- Ask for help – 2013 has been a year when pressures and anxiety levels of rural and farming life attracted close attention, says Rural Women NZ National President, Wendy McGowan. “From January we begin a campaign highlighting access to rural health and well-being services. Help can be the best gift of all.” Members of RWNZ will also continue fundraising during 2014 to provide adverse events counselling opportunities for individuals and communities.
- Give family violence a permanent holiday – everyone should be safe at home. Women’s Refuge NZ says most refuges experience a spike in demand during the festive season. But, fewer than half are equipped to take care of rural families in a crisis. Due to isolation, those feeling unsafe may have to seek immediate help from others nearby. This can result in concerns about anonymity and confidentiality. “For many rural women, their home is also their business base”, says Mrs McGowan. “If she needs to escape a violent situation, she leaves behind her home, community, job and animals.”
The NZ RSPCA/NCWR 2012 “Pets as Pawns” research found that cows were fourth in the hierarchy of animals most likely to be killed by a violent partner, following dogs, cats and birds. “This raises serious animal welfare issues. The Pets as Pawns survey reported that violent partners used threats to companion and farm production animals as ways of controlling and intimidating family members.”
Rural Women and Are you OK campaign will launch a letterbox sticker campaign to focus on supporting each other in rural communities. Look for this in rural mail in 2014.
- Women’s Refuge operates a 24 hour crisis helpline service – 0800 733843 every day of the year. The crime prevention organisation, Crimestoppers (0800 555 111), also guarantees caller anonymity.
- Universal mobile phone coverage – a recent RWNZ survey found that one-third of respondents did not have mobile phone coverage on their properties or on the public roads leading to them.
“Many visitors to rural areas this summer will be surprised how patchy and variable cell-phone coverage is,’ says Mrs McGowan. This lack of a NZ-wide communication option that most consumers now take for granted can cause frustration and anxiety – especially when accidents, illness and crime occur.
“RWNZ will continue in 2014 to raise the bar for rural technology coverage – including broadband, but, especially advocating for greater cellphone coverage which we see as a health and safety necessity,” Mrs McGowan said.
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