Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has welcomed the election of a national body to represent all 14 Rural Support Trusts across the country.
“Rural Support Trusts do fantastic work supporting our rural communities in tough times, and this new central body will make them more efficient and effective,” says Mr Guy.
“It will provide a single point of contact for other national organisations and the Government, and help the different regions share resources and experience.
“Rural Support Trusts operate independently in their areas, staffed by local people who really know their local communities.
“All Trusts have trained facilitators who can assist rural people with a range of issues. The facilitators are all local people who know the area and the farming or growing industries, and much of their work is helping sometimes isolated rural communities keep connected and build morale when the going is tough.
“The value of the Rural Support Trusts in times of adversity has been made very clear in the recent months with droughts across the country, the earthquake in Kaikoura, Marlborough and the Hurunui, and floods in the Bay of Plenty.
“The Trusts and National Council work closely with MPI, which provides partial funding along with their own fundraising work.”
In the last two years the Government has provided extra funding to Rural Support Trusts to improve access to mental health support in the rural community. Coordinators have been trained to recognise and manage signs of depression or extreme stress, and are connected to rural health professionals.
In its first meeting the National Council elected its first Chairperson, Waikato RST chair Neil Bateup, and Gavan Herlihy from Otago was appointed Vice Chairperson. The Rural Support National Council will be structured as a charitable trust responsible to the Trusts around the country.
About Rural Support Trusts
Rural Support Trusts provide free and confidential assistance to farmers and growers facing challenges; climate, financial or personal. They are well-placed to point people in the right direction for further advice and help.
Some Rural Support Trusts have been around since the 1980s to provide support on hardship or assistance in adverse events, such as the Otago RST. Others, like Taranaki, have been set up out of Federated Farmers. A number of Trusts, such as Northland, were formed or strengthened with (then) MAF’s assistance after the On-Farm Adverse Events Recovery Framework came into effect in 2007.
For further information on the Trusts visit: http://www.rural-support.org.n
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