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More professional mental health workers needed in country areas

I move that the Senate:

1.      notes the study by Melbourne's Monash University which shows less people in rural, remote  and disadvantaged areas accessing mental health services;

2.      acknowledges that rates of severe mental illness are higher in the most disadvantaged areas;

3.      recognises that people in wealthier areas access psychologists and psychiatrists up to three times as much as those in the most disadvantaged areas; and

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Greens introduce new 'country of origin' labelling laws to support local growers

The Australian Greens are urging the major parties support farmers and workers in the Riverland by backing a new push for country of origin labelling laws.

Senator for South Australia Penny Wright said the Greens would introduce new legislation for mandatory labelling in the Senate this week.

"Everyone wants to support our farmers and workers by buying local, but the current labelling laws are too confusing and can be misleading," said Senator Wright.

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Country communities say Abbott Government failing on rural mental health

The Abbott Government's performance on rural mental health has been overwhelmingly condemned in a new survey of rural mental health workers, consumers and community activists.

The survey, conducted by Australian Greens spokesperson for mental health Senator Penny Wright, revealed widespread dissatisfaction with mental health services in rural and regional areas.

Only five per cent of respondents thought local services were enough to meet local needs and 97 per cent wanted government funding for rural and regional mental health increased.

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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.

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Addressing the Hidden Toll of suicide in rural Australia

I move that the Senate

1.      notes that a disproportionately high number of completed suicides and suicide attempts involve men in rural areas; and

2.      calls on the government to implement the key recommendations of The Hidden Toll: Suicide in Australia report of the Senate Community Affairs References Committee during the term of the 44th Parliament of Australia, including:

a)      funding a national suicide prevention and awareness campaign, to run for at least five years; and

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Solar thermal one step closer for Port Augusta

The Greens have congratulated Alinta Energy for their decision to proceed with a feasibility study into a solar thermal power station with storage, in Port Augusta. 

“This is a great step forward for South Australia and a win for the dedicated Port Augusta community who have been campaigning for a base-load solar thermal power station for years,” South Australian Greens Senator Penny Wright said. 

“Solar thermal will keep jobs in Port Augusta, improve the health of the community and uniquely position the town for the future.

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Audit cuts to rural SA will have human cost

Huge cuts to rural and regional services will have drastic mental health consequences if adopted by the Abbott Government, Australian Greens Senator for South Australia Penny Wright has warned.

Senator Wright urged the Abbott Government to immediately reject proposals to abolish the Rural Financial Counselling Service and Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme.

"The Abbott Government must not sell out rural and regional South Australia," Senator Wright said.

"These programs have supported thousands of country families through tough times."

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