NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SuicidePrevention #MentalHealth #ClosingTheGap : Read full speech @BeyondBlue Chair The Hon. Julia Gillard AC opening #NSPC19

 ” I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet, the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation, and, in a spirit of reconciliation, pay my respect to their Elders – past and present………….

Today, First Nations people are twice as likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous people.

Since 2012, suicide has been the leading cause of death among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 to 34 years of age.

Improving social and emotional wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and reversing the suicide toll are inextricably linked to issues of post-colonial, intergenerational trauma, the need for secure housing, a fair go inside and outside the justice system, access to education and employment opportunities, and tackling racism.

And as many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to remind us, Indigenous policies must be led by Indigenous people whose solutions look different to ours. “

The Hon Julia Gillard Chair of Beyond Blue and 27th Prime Minister of Australia.

To read full speech 

Read over 140 + Aboriginal health and Suicide Prevention articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years 

Here are selected extracts

1.Today, First Nations people are twice as likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous people.

In every part of our country, and for the sake of our society and economy, we need to continue to stress that maintaining good mental health and preventing suicide is a social, economic and political imperative.

As we all know, this imperative is especially vital for some groups who face significantly higher risk of suicide.

People of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, LGBTI communities, rural and regional Australians, and our young people and the most elderly.

Once again, I am drawn to the leadership of Professor De Leo who observed that great cultural sensitivity should be applied when designing effective suicide-prevention strategies to tackle social issues of such importance and magnitude.

That they must reflect the unique needs and experiences of communities and that the communities themselves must show us the way.

He points out that many risk factors for suicide are the same for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people: trauma, housing stress, substance abuse and unemployment among them.

But there are also personal issues that show more frequently in Indigenous suicide such as relationship breakdown and recent bereavement.

The significance of culture has never been as apparent to me as when I visited Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Culture is a word that is often tangled up with nationality, but it entails much more.

Our culture determines so much of our identity; our values, the way we view the world, the way we interact with others, our sense of belonging.

Our culture protects us.

And if a single piece of our culture is taken away, erased or replaced, it leaves us feeling uncertain, disconnected.

Today, First Nations people are twice as likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous people.

Since 2012, suicide has been the leading cause of death among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 to 34 years of age.

Improving social and emotional wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and reversing the suicide toll are inextricably linked to issues of post-colonial, intergenerational trauma, the need for secure housing, a fair go inside and outside the justice system, access to education and employment opportunities, and tackling racism.

And as many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to remind us, Indigenous policies must be led by Indigenous people whose solutions look different to ours.

I am heartened that we have, for the first time, Aboriginal people from both sides of politics leading Indigenous policy.

It is hard to believe that, despite the alarming statistics on Indigenous suicide and psychological distress, there are no mental health or suicide prevention targets in Australia’s Closing the Gap strategy.

Rectifying this is something Beyond Blue has been calling for.

2. Research and the #YouCanTalk Campaign 

In February 2018, Beyond Blue released research by the University of Melbourne and Whereto Research Based Consulting, which detailed what advice can be given to the public to increase the likelihood that they will ask about and support someone who may be at risk of suicide.

This was rigorous, scientific but also humanistic research that I hope Diego would approve of.

The research team spoke to experts, studied existing literature and surveyed over 3,000 Australians from all walks of life.

People who said they had not been affected in any way by suicide.

People who had been touched directly by suicide.

And people who had attempted suicide in the previous 12 months.

Those who had thought about or attempted suicide confirmed that having someone listen to them with empathy and show care and support was the most important and helpful thing to them.

The research confirmed a deep community concern about suicide, and that most people want to do more to prevent suicide in their communities, but don’t know how.

They were unsure where to start, how to identify the often very subtle verbal and non-verbal warning signs.

The words to use, or even whether they should say anything at all.

Because:

• 50 per cent of research participants believed only a professional can help prevent suicide;

• 40 per cent worried that talking about suicide made things worse;

• And 30 per cent believed discussing suicide would make it happen.

That research underpinned a collaborative response by the Black Dog Institute, Everymind, headspace, Lifeline, ReachOut, RU OK? and Beyond Blue.

The result was the #YouCanTalk campaign.

#YouCanTalk aims to debunk the myths, build up the confidence of the community, and equip individuals to have safe and helpful conversations about suicide and provide empathetic and practical support to people thinking about suicide.

It is about mobilising the community and empowering family and friends to act as ‘eyes and ears’, hopefully before their loved ones reach crisis point.

The first phase of the social media campaign went live in July last year.

Using the combined power and reach of the social networks and online communities of all seven organisations, the message reached an audience of over 18 million and was the top trending Twitter topic on launch day.

A second phase is in development with an expanded group that now includes SANE Australia, the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and Roses in the Ocean.

#YouCanTalk is owned, and can be used, by everyone.

And it’s already having positive ripple effects.

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