NACCHO #HealthElection16 : Parliamentary inquiry calls for royal commission into #Indigenous #suicide

IP-Feb16-fig1

“If we don’t have a royal commission into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides, we are going have more suicides, the trends are going to keep on going up, we are going to keep on losing more lives.

We’re already losing more than five per cent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population nationally to suicide. That’s abominable, that’s a humanitarian, a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.”

Suicide prevention worker, Gerry Georgatos, told politicians national action is needed via ABC PM

Photo above Centre for Suicide Prevention

“Mental Health Minister Andrea Mitchell today announced the first three of a total of seven suicide prevention co-ordinators scheduled for placement in Western Australia in 2016.

Co-ordinators will be placed in the Goldfields, Wheatbelt and South-West regions in the first phase of a $3.5 million initiative to promote suicide prevention, and increase community resilience and ability to respond to suicide”

WA Government Press Release see below

TONY EASTLEY: A West Australian parliamentary inquiry has been told a royal commission is needed to address the state’s Indigenous suicide rate.

The inquiry was launched after the death of a 10-year-old girl in a remote Kimberley community earlier this year.

Anthony Stewart has more.

ANTHONY STEWART: An estimated one in 19 Aboriginal people from WA will commit suicide.

State Parliament is examining the crisis, but today, suicide prevention worker, Gerry Georgatos, told politicians national action is needed.

GERRY GEORGATOS: If we don’t have a royal commission into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides, we are going have more suicides, the trends are going to keep on going up, we are going to keep on losing more lives.

We’re already losing more than five per cent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population nationally to suicide. That’s abominable, that’s a humanitarian, a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

ANTHONY STEWART: WA was shocked into grappling with the issue after a 10-year-old girl committed suicide in March.

The child’s death in the remote Kimberley community of Looma, pushed the WA Parliament to establish an inquiry into youth suicides.

At today’s hearing, committee members repeatedly questioned those giving evidence about the merits of a royal commission.

Dr Graham Jacob chairs the inquiry.

GRAHAM JACOB: We have an open mind to that and we will continue to consider it and hopefully we will have our recommendations around November, before the end of the year.

ANTHONY STEWART: Late last year, the Federal Government established a critical incident team to help WA communities in the immediate aftermath of a suicide.

Evidence presented at the hearing has detailed how the team responded to three suicides in close succession just before Christmas in the Goldfields community of Leonora.

Adele Cox is part of the team which responded.

ADELE COX: Suicide in a lot of our communities, and particularly for young people, sadly has become quite normalised. You know, if something goes wrong, you know, that’s sort of one of the options that’s considered. We actually need to turn that around completely so that, you know, our kids never have suicide as a thought or an option.

ANTHONY STEWART: Ms Cox is also Bunuba and Gija woman from the Kimberley.

She called for more action within Aboriginal communities

ADELE COX: One suicide is one too many. You know, what does it take before we actually get some real change. Greater commitment from both governments, but also I think our own communities, you know. Ultimately as the keepers of our people, you know, we need to take some responsibility in terms of responding to our own mob’s needs as well.

ANTHONY STEWART: The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody is now 25 years old.

Recommendations like the creation of the custody notification service continue to prevent Indigenous deaths in police watch-houses.

Gerry Georgatos says a similar level of national debate is needed to prevent suicides.

GERRY GEORGATOS: A royal commission, on the one hand, will help shift that national consciousness, will help educate the nation, but more importantly, will avail the nation, will avail the bureaucrats, will avail the policy-makers, will avail the parliamentarians, to what works in suicide prevention, and what type of political reform we need.

ANTHONY STEWART: To underline the urgency of this inquiry’s work, it was today informed there was another suicide in the Kimberley at the weekend.

This death happened in a community just visited by one of the politicians.

TONY EASTLEY: Anthony Stewart with that report.

And if you or anyone you know needs help you can call

Lifeline on 13 11 14,

FUNDING FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION CO-ORDINATORS

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

  • New suicide prevention co-ordinator roles for Goldfields, South-West and Wheatbelt
  • First phase of major $3.5 million initiative

Mental Health Minister Andrea Mitchell today announced the first three of a total of seven suicide prevention co-ordinators scheduled for placement in Western Australia in 2016.

Co-ordinators will be placed in the Goldfields, Wheatbelt and South-West regions in the first phase of a $3.5 million initiative to promote suicide prevention, and increase community resilience and ability to respond to suicide.

“These new positions fulfil a number of actions identified as part of the Liberal National Government’s Suicide Prevention 2020 Strategy,” Ms Mitchell said.

“These new co-ordinators will be facilitators to assist services on the ground to work in partnership to improve support and care for those affected by suicide and suicide attempts.

“While there is a range of support services available for people in crisis in regional areas, these new positions will increase the capacity of communities to identify and respond to suicide and related mental health issues as well as to promote suicide prevention services and initiatives.

“Co-ordinators will promote suicide prevention training and self-help activities to at-risk groups, as well as training for professionals and to first responders to a suicide.”

The Minister said phase two of the program, which would place co-ordinators in the Kimberley and Mid-West, would be announced soon, and the placement of two co-ordinators in the metropolitan area was also expected later in 2016.

The Mental Health Commission has signed agreements with Holyoake in the Wheatbelt, Hope Community Services in the Goldfields and St John of God Health Care in the South-West.

Fact File

  • The Liberal National Government’s $25.9 million suicide prevention strategy, Suicide Prevention 2020, includes six action areas, including providing local support and community prevention across the lifespan
  • On average, in WA one person loses their life to suicide each day

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