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Rural Sector highlights health issues

28 June 2005

Rural Sector highlights health and community safety issues

Retaining vital health services and increasing community safety are the biggest health and safety issues facing rural New Zealand, according to the councils that attended a Rural Health and Community Safety Forum in Wellington yesterday.

“The Forum was an opportunity for councils and central government representatives to come together to discuss a number of health and community safety concerns held by rural councils and their communities,” says John Forbes, Local Government New Zealand, National Councillor.

“Rural communities face some unique issues. Many of our rural centres have had problems attracting health professionals to their local areas and keeping them. At yesterday’s Forum we acknowledged that councils have a role to play by promoting the benefits of a rural lifestyle, living in a close knit community and providing support networks. Councils can also play a role in crime prevention by working with their communities and community organisations on initiatives to prevent crime and violence.

“Unfortunately there is no quick fix to these problems. Councils have to work with their communities and community organisations to find local solutions for local issues. Our councils agree a holistic approach is needed for each individual community. There is no single solution, no ‘one size fits all’ answer for all rural communities,” says Mr Forbes.

“The Government recognises that rural communities deserve access to quality healthcare and health and safety initiatives. Rural communities are grateful for the extra funding they have received in the past to help boost healthcare services and basic infrastructure needs to make up for the shortfall from low rating bases. It is now a matter of putting programmes in place to support these initiatives.”

Councils are involved in a number of initiatives, such as the National Taskforce for the Reduction of Community Violence. The introduction of Primary Health Organisations has also given communities and councils the opportunity to have a say in community healthcare.

The Rural Health and Safety Forum brought central and local government representatives together to share examples of best practice and discuss shared concerns.

The following councils took part in yesterday’s workshop:

Far North District Council, Manukau City Council, Hauraki District Council, Waitomo District Council, South Waikato District Council, Matamata-Piako District Council, Opotiki District Council, Taupo District Council, Stratford District Council, South Taranaki District Council, Ruapehu District Council, Rangitikei District Council, Manawatu District Council, South Wairarapa District Council, Carterton District Council, Tararua District Council, Buller District Council, Banks Peninsula District Council, Ashburton District Council, Selwyn, Hurunui District Council, Waimakariri District Council, Gore District Council, and Southland District Council.


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