Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) says rural communities are being ignored as Kiwibank moves to close five banks in regional areas.
These demands were made in the lobby group’s recently launched election manifesto.
“The general election season is a perfect time for us to share the challenges we see and what actions we recommend any government should take in order to empower rural communities,” RWNZ president Fiona Gower says.
She believes that the social, cultural, environmental and economic success of New Zealand should be reflected in rural communities.
“All candidates need to show a commitment to ensuring that rural communities have equal access to technology, education and health services,” Gower adds.
“It is vital that all rural communities feel safe and secure on the roads, in their homes and around their properties and RWNZ would like to see clear action on this.”
Gower says RWNZ has always actively worked with decision-makers in advocating for rural communities.
“We are asking that this year’s candidates consider our strategy for building resilient rural communities and assessing policy impacts, as part of their work in Parliament, should they be elected.”
RWNZ wants the new government to commit to five areas of action:
❱❱ Health and Wellbeing
• Invest in and maintain access to excellent healthcare for rural communities.
• Establish and maintain network connectivity in rural areas to provide greater digital access to health and wellbeing services.
• Provide increased resources to improve access for rural New Zealanders to education on, treatment of and support for mental health, drug and alcohol abuse and wellbeing services.
• Ensure rural mothers and their babies receive the best maternity care possible.
• Improve accessibility to localised treatment options (such as screening and diagnostics) in rural New Zealand.
❱❱ Rural Connectivity
• Provision of nationwide access to affordable, quality connectivity.
• Share information on ways to increase rural connectivity and regular, progress reports on the rural connectivity roll-out.
• Support research into ways to provide quality, affordable connectivity to rural and remote areas.
• Ensure that economic, environmental and sustainable land use decisions are made in partnership with landowners, land users and rural communities.
• Support the research and development of more sustainable primary industry practices and products.
• Improve domestic, national and international biosecurity protocols.
• Develop strategies for effective water storage and supply systems.
• Develop funding programmes to support rural communities to make any changes needed to mitigate climate change.
• Ensuring that adequate rural consultation is undertaken during the development of education policies, procedures and legislation.
• Formulate strategies to develop and retain a skilled and multidiscipline rural education workforce.
• Secure adequate resources to ensure that rural communities have effective access to all education.
• Support rural schools access to services.
❱❱ Safety and security
• Improve the quality, maintenance and safety of rural roads.
• Enforce slower speed limits in rural school zones.
• Fully resource agencies and communities to reduce violence against women and children in rural communities.
• Increase policing in rural areas.
• Develop and improve workplace safety and awareness.