2 May 2011

Strong communities can help farmers in stressful times

7:50 am on 2 May 2011

A rural support trust representative sees building stronger communities as an essential part of helping farming families through stressful times.

Dame Margaret Millard, who chairs the Manawatu Rangitikei Rural Family Support Trust, was commenting on a speech to Taranaki farmers by Chief Coroner Neil MacLean.

Mr MacLean was concerned at the higher than average rate of suicide among male farmers and hoped that releasing more information about those cases will help the rural community understand the causes and deal with them more effectively.

Dame Margaret says the rural support trusts are playing a crucial role in providing help for farmers in strife.

But she says strengthening rural communities is also important and that was highlighted after the devastating 2004 floods.

Dame Margaret says communities that were strong prior to the flooding bounced back better, despite the fact they sustained huge damage and losses.

She says community networks and infrastructures are important and the programme to upgrade internet access in rural areas will also help with that.