NACCHO Aboriginal suicide prevention: Black Dog Institute launches app to try to save lives


ibobbly draws on stories from Aboriginal performers and uses psychological therapies proven to reduce suicidal thoughts


Consider the FACTS

  • Indigenous suicide rates five times higher than non-indigenous youth

  • New mobile app designed to provide culturally-relevant psychological care

  • Clinical trial launched by Yawuru man Patrick Dodson in Broome

Suicide rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are amongst the highest in the world.

Despite increased funding and implementation of new prevention programs, very few indigenous people will seek help before acting on suicidal thoughts.

Black Dog Institute, in partnership with WA-based suicide prevention group Alive and Kicking Goals, is launching a trial of the world’s first suicide prevention app designed especially for use by indigenous people on mobile phones or tablet devices.

Called iBobbly (a name derived from a Kimberley greeting), the app delivers treatment-based therapy in a culturally relevant way. Based on psychological therapies proven to reduce suicidal thoughts, it draws heavily on indigenous metaphors, images and stories drawn from local Aboriginal artists and performers.

According to Black Dog Institute researcher Professor Helen Christensen, the app format leaps two of the major hurdles to help seeking-Percieved stigma and isolation

We know that indigenous Australians are not seeking face to face mental health care, more than 70% of indigenous suicides occur in people who are not previously known to health services.

“Indigenous youth have a high rate of mobile phone usage  so it makes sense that we engage them on technology they are comfortable with and able to use in their own private time.”

“Once the app is downloaded they don’t need ongoing internet access and the program is password protected, thus maintaining confidentiality if the technology is shared amongst the community.”

“The initial pilot trial being run in WA will allow us to test and refine the program. We hope to expand iBobbly access to indigenous people living in other States later in 2014.”

iBobbly is funded by the Australian Government and NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention. The program was developed in partnership with Alive and Kicking Goals, HITnet Innovations,

Thoughtworks, Muru Marri Indigenous Health Unit UNSW and the Young and Well Cooperative ResearchCentre. Samsung generously donated 150 tablets for the trial.

Interviews are available with Prof Helen Christensen (Black Dog Institute) and Joe Tighe (Alive and Kicking Goals).

Contact Joe Tighe on 0400 240 607 for more information.



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The NACCHO  APP promotes the sports healthy futures program that will give Aboriginal youth the opportunity to improve their overall health and wellbeing through active participation in sports.

Research shows that if a young person is happy and healthy they will be able to get the most out of their education, build their confidence and their self-belief and hopefully one day become a well-educated “Indigenous All-star” in the sport or employment of their choosing.” Mr. Mohamed said.

Mr. Mohamed said he is encouraging all  150 NACCHO members and stakeholders to promote the APP to their 5,000 staff and over 100,000 clients so that our community members can really have Aboriginal health in Aboriginal Hands. All ready in first few days over 1,000 Apps have been downloaded from the APP Store and Google Android store.

Here are the URL links to the App – alternatively you can type NACCHO into both stores and they come up!



“The NACCHO App contains a geo locator, which will help you find the nearest Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation in your area and  provides heath information online and telephone on a wide range of topics and where you can go to get more information or assistance should you need urgent help “ Mr Mohamed said.

Health help includes:

Ambulance, Alcohol, Babies Breast Cancer, Cancer, Children,  Depression, Diabetes, Domestic Violence, Drugs, eHealth, Eye Health, Gambling, Healthy Eating, Hearing, Male health, Medicare, Mental Health, Prostate cancer, Smoking , Suicide, Teenagers, Women’s Health.

The NACCHO App allows users  to share, connect or contact NACCHO through our social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, daily news alerts and the NACCHO website.

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One comment on “NACCHO Aboriginal suicide prevention: Black Dog Institute launches app to try to save lives


    Date: 15 November 2013

    A motion was passed in the WA Parliament this week calling on WA Members of Parliament to express concern about the tragic suicide crisis in regional WA, particularly the Kimberley region, and for governments to do more to address the issue.

    Fast Facts:
    • WA Labor’s motion calling for a new focus on the suicide crisis in regional WA was passed in the WA Parliament this week
    • WA has the highest rates of suicide in the nation. The situation is particularly dire in the Kimberley region and among Aboriginal Western Australians
    • A number of programs that directly or indirectly assisted in preventing suicides are under threat
    WA Labor Leader Mark McGowan introduced the motion, which was supported by all political parties, following last week’s visit to the Kimberley and continued campaigning from Member or Kimberley Josie Farrer.
    “Western Australia has the highest rates of suicide in the nation,” Mr McGowan said.
    “In regional Western Australia, the rate of suicide is 18.5 per 100,000 people, per year. This figure is significantly worse in the Kimberley, where in the 12 months leading up to September 2012, 35 people took their own lives.
    “The situation is particularly dire for Aboriginal Australians, where the suicide rate is roughly double that of non-Aboriginal Australians.”
    Mr McGowan said governments had tried to address the issue of suicide over a long period of time but the crisis that existed today, particularly among Aboriginal Western Australians, showed that many initiatives had not worked.
    “Despite the goodwill of many, the reasons for the suicide crisis in WA have developed for many years, during successive State governments,” Mr McGowan said.
    “There are many and varied, but feedback from those affected suggests they relate primarily to issues included loss of culture, dispossession, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, inability to see a long-term future, unemployment, the scourge or alcohol and drugs, domestic violence and sexual abuse.
    “It is clear that the tragic rate of suicide is having a devastating impact on families in regional WA, particularly in the Kimberley.
    “Some families never recover from the loss of a loved one, and I strongly believe that everyone, particularly those in government, has a responsibility to do more to prevent these tragedies from continuing.”
    Mr McGowan said he was concerned that some programs that had some success in addressing suicide both directly and indirectly were now under threat.
    “The Barnett Government’s cuts to the Aboriginal and Islander Education Officer (AIEO) will see 105 officers cut across WA in 2014,” he said.
    “This program has provided young Aboriginal and Islander students with guidance, assistance and a way forward. The officers, which are placed in schools with high numbers of Aboriginal and Islander students, are instrumental in assisting students to find their way in life and they should not be removed from classrooms.
    “It has also been revealed that the Barnett Government has not guaranteed funding of around $200,000 a year for Save the Children’s Helping Young People Engage (HYPE) program beyond June 2014.
    “Through this program, local youth workers travel around Broome in a bus, picking up children from the streets and taking them to safe locations and assisting with any health or other issues they may be facing.
    “The HYPE program has assisted hundreds of mainly Aboriginal children in Broome and without it, even more young children will continue to roam the streets.”
    “Finally, the Barnett Government have not guaranteed funding for Derby’s Community Action Plan (CAP) to prevent suicides beyond June 2014. The program empowered locals to express their own ideas on how to prevent and cope with suicide.
    “The program had achieved some success and should continue into the future.”
    Mr McGowan called for bi-partisan approach to addressing WA’s suicide crisis.
    “We need to take a new approach to this issue and I look forward to working with the Barnett Government to reverse this tragic trend and developing serious long-term solutions.”

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