NACCHO Aboriginal Health #suicideprevention : Federal Government announces Indigenous suicide roundtable to be held in Kimberley


” The Federal Government has recently been handed the final report of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Project, co-chaired by Indigenous leaders Pat Dudgeon and Tom Calma.

Dr Calma said he would like to see the report released soon. “The sooner the better,” he said. ” We need to look at this issue, we can’t just drag the chain.”

Dr Calma said he was keen to see a national suicide prevention policy that was drafted by the previous Labor government — and embraced by the current Government — implemented as soon as possible.”

Tom Calma Interview ABC NEWS By

Natasha Robinson and Cushla Travers

See 90 NACCHO articles Suicide Prevention and Help contacts below

 ” There are alternative ways to respond to child suicide in our communities without removing children from families or closing communities down, but it requires resources and placing communities in the driver’s seat.

Most broadly, “upstream” activity to mitigate the impact of disadvantage and the associated suicide risk factors is required. Here vulnerable communities must take the lead in identifying their needs and priorities, be it addressing community safety, unemployment or alcohol and drug use. ”

Picture above see NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper

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Vulnerable communities must lead their own recovery

The Federal Government is set to hold a high-level roundtable on Indigenous suicide in the West Australian Kimberley region as suicide rates continue to escalate.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has asked Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley to host the summit, which follows the suicide of a 10-year-old girl earlier this year in the Kimberley, which leads the world in Indigenous suicide rates.

News of the summit comes just over a week after the deaths of two women by suicide in the WA town of Kununurra.

A date for the Kimberley roundtable has not yet been set, but the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC) has received a letter from Mr Turnbull acknowledging the scale of the suicide crisis and promising to hold the roundtable.

Merle Carter, the women’s chair of KALACC, she was at the front line of the crisis.

“It’s very painful, very traumatic for the families,” she said.

“I am pleased that finally we’ve got ministers come to the table to actually speak, to engage with the Aboriginal people … hopefully they’ll take on board what we say.”

‘There were no signs’

Late last month hundreds of Indigenous people from across the Kimberley converged for a red dirt camp-out in the remote community of Warmun.

Dozens of tents, swags and portable toilets were set up under the baking sun for the annual general meetings of several peak Indigenous organisations including KALACC.

The ABC was invited to attend what is the biggest Indigenous gathering in the Kimberley, and one of the main issues being discussed was suicide.

The region is still reeling from the recent suicide of the 10-year-old girl, who killed herself at the community of Looma.

Nikki Carlton from Kununurra told the ABC she has lost a sister, nephew and cousin to suicide.

“Three years ago I lost my own big sister and a year after that I lost my nephew. I have to go through seeing my family live with this, you know, with no support or help from agencies,” she said.

Ms Carlton said on the day her sister died she seemed happy.

“I had seen her that day, she was really happy. Like I was saying, there were no signs,” she said.

“There is a big question mark. What is suicide? Is that the right word for what is happening to our people?”

Indigenous methods of prevention can’t be ignored

Western Australian Labor senator Sue Lines attended the meeting and said for her the issue of Indigenous suicide was about more than just politics.

“My granddaughter is Gidja from the Kimberley region and at the age of 12 she has been to more funerals than I have and I think that is a shocking place to be,” she said.

Senator Lines said there should be more consultation with Aboriginal people when developing prevention programs.

“We keep putting non-Aboriginal solutions into areas we don’t know a lot about,” she said.

“We need to get the funding model right, we fund successful programs and get it right. We need to listen to Aboriginal people about what they think they need.”

Veronica Lulu, an artist from the tiny community of Mulan, made the four-hour drive to Warmun for the meeting, down the infamous Tanami track.

She said traditional methods played a big part in the healing process.

“Sometimes we send them to hospital, to mental place, to get healed and better and they come back to their community, to their country,” she said.

“We take them out to do bush medicine to make them feel the spirit of the desert and make them strong.”

Ms Carlton said she hoped she could remind the young people around her of how precious life is.

“I tell my own kids, as much as you think life is hard, you just live it. We don’t know if there is life after death,” she said.

The West Australian Government has said the Indigenous suicide rate in the state is “unacceptably high” and “deeply concerning”.

The state’s Mental Health Minister Andrea Mitchell said Aboriginal people had been identified as a priority in the State Government’s Suicide Prevention 2020 strategy.

The Federal Government has also identified the Kimberley as one of 12 trial sites for a national suicide prevention program.

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