Senate backs action on rural suicide, despite Nationals opposition
The Senate has called on the Government to fund targeted suicide prevention measures in rural and regional areas, backing a motion by Australian Greens spokesperson on mental health Senator Penny Wright.
However, the National Party voted against the motion - despite making an identical election promise last year.
Senator Wright said enthusiasm about the cross-party support for action on rural suicide, including a national awareness campaign, was tempered by the Nationals' surprising policy reversal.
"The Nationals are not just walking away from an election promise, they are walking away from a crisis in the communities they claim to represent," Senator Wright said.
"The Nationals promised they would implement the findings of the Hidden Toll report when they came into government.
"The Labor party and every one of the minor party Senators supported the Australian Greens motion, so this was a real opportunity for unity and action."
Men in rural areas make up a disproportionately high number of suicides and suicide attempts.
"It's just so much harder to get help in rural and regional areas - it's time we turned the tide," Senator Wright added.
"We hope the National and Liberal Parties will have a principled change of heart soon."
Full text of the motion moved by Senator Wright is available here. The Nationals' matching election commitment to implement the findings of the Hidden Toll: Suicide in Australia report can be found on page 50 here.