NACCHO Press Release : Royal Commission needed urgently into catastrophic suicide rates in Aboriginal communities


“In any other country, in any other part of the world these statistics would be a cause of national shame and soul searching,

“And quite frankly, if these numbers applied to any group of non-indigenous kids in Sydney or Melbourne, there would be pages of newspaper print and no amount of money, resources or political effort spared to address the issue.

“It’s time there was a full Royal Commission into failings in the system that are driving so many people in our communities to such levels of despair that suicide is the only answer; and into what systemic changes we need to put in place to reverse such appalling statistics.

Matthew Cooke NACCHO Chair Press Release

16 July 2016 Download

NACCHO 1606 MR Royal Commission

Background to Photo above

There was nobody there for us. We are living in neglect, in racism, forgotten by everyone. Please allow our stories to be told at a royal commission. Too many are dying too young.”

Gerry Georgatos said families that had lost a relative to suicide were calling for change including Lena Andrews (quote above provided Lena), whose daughter Phillinka commit suicide aged 18.

I’ve sat with many families who’ve lost someone to suicide and I’ve not met a single family that does not want their story told, By not having a royal commission, we’re denying the support they need, we’re denying the outpouring they want. We’re denying their stories.”

People can sign the petition calling for action at


Aboriginal health services today called on all parties to back a Royal Commission into the devastating rate of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people as a priority for the new Federal parliament.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Care Organisation (NACCHO) Chair, Matthew Cooke, described statistics showing that as many as one in 10 deaths of Aboriginal people were suicide as a national disgrace.

According to the The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP), around 5.2 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths are officially registered as suicides but the figures could be closer to 1 in 10.

A report in the Medical Journal of Australia last month found that remote Western Australian communities with suicide rates in West Australia’s Kimberly region doubling over the past decade. Of 102 of the 125 people who took their life in the Kimberley in the past decade were Indigenous.

Of those, 70 per cent had never been referred to the mental health service. Young Indigenous men make up 71 per cent of suicide victims over the past decade in the region. Most were under 30, with 27 per cent in their teens.


“We’ve had Royal Commissions for so many reason in this country, we need one as a matter of urgency into an issue that is costing the lives of too many Australians and devastating entire communities.”

People can sign the petition calling for action at


Read over 75 NACCHO Articles about Suicide Prevention


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