Press release: EMPOWERING INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES TO TACKLE SUICIDE

THE HON MARK BUTLER MP Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Minister for Social Inclusion,Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform,THE HON JENNY MACKLIN MP Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs,THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP Minister for Indigenous Health

MEDIA RELEASE
1 June 2012   

     
The Menzies School of Health Research has been appointed to help the Gillard Government develop the nation’s first Indigenous Suicide Prevention Strategy.

The Menzies School will work with the

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Advisory Group and the

 National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)

 to ensure the Strategy is coherent and comprehensive, and backed by a strong evidence base.

“Any person taking their own life is a tragedy that deeply affects their family and community. We are determined to tackle the high rate of indigenous suicide in Australia and this announcement is a further tangible step we are taking to do just that,” Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, said.

The Advisory Group, chaired by Tom Calma, has also provided guidance on how the Government can most effectively invest the $6 million in funding over four years committed to reduce Indigenous suicide under the Taking Action to Tackle Suicide package. 
Mr Butler also today announced the first tranche of projects which will share in around $2.4 million funding. 
“This funding is for five local projects which have their roots in the local community. They are being delivered by organisations focused on prevention and with experience and knowledge of the unique issues faced by Indigenous communities.” 
The Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said the community-based projects would help Indigenous communities to deal with the issue of suicide on a local level. 
“We know communities need support and this Government is determined to work with Indigenous people to help prevent suicides.” 
Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, said taking care of mental health is critically important, health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must go beyond healthy bodies.
“The Australian Government is committed to ensuring the health issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are addressed, tackling suicide and self-harm goes hand in hand with our ongoing investment in health care,” Mr Snowdon said. The Government is providing funding for the following projects:

  • $1 million will be provided to the University of Western Australia to expand Empowerment. This suicide prevention pilot was delivered in the Kimberley region last year to address high rates of suicide.  Empowerment will be rolled out to eight Indigenous urban, regional and remote localities around Australia.   
  • $1.05 million will be provided to Vibe Australia to help them deliver suicide prevention messages to young Indigenous people through dance, music and sport. Vibe is a dynamic Aboriginal media, communication and arts organisation and will roll out a program to restore pride in culture and build self esteem, and link young Indigenous people to local Aboriginal-led community organisations and services (see vibe.com.au)
  • $240,000 will be provided to remote communities to run Deadly Thinking workshops developed by the Australasian Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health. These workshops will train members of those communities to work as ‘natural helpers’ to help prevent suicide and raise local awareness of mental health issues.
  • $91,500 will be provided to the United Synergies group for the ‘Who You, Which Way’ project, enabling them to train people in Indigenous communities to deliver culturally appropriate community approaches to trauma and suicide bereavement support
  • $67,320 will be provided to the Queensland Remote Aboriginal Media to deliver ‘Yarnin’ about Mental Health’ radio broadcasts for Cape York communities, which will build community awareness of mental health and suicide prevention issues and services.

The Government is continuing to deliver on its promise to make mental health a priority for this term of Government and will invite applications for further rounds of available funding in the coming months.
Media contact: Virginia Kim, 0407 415 484