mr Brindley said.
Tasmanian Liberal Senator Jonathon Duniam said the Federal Government had guaranteed long-term funding for mental health services in Tasmania.
“Primary Health Tasmania has extended the funding of RAW to 30 June 2018, to allow for Primary Health Tasmania to undertake a comprehensive needs assessment and stakeholder consultation ahead of a tender process for suicide prevention services to occur in 2018,” Senator Duniam said.
RAW’s program is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via a phone hotline and a crisis call-out service.
RAW’s helpline operates 24 hours a day, every day of the week on 1300 4357 6283.