David Jochinke welcomes government cash for National Centre for Farmer Health

PLEASED: Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER
PLEASED: Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

THE Victorian Farmers Federation has welcomed an 11th hour decision by the Federal Government to keep the National Centre for Farmer Health open.

Federation vice-president and Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke said it had been a hard road to secure funding after the centre missed out in both state and federal budgets.

"It's been a long and hard slog for everyone involved," he said.

"It was a relief to hear that it finally got through."

The centre won a reprieve on Tuesday when the Federal Government announced it would contribute $375,090, unlocking a $250,000 State Government commitment.

The centre had requested $1 million to continue its services.

The one-off funding will keep the centre open for another year, but after that its future is uncertain.

Mr Jochinke said although the announcement fell short of the target, just keeping the centre open was crucial.

"Obviously when you see programs like this you'd like to see them get their full allocation of funding, but it's nice to hear that they've got enough to continue," he said.

"This money has been asked for for a very long time."

Mr Jochinke said the centre helped rural communities across Australia that were experiencing hardship.

"It's a program that's constantly running somewhere," he said.

The program had recently worked with drought-affected farmers in NSW and Queensland.

"When the Wimmera is in need it will be ready for us - it's a program helping farmers continually," Mr Jochinke said.

"It ensures that not only the physical health but the mental well-being of communities is looked after." Liberal Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay said the Federal Government should be the main supporter of the centre.

"The Napthine government is committed to country Victoria - and improving the lives, health and opportunities for regional Victorians," he said.

"This commitment to the National Centre for Farmer Health reflects that position.

"But we can't do it on our own - and, as a national centre, the name quite rightly identifies the funding approach that should be taken federally for the centre.

"A national centre should have national support."

Labor Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford said the funding had come too late.

"The Liberals and Nationals shouldn't need months of community outrage to save an important rural health service," she said.

"This is only a last-minute, temporary reprieve for the election - Victorian farmers deserve more certainty and this centre deserves to be protected."


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