Dr Chris Bourke was elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly on 2 June 2011. Dr Bourke graduated from Melbourne University in 1982; the first Aborigine to complete a dental degree. He has postgraduate diplomas in public health and clinical dentistry. For 16 years he ran a successful private dental practice in Canberra. He also used his dental skills at the local community level – through pro bono work at the Queanbeyan Public Dental Clinic – and at a national policy level as the President of the Indigenous Dentist’s Association of Australia.
We all have a role in preventing suicide was ACT Minister Dr Chris Bourke’s message today opening the “Let’s Talk: Reducing the risk of suicide in Men” conference in Men’s Health week.
It is the second conference in a series of four “Let’s Talk” conferences in Canberra, looking at men’s health needs. Last year Dr Bourke opened the inaugural Let’s Talk conference, “Putting men’s health on the agenda”.
Today’s conference focuses on male suicide based on the distressing male suicide statistics. Approximately 77 per cent of suicides in Australia are male.
“Suicide is preventable. Suicide intervention skills are known; they can be learned and are skills that need to be shared. and it should be prevented. Unfortunately traditional health settings have not met male needs well”, Dr Chris Bourke said.
“Male health and wellbeing need to be addressed broadly and not just in health settings. Areas like the workplace and sporting clubs are very successful in supporting men.
“The ACT Government has committed substantial funding to community based programmes and clinical services to build mental health and reduce the risk of suicide.
“The ACT Government recognises the need for varied approaches to meet the diverse needs of those most vulnerable to ending their life by suicide,” Dr Bourke said.
Clyde Rathbone, ex Wallaby player and champion for mental health spoke about his personal experience with mental illness at the event.
Help is available for you or your family or friends through a range of services including Lifeline on 131 114 or the Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team on 1800 629 354.