NACCHO #VoteACCHO Aboriginal Health #Election2019 #AusVotesHealth and #SuicidePrevention : @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills and other #health #justice leaders express concern that recent Indigenous #MentalHealth funding will go to mainstream services like @headspace_aus

What we know from the federal budget is a significant amount has been allocated towards Headspace and again, if it’s working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the call is for it to go back to our community health organisations.

Evidence shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people access services where they feel culturally safe… Aboriginal people engage with community controlled health organisations because of that trust.

We want to see the money go towards community-driven health organisations so they can each determine what mental health programs would look like in their own communities

Acting Chairperson for NACCHO Donnella Mills told NITV News it was “absolutely a worry” the funding would be put into the hands of services like Headspace. See Full Article below from NITV

Read over 130 Aboriginal health and Suicide Prevention articles written by NACCHO over past 7 years

The above photo from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project

“I would like to visit and sit down with the Indigenous Elders in the community and first of all share the sorrow.

Our first Australians need us, so their kids can see hope and not choose the darkest of all possible options.”

The PM Scott Morrison told reporters combating youth suicide was his big priority

See PM and Minister Ken Wyatt Press Release HERE

Visit our NACCHO #VoteACCHO Election Campaign page HERE 

Especially #VoteACCHO Recommendation 4.

The incoming Federal Government must invest in ACCHOs, so we can address youth suicide

Provide $50 million over four years to ACCHOs to address the national crisis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide in vulnerable communities.

  • Fund new Aboriginal support staff to provide immediate assistance to children and young people at risk of self-harm and improved case management.
  • Fund regionally based multi-disciplinary teams, comprising paediatricians, child psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners who are culturally safe and respectful, to ensure ready access to professional assistance.
  • Provide accredited training to ACCHOs to upskill in areas of mental health, childhood development, youth services, environment health, health and wellbeing screening and service delivery.

#VoteACCHO Recommendation 6.

The incoming Federal Government must allocate Indigenous specific health funding to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

● Transfer the funding for Indigenous specific programs from Primary Health Networks to ACCHOs.

● Primary Health Networks assign ACCHOs as preferred providers for other Australian Government funded services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples unless it can be shown that alternative arrangements can produce better outcomes in quality of care and access to services.

With the federal election coming up next month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged additional funding towards combating youth and Aboriginal suicide, but Indigenous health advocates are concerned the money isn’t making it into the right places.

Edited from Brook Fryer NITV

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a boost towards mental health services on Saturday for young and Indigenous people, leaving Aboriginal health representatives concerned the funding will be put into the hands of conventional services.

If the Coalition is re-elected next month in the federal election, Mr Morrison has pledged to roll out an additional $42.1 million on top of the already committed $461 million that was announced as part of the federal budget earlier this month.

The promise includes $12.5 million towards making mental health services more effective for Indigenous people as well as $22.5 million to boost the governments Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention strategy.

The remainder will be put towards digital tools for mental health issues that are impacting young people including depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

Announced as part of the federal budget, the youth mental health organisation received $263.3 million to be rolled out over seven years.

In January, Headspace also received a $47 million boost from the Coalition, which was the third announcement of funding given to the youth mental health organisation since October last year.

Hannah McGlade, Senior Indigenous Research Fellow at Curtin University and a justice advocate, reiterated the need to have funding given to Indigenous initiatives.

“Cultural safety and cultural competency is critical for mental health care for Indigenous people and Indigenous youth and it’s simply too much of a challenge for non-Indigenous people,” she said.

Ms McGlade said there is a real concern the amount of funding won’t be enough to combat the First Nations suicide crisis.

The latest reported suicide was an 18-year-old female from the remote Western Australia community of Balgo, in the Kimberley region, on Thursday.

This year alone there have been 47 Aboriginal suicides with more than half under the age of 26 and around 12 under the age of 18, said Gerry Georgatos, the CEO of the National Critical Response Trauma Project.

“20 have been females,” he said.

“There have been four [First Nations] suicides across the country in the last week.”

Ms McGlade said she is expecting very little to come out of Mr Morrison’s visits to affected communities.

“Tony Abbott did the same thing and it lead to nothing, this is not a government that is at all committed to human rights… there is no indication that this government is at all interested in Aboriginal human rights,” she said.

The government is also pledging a further $19.6 million through the Indigenous Advancement strategy to prevent Indigenous youth suicide, with Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion saying the funding would be largely used in the Kimberley.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact: Lifeline on 13 11 14 or a local ACCHO Aboriginal Health Service 302 locations

 Indigenous Australian psychologist services can be found here.

NACCHO #VoteACCHO Aboriginal #Mental Health and #SuicidePrevention : For #Election2019 #AusVotesHealth Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP and Indigenous Health Minister @KenWyattMP  Announce a  further $42m on mental health initiatives for young and some for Indigenous Australians

Young Indigenous people face many barriers to accessing healthcare including finding services that are safe and tailored to meet their needs.

This work will help change the way we deliver general mental health services so they draw on the value of culture, community and country to enrich the care provided to our First Nations people ”  

 Indigenous Health minister, Ken Wyatt. See extensive FACT SHEETS Part 2 below

“Our government will do  whatever it takes and whatever we can to break the curse of youth suicide in our country and ensure young people get the support they need”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Read over 130 Aboriginal Health and Suicide Prevention articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years  

Read over 200 Aboriginal Mental Health articles published by NACCHO over the past 7 years 

Visit our NACCHO #VoteACCHO Election Campaign page HERE 

#VoteACCHO Recommendation 4.

The incoming Federal Government must invest in ACCHOs, so we can address youth suicide

Provide $50 million over four years to ACCHOs to address the national crisis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide in vulnerable communities.

  • Fund new Aboriginal support staff to provide immediate assistance to children and young people at risk of self-harm and improved case management.
  • Fund regionally based multi-disciplinary teams, comprising paediatricians, child psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners who are culturally safe and respectful, to ensure ready access to professional assistance.
  • Provide accredited training to ACCHOs to upskill in areas of mental health, childhood development, youth services, environment health, health and wellbeing screening and service delivery.

#VoteACCHO Recommendation 6.

The incoming Federal Government must allocate Indigenous specific health funding to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

● Transfer the funding for Indigenous specific programs from Primary Health Networks to ACCHOs.

● Primary Health Networks assign ACCHOs as preferred providers for other Australian Government funded services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples unless it can be shown that alternative arrangements can produce better outcomes in quality of care and access to services.

Part 1 : Coalition vows to ‘break the curse of youth suicide’ with mental health package

The Coalition has pledged a further $42m on mental health initiatives for young and Indigenous Australians, on top of $461m in the budget for mental health and suicide prevention.

Extracts from The Guardian

Of the new funding, $22.5m will be spent on research grants to help find better treatments for mental health problems and $19.6m on the Indigenous advancement strategy to prevent suicide, particularly in the Kimberley.

In the first three months of this year, there were at least 35 suicides among Indigenous people, three of whom were only 12 years old.

The findings of an inquest into 13 suicides among young Aboriginal people in the Kimberley, handed down in February, found that crushing intergenerational trauma and poverty, including from the harmful effect of colonisation and loss of culture, were to blame.

The Morrison government has made “securing essential services” central to its re-election pitch, using its projection of a surplus in 2019-20 and perceived strength of economic management to pre-empt Labor attacks that it is not spending enough on health and other social causes.

Labor is promising to not only build bigger budget surpluses but also outspend the Coalition in health, beginning with its $2.3bn cancer package that it announced in the budget reply.

The research component of the Coalition’s mental health package has been allocated to a series of grants, including about emergency department management of acute mental health crises and culturally appropriate mental healthcare for Indigenous Australians.

Past 2 #VoteACCHO

1. Indigenous Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

  • The rate of suicide among Australians, particularly young First Australians is one of the most heartbreaking challenges we face as a country.
  • We have provided $88.8 million for Indigenous-specific mental health services, as well as local, culturally-safe mental health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders through our $1.45 billion investment in PHNs.
  • The Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt MP, has championed new measures to address Indigenous suicide prevention measures. Under the Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan the Morrison McCormack Government is providing $14.5 million to support Indigenous leadership to help our health care system provide culturally safe and appropriate care, as well as new funding to enable young Indigenous people to participate in place-based cultural programs; build a centre of excellence in childhood wellness; and adapt psychological treatments to meet the needs of Indigenous Australians.
  • The Morrison McCormack Government is also making a new $19.6 million investment through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy to prevent Indigenous youth suicide, particularly in the Kimberley. This new $19.6 million investment will help build resilience and leadership skills in at-risk communities and provide new pathways for engagement, including some which the Kimberley Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Forum told us are needed to support fellow young people.

2. Mental Health

  • The mental health of Australians is a priority for the Morrison McCormack Government.
  • One in five people in Australia experience a common mental disorder each year. Nearly half of the Australian population will experience mental illness at some point in their lives, but less than half will access treatment.
  • We are doing more than any other previous government to safeguard the mental wellbeing of Australians, providing record funding of $4.8 billion in 2018-19.
  • We are delivering more frontline services that meet the specific needs of local communities through a record $1.45 billion investment in our Primary Health Networks. We are providing long-term support for local psychologists, mental health nurses, and social workers, ensuring that the right services are available in the right place and at the right time.
  • We have expanded the headspace network, boosted headspace services, and established the Mental Health in Education Initiative with Beyond Blue to provide young Australians with additional help and support.
  • We have pioneered Medicare telehealth services allowing Australians in rural areas to access care from their homes. We have also expanded free or low-cost digital services, accessible through our new head to health portal to cater for those who prefer to access support online.
  • We have been the first to fully recognise the need for intensive support for Australians with eating disorders – the deadliest of all psychiatric illnesses – by creating specific Medicare funded services, a National Helpline, and providing $70.2 million for new residential treatment centres.
  • We have introduced key reforms such as a Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, changes to private health insurance, and innovative models of care such as the $114.5 million trial of 8 mental health centres.
  • Investing in mental health and suicide prevention is not a choice, it is a must.
  • The Liberal and Nationals Government’s track record in delivering a strong economy ensures we can invest in essential services such as youth mental health and suicide prevention services.

3.Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

  • The tragedy of suicide touches far too many Australian families. Suicide is the leading cause of death of our young people – accounting for one-third of deaths of Australians aged 15-24.
  • The Government will provide $503.1 million for a Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan to prevent suicide and promote the mental wellbeing of young Australians. This represents the single largest investment in youth suicide prevention in the country’s history.
  • We are prioritising three key areas as our nation’s best protection against suicide – strengthening the headspace network, Indigenous suicide prevention and early childhood and parenting support.
  • We will ensure young people get help where and when needed by investing an additional $375 million to expand and improve the headspace network. headspace provides youth-friendly services for the challenges facing young Australians: across physical health, alcohol and other drug use, vocational support and mental health.
  • To strengthen Indigenous youth suicide prevention, we will invest $34.1 million including support for Indigenous leadership that will help our health care system deliver culturally appropriate, trauma-informed care as well as services that recognise the value of community, cultural artistic traditions and protective social factors. Out support includes $19.6 million for measures to prevent Indigenous youth suicide, particularly in the Kimberley.
  • To support parents and their children we will invest $11.8 million in a range of initiatives to help parents recognise when their children are struggling, improve mental health skills training in schools, enhance peer support networks and boost counselling support services for young people.
  • We are also providing an additional $22.5 million in specific youth and Indigenous health research projects as part of our $125 million ‘Million Minds Mission’.
  • The Liberal and Nationals Government established this ten-year $125 million Mission through the Medical Research Future Fund. It will unlock key research into the cause of mental health as well as better treatments and therapies.
  • For Australians living in rural and regional we are ensuring that services are available where they are most needed by establishing more than 20 new headspace sites in rural and regional Australia, and by providing new mental health telehealth services funded through Medicare.
  • .

Natural Disasters

  • We are also addressing the mental health needs of those affected by natural disasters through:
    • $5.5 million for additional mental health services in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania. This includes Medicare items for GPs to provide telehealth services to flood affected communities in Queensland.
    • $21.9 million for the Empowering our Communitiesinitiative to support community-led mental health programmes in nine drought-affected Primary Health Network regions.

Background

Mental Health Facts

  • One in five Australians aged 16 to 85 experiences a common mental illness (e.g. anxiety disorder, depression) in any year; nearly half (45 per cent) of all Australians will experience a mental health problem over the course of their lives. In 2016, one in seven children aged 4 to 17 years was assessed as having a mental health disorder in the previous 12 months.
  • Approximately 730,000 Australians experience severe mental health disorders. Another 4-6 per cent of the population (about 1.5 million people) are estimated to have a moderate disorder and a further 9-12 per cent (about 2.9 million people) a mild disorder.
  • Mental illness costs the Australian economy over $60 billion per year (around four per cent of Gross Domestic Product).

Suicide and Self-harm Facts

  • In 2017, 3,128 people died from intentional self-harm (12.6 deaths per 100,000 people), rising 9.1% from 2,866 in 2016. The 2017 rate is on par with 2015 as the highest recorded rate of suicide in the past 10 years. Most states saw an increase in their suicide rates, with Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory experiencing the largest rises. However, there were declines in Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria.
  • Suicide remained the leading cause of death among people aged between 15-44 years, and the second leading cause of death among those 45-54 years of age.
  • While intentional self-harm accounts for a relatively small proportion (1.9 per cent) of all deaths in Australia, it accounts for a higher proportion of deaths among younger people (36 per cent of deaths among people aged 15 to 24).

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Mental Health and #SuicidePrevention : @ruokday ? launches #RUOKSTRONGERTOGETHER resources a targeted suicide prevention campaign to encourage conversation within our communities. Contributions inc Dr Vanessa Lee @joewilliams_tew @ShannanJDodson

“Nationally, Indigenous people die from suicide at twice the rate of non-Indigenous people. This campaign comes at a critical time.

As a community we are Stronger Together. Knowledge is culture, and emotional wellbeing can be learned from family members such as mothers and grandmothers.

These new resources from R U OK? will empower family members, and the wider community, with the tools to look out for each other as well as providing guidance on what to do if someone answers “No, I’m not OK”.”

Dr Vanessa Lee BTD, MPH, PhD Chair R U OK’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group whose counsel has been integral in the development of the campaign

Read over 130 + NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Suicide Prevention articles

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP)

https://www.atsispep.sis.uwa.edu.au/

I have struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’m 32 years old and only this year did I have the first psychologist ever ask me about my family history and acknowledge the intergenerational trauma that runs through Indigenous families.

Like many others, I have thought about taking my own life. There were a myriad of factors that led to that point, and a myriad of factors that led to me not following through. But one of the factors was the immense weight of intergenerational trauma that I believe is embedded into my heart, mind and soul and at times feels too heavy a burden to carry.

We can break this cycle of trauma. We need culturally safe Indigenous-designed suicide prevention programs and to destigmatise conversations around mental health. My hope is that, by sharing my own experiences of dealing with this complex subject, other people will be able to see that intergenerational trauma affects all of our mob.

The more we identify and acknowledge it, we’ll be stronger together “

Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru woman and on the RUOK? Indigenous Advisory committee that has launched the Stronger Together campaign targeted at help-givers – those in our communities who can offer help to those who are struggling ;

See full story Part 2 Below or HERE

R U OK? has launched STRONGER TOGETHER, a targeted suicide prevention campaign to encourage conversation within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Developed with the guidance and oversight of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group and 33 Creative, an Aboriginal owned and managed agency, the campaign encourages individuals to engage and offer support to their family and friends who are struggling with life. Positive and culturally appropriate resources have been developed to help individuals feel more confident in starting conversations by asking R U OK?

The STRONGER TOGETHER campaign message comes at a time when reducing rates of  suicide looms as one of the biggest and most important challenges of our generation.

Suicide is one of the most common causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Islander people. A 2016 report noted that on average, over 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people end their lives through suicide each year, with the rate of suicide twice as high as that recorded for other Australians [1]. These are not just numbers. They represent lives and loved ones; relatives, friends, elders and extended community members affected by such tragic deaths.

STRONGER TOGETHER includes the release of four community announcement video

The video series showcases real conversations in action between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advocates and role models.

The focus is on individuals talking about their experiences and the positive impact that sharing them had while they were going through a tough time.

“That weekend, I had the most deep and meaningful and beautiful conversations with my Dad that I never had.

My Dad was always a staunch dude and I was always trying to put up a front to, I guess, make my Dad proud. But we sat there, and we cried to each other.

I started to find myself and that’s when I came to the point of realising that, you know, I’m lucky to be alive and I had a second chance to help other people.”

When we talk, we are sharing, and our people have always shared, for thousands of years we’ve shared experiences, shared love. The only way we get out of those tough times is by sharing and talking and I hope this series helps to spread that message.”

Former NRL player and welterweight boxer Joe Williams has lent his voice to the series.

Born in Cowra, Joe is a proud Wiradjuri man. Although forging a successful professional sporting career, Joe has battled with suicidal ideation and bipolar disorder. After a suicide attempt in 2012, a phone call to a friend and then his family’s support encouraged him to seek professional psychiatric help.

Australian sports pioneer Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM has also lent her voice to the series. Marcia Ella-Duncan is an Aboriginal woman from La Perouse, Sydney, with traditional connection to the Walbunga people on the NSW Far South Coast, and kinship connection to the Bidigal, the traditional owners of the Botany Bay area.

“Sometimes, all we can do is listen, all we can do is be there with you. And sometimes that might be all you need. Or sometimes it’s just the first step towards a much longer journey,” said Marcia.

Click here to access the STRONGER TOGETHER resources on the RUOK? website.

If you or someone you know needs support, go to:  ruok.org.au/findhelp

Part 2

Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru woman and on the RUOK? Indigenous Advisory committee that has launched the Stronger Together campaign targeted at help-givers – those in our communities who can offer help to those who are struggling ;

Originally Published the Guardian and IndigenousX

It is unacceptable and a national disgrace that there have been at least 35 suicides of Indigenous people this year – in just 12 weeks – and three were children only 12 years old.

The Kimberley region – where my mob are from – has the highest rate of suicide in the country. If the Kimberley was a country it would have the worst suicide rate in the world.

A recent inquest investigated 13 deaths which occurred in the Kimberley region in less than four years, including five children aged between 10 and 13.

Western Australia’s coroner said the deaths had been shaped by “the crushing effects of intergenerational trauma”.

When we’re talking about Indigenous suicide, we have to talk about intergenerational trauma; the transfer of the impacts of historical trauma and grief to successive generations.

These multiple layers of trauma can have a “cumulative effect and increase the risk of destructive behaviours including suicide”. Many of our communities are, in essence, “not just going about the day, but operating in crisis mode on a daily basis.”

I have struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’m 32 years old and only this year did I have the first psychologist ever ask me about my family history and acknowledge the intergenerational trauma that runs through Indigenous families.

Like many others, I have thought about taking my own life. There were a myriad of factors that led to that point, and a myriad of factors that led to me not following through. But one of the factors was the immense weight of intergenerational trauma that I believe is embedded into my heart, mind and soul and at times feels too heavy a burden to carry.

Indigenous suicide is different. Suicide is a complex issue, there is not one cause, reason, trigger or risk – it can be a web of many indicators. But with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people intergenerational trauma and the flow-on effects of colonisation, dispossession, genocide, cultural destruction and the stolen generations are paramount to understanding high Indigenous suicide rates.

When you think about the fact that most Indigenous families have been affected, in one or more generations, by the forcible removal of one or more children, that speaks volumes. The institutionalisation of our mob has had dire consequences on our sense of being, mental health, connection to family and culture.

Just think about that for a moment. If every Indigenous family has been affected by this, of course trauma is transmitted down through generations and manifests into impacts on children resulting from weakened attachment relationships with caregivers, challenged parenting skills and family functioning, parental physical and mental illness, and disconnection and alienation from the extended family, culture and society.

The high rates of poor physical health, mental health problems, addiction, incarceration, domestic violence, self-harm and suicide in Indigenous communities are directly linked to experiences of trauma. These issues are both results of historical trauma and causes of new instances of trauma which together can lead to a vicious cycle in Indigenous communities.

Our families have been stripped of the coping mechanisms that all people need to thrive and survive. And while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are resilient, we are also human.

Our history does shape us. Let’s start from colonisation. My mob the Yawuru people from Rubibi (Broome) were often brutally dislocated from our lands, and stripped of our livelihood. Our culture was desecrated and we were used for slave labour.

My great-grandmother was taken from her father when she was very young and placed in a mission in Western Australia. My grandmother and aunties then all finished up in the same mission. And two of those aunties spent a considerable time in an orphanage in Broome, although they were not orphans.

In 1907, a telegram from Broome station was sent to Henry Prinsep, the “Chief Protector of Aborigines for Western Australia” in Perth. It reads: “Send cask arsenic exterminate aborigines letter will follow.” This gives a glimpse of the thinking of the time and that of course played out in traumatic and dehumanising ways.

In the late 1940s a magistrate in the court of Broome refused my great-grandmother’s application for a certificate of citizenship under the Native Citizen Rights Act of Western Australia. Part of his reasons for refusing her application was that she had not adopted the manner and habits of civilised life.

My anglo grandfather was imprisoned for breaching the Native Administration Act of Western Australia, in that he was cohabiting with my grandmother. He was jailed for loving my jamuny (grandmother/father’s mother).

My dad lost his parents when he was 10 years old. My grandfather died in tragic circumstances – and then my grandmother, again in tragic circumstances, soon after.

My dad was collected by family in Katherine and taken to Darwin. There was a fear that he would be taken away – Indigenous families knew well the ways of the Native Welfare authorities, and I suspect they were protecting my dad from that fate. Unlike many Indigenous families, he was permitted to stay with them and became a state child in the care of our family.

My family has suffered from ongoing systematic racism and research has shown that racism impacts Aboriginal people in the same way as a traumatic event.

My family and community have suffered premature deaths from suicide, preventable health issues, grief and inextricable trauma.

We can break this cycle of trauma. We need culturally safe Indigenous-designed suicide prevention programs and to destigmatise conversations around mental health. My hope is that, by sharing my own experiences of dealing with this complex subject, other people will be able to see that intergenerational trauma affects all of our mob. The more we identify and acknowledge it, we’ll be stronger together.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SuicidePrevention News Alerts : #Closethegap : #NACCHO and @TheRACP Peak Health bodies call for Prime Minister and state and territory leaders to declare Aboriginal youth #suicide crisis an urgent national health priority

The recent Aboriginal youth suicides represent a national emergency that demands immediate attention.

Aboriginal community controlled health services need to be properly resourced to ensure our children are having regular health checks and to develop community led solutions.’

NACCHO CEO, Ms Patricia Turner : See NACCHO RACP press release : see Part 1 below

See all 130 + NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Suicide Prevention articles published over last 7 years 

“Funded programs are not required to demonstrate a measurable reduction in suicide and mental health risk factors, which is staggering,

We just aren’t demanding that basic level of accountability

The first priority must be analyses of suicide mortality data to identify the causal pathways,  

Suicide risk is the most complex thing to assess and monitor … communities are crying out for specialist assistance and just not getting it. “Children as young as 10 are dying by suicide … this is no longer an Aboriginal issue, it’s a national one,

Indigenous psychologist Adjunct Professor Tracy Westerman said Australia had failed to collect crucial evidence to determine what intervention strategies work. See Part 2 below 

 ” Community driven action plans to prevent suicide are extending across the Kimberley, with four more communities implementing plans to save lives and improve health and well-being.

As part of the Kimberley Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Trial, Kununurra, Balgo, Wyndham and Halls Creek now have local plans, joining Broome, Derby and Bidyadanga.

Each community receives up to $130,000 to help roll out its action plan which reflects and responds to local issues

See Minister Ken Wyatt Press Release and Communique Part 3 and 4 Below

Part 1 RACP and NACCHO Press Release

JOINT STATEMENT

HEALTH BODIES DECLARE ABORIGINAL YOUTH SUICIDE AN URGENT NATIONAL PRIORITY

  • Health bodies call for Prime Minister and state and territory leaders to declare urgent national health priority
  • Immediate investment in Aboriginal-led mental health and wellbeing services needed to stop child deaths
  • Long-term solution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination requires commitment to Uluru Statement from the Heart

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) are calling on the Prime Minister to make tackling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicides a national health priority.

Suicide was once unknown to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but now every community has been affected by suicide.

In response to the recent Aboriginal youth suicides and the release of the WA Coroner’s report on the inquest into the deaths of thirteen children and young persons in the Kimberley Region, we are calling on the Prime Minister and state and territory leaders to put the issue at the top of the COAG agenda and to implement a coordinated crisis response to urgently scale up Aboriginal led mental health services before more young lives are tragically lost.

An urgent boost to Aboriginal community controlled health services is required to build on the existing range of initiatives that are being rolled out. We also call on the Government to expand upon evidence-based resilience and cultural connection programs to be adapted and attuned to local needs.

We are calling on the Federal Government to:

  • Provide secure and long-term funding to Aboriginal community controlled health services to expand their mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, suicide prevention, and alcohol and other drugs services, using best-practice traumainformed approaches
  • Increase funding for ACCHSs to employ staff to deliver mental health and social and emotional wellbeing services, including psychologists, psychiatrists, speech pathologists, mental health workers and other professionals and workers;
  • Increase the delivery of training to Aboriginal health practitioners to establish and/or consolidate skills development in mental health care and support, including suicide prevention
  • Commit to developing a comprehensive strategy to build resilience and facilitate healing from intergenerational trauma, designed and delivered in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

RACP spokesperson Dr Mick Creati, said: “The unspeakable child suicide tragedy that has been unfolding requires a national response and the attention of the Prime Minister. Unless we see urgent boost to investment in Aboriginal-led mental health services then the deaths will continue.”

RANZCP President Dr Kym Jenkins, said: ‘We must address the factors underlying suicidality in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including intergenerational trauma, disadvantage and distress. For this, we urgently need an increased capacity of mental health and wellbeing services to help people and communities recover from trauma and build resilience for the future.’

Part 2 Leaders urged to declare Aboriginal child suicides a ‘national crisis’

 Kate Aubusson From the Brisbane Times 20 March 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison must declare Indigenous child suicides a national emergency and overhaul current strategies, peak medical and health bodies have demanded.

The call comes in the wake of harrowing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child suicide rates, and the WA coroner’s inquest into the deaths of 13 young people, five aged between 10 and 13 years in the Kimberley region.

A joint statement from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has urged Mr Morrison and all state and territory leaders to make Indigenous youth suicides an “urgent national health priority”.

The organisations called on the leaders to launch a “coordinated crisis response” and invest in Aboriginal-led strategies “before more young lives are tragically lost”.

In January, five Aboriginal girls aged between 12 and 15 years took their own lives.

The latest ABS data shows Indigenous children aged 10 to 14 die of suicide at 8.4 times the rate of non-Indigenous children. One in four aged under 18 who suicided were Aboriginal.

None of the 13 children who died by suicide had a mental health assessment, according to the coroner’s report.

The international journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health recently called Australia’s Indigenous youth suicide rate an “unmitigated crisis”.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner said the recent Aboriginal youth suicides was “a national emergency that demands immediate attention”.

The joint statement called for Indigenous community-led solutions, long-term funding boosts to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) for best-practice and trauma-informed mental health, suicide prevention, and drug and alcohol programs.

The organisations also pushed for more ACCHS funding to employ more psychologists, psychiatrists, speech pathologists and mental health workers, increase training for Aboriginal health practitioners to develop a comprehensive strategy focused on resilience and intergenerational trauma healing.

In September the Morrison government announced $36 million in national suicide prevention projects.

Paediatrician with Victorian Aboriginal Health Service Dr Mick Creati said Indigenous suicides could not be prevented by a “white bread psychiatry model”.

Aboriginal suicides were often radically different from those among the general population, research shows. They were more likely to be impulsive, potentially triggered by some kind of interpersonal conflict.

The crisis demanded a “different, culturally appropriate model”, Dr Creati said.

“We don’t know exactly what the right model is yet … but Aboriginal people need to be included [in their development] to make sure they are appropriate for Aboriginal populations.”

But Indigenous psychologist Adjunct Professor Tracy Westerman said Australia had failed to collect crucial evidence to determine what intervention strategies work.

“Funded programs are not required to demonstrate a measurable reduction in suicide and mental health risk factors, which is staggering,” Professor Westerman said.

“We just aren’t demanding that basic level of accountability”.

The first priority must be analyses of suicide mortality data to identify the causal pathways,  Professor Westerman said.

“Suicide risk is the most complex thing to assess and monitor … communities are crying out for specialist assistance and just not getting it. “Children as young as 10 are dying by suicide … this is no longer an Aboriginal issue, it’s a national one,” she said.

Part 3 The eighth meeting of the Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial Working Group was held on 14 March in Broome communique

The Working Group discussed the findings of WA Coroner’s Report into suicide deaths in the Kimberley and continued its consideration of resources and strategies to support activity as part of the suicide Prevention trial.

The meeting today was chaired by the Hon Ken Wyatt, Minister for Indigenous Health (Commonwealth) and attended by the Hon Roger Cook, Deputy Premier and Minister for Health (WA State Government), Senator the Hon Patrick Dodson (Commonwealth) and Member for the Kimberley, the Hon Josie Farrer MLC (WA State Government). Apologies were received from the Hon Ben Wyatt, Minister for Indigenous Affairs (WA State Government).

The meeting was also attended by over 40 representatives from communities, organisations and government agencies.

Key messages from today’s discussion included:

  • A shared commitment to work together at all levels of government to develop place-based, and Aboriginal-led and designed responses.
  • A commitment to ongoing collaboration.
  • Acknowledgement of the good work achieved thus far – but noting more needs to be done.
  • The role of the community liaison officers on the ground across Kimberley communities was highlighted as an example of good progress – connecting services and projects with what people want.
  • The need to continue mapping services was agreed.
  • The need for holistic approaches was highlighted.
  • Community organisations are keen to work with the State and Commonwealth Governments on solutions that address the recommendations in relation to the report of the WA Coronial Inquest and all other referenced reports.

Part 4 Minister Wyatt Press release

Community driven action plans to prevent suicide are extending across the Kimberley, with four more communities implementing plans to save lives and improve health and well-being.

As part of the Kimberley Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Trial, Kununurra, Balgo, Wyndham and Halls Creek now have local plans, joining Broome, Derby and Bidyadanga.

Each community receives up to $130,000 to help roll out its action plan which reflects and responds to local issues.

However, the four new plans have a common thread – they are centred on people working and walking together on country, with a series of camps involving high-risk groups.

The camps are planned to provide a range of supports around suicide including healing and sharing and respecting cultural knowledge and traditions. They will also support close engagement with Elders.

A strong cultural framework underpins all the Trial’s activities and all the projects identified by the communities fit within the systems-based approach, guided by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP).

Nine communities are involved in the Kimberley Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Trial, with Community Liaison Officers playing a critical role.

The outcomes will contribute to a national evaluation which aims to find the most effective approaches to suicide prevention for at-risk populations and share this knowledge across Australia.

The Morrison Government is supporting the Kimberley Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Trial with $4 million over four years, from 2016-2020.

It is one of 12 Suicide Prevention Trials being conducted across the nation, with total funding of $48 million.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SuicidePrevention : Minister @KenWyattMP @SenatorDodson and KAMS ACCHO respond to 42 recommendations of WA Coroner inquiry into the deaths of 13 Aboriginal children and young persons in the Kimberley region between 2012 and 2016


” Today, Western Australian State Coroner, Ros Fogliani, released her report of the investigation into the suicide deaths of 13 Indigenous young people that occurred between November 2012 and March 2016 in the Kimberley Region.

I cannot adequately express my sense of grief at the deaths of these young people. 

Nor can I ever comprehend the loss and devastation their families and their communities are feeling.

The families and communities who have experienced these tragedies have been deeply affected and the pain will never leave them.

The high rate of suicide among young First Australians is one of the nation’s most confronting challenges.

Minister Ken Wyatt Press Release see Part 1 Below

Download the 42 Recommendations 

13-Children-and-Young-Persons-in-the-Kimberley-Region-Finding

Key recommendations from the inquest:

  • Screen for foetal alcohol spectrum disorder during infant health assessments and when a child enters the child protection or justice systems for the first time
  • Restrict take away alcohol across the entire region, introduce a banned drinker register, resource police to enforce “sly grogging” regulations and provide more funding for patrols to take intoxicated people to a “safe place”
  • Extend an offer of a voluntary cashless debit card to the entire region
  • Build culturally-appropriate residential colleges for students who volunteer to be admitted with the consent of their parents and/or caregivers
  • Build a mental health facility in the East Kimberley that incorporates treatment for alcohol and drug abuse problems, and permanently base a mental health clinician in Halls Creek
  • Train child protection workers and teachers who have regular contact with Aboriginal children in suicide intervention and prevention
  • Expand the “Adopt-a-Cop” classroom program to improve the relationship between children and police, and expand a program where Aboriginal elders help conduct night patrols and speak with children on the streets
  • Introduce or continue to expand Aboriginal language classes in schools, and introduce re-engagement classrooms in primary schools to improve attendance rates
  • Consult more with Aboriginal people to “co-design” services and programs
  • Expand cultural programs including on-country trips, and develop or refurbish facilities for young people to meet and engage in activities.

“ The report handed down today must not join the 42 reports into Aboriginal well-being delivered over the last 15 years that simply sit and gather dust. This report must lead a paradigm shift that leads to community-led solutions that address the clear sense of suffering, hopelessness and disillusionment that is being felt.

We must continue to work towards building mabu ngarrungu, strong community, and mabu buru, strong country. Essential to this is mabu liyan – being well inside ourselves through strong connections to family, community and country. Government must understand us and our thinking around culture and well-being and not continue to simply impose its own views.

There is hope for a better way of doing things and to stop this sadness. It requires a resolve to work with First Nations peoples to establish new ways.”

Senator Patrick Dodson See full Press Release Part 2 Below

The issues are complex. It is not something that we can simply resolve by one program or one set of funding. It is something we need to tackle across the community with the help of the government,

A shift in the way major support services approach remote communities is needed to address the specific needs.

I think we’ve got a lot of mainstream services trying to impose a particular model on the needs of the community. What we really need is to work with the community to understand what are the needs; and design the services to respond to the needs.

“We can’t continue to impose things because an organisation simply says they’re the best organisation to deliver it.”

Rob McPhee, Deputy CEO of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, said it was going to take years to tackle the complex issues that arose in the report, but action was needed.

“I think it’s a real difference to the language I have heard previously. I thought there was recognition of all the issues that contribute to Indigenous suicide,

I think it’s not only good for the Kimberley, the outcomes, but it’s good for the whole country.”

To hear the recommendations about the social determinants, that holistic approaches are required,” 

Indigenous Health Professor Pat Dudgeon at the University of Western Australia said she felt the report showed recognition to the issues that have contributed to Indigenous suicide.

View further Interview HERE

The RACGP and National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)’s National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people includes sections relevant to suicide intervention and prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth:

  • Child health – FASD, prevention of child maltreatment, and supporting families to optimise child safety and wellbeing
  • The health of young people – social and emotional wellbeing and drug use
  • Mental health – prevention of depression and suicide
  • Lifestyle – including alcohol
  • Family abuse and violence

Read over 130+ Aboriginal Health and Suicide Prevention Articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years 

Part 1

Our national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide death rate is more than double the rate of the rest of Australian society. And among 15 to 34 year olds, it’s three times as high.

The inquest has found common elements and factors contributing to the suicide deaths of the 13 young people.

These include alcohol abuse, domestic violence, poor living conditions and poor school attendance. Tragically, these young people were never able to reach out for help from support services.

There are 42 recommendations in Ms Fogliani’s report. These recommendations have been made to help target the causes of the issues.

A number of recommendations highlighted the need for suicide programs to be culturally sensitive, and that genuine and empowered relationships with First Nations communities are critical for the success of any program.

The report also highlights the need for better coordination between government agencies responsible for suicide prevention, and has recommended a Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People be established.

The Australian Government has taken prompt action to address youth suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

On 25 January 2019, I hosted an urgent meeting in Perth with experts and members from the communities to discuss how best to respond to these recent tragedies.

As a result, an additional almost $5 million has been provided for a range of initiatives, including:

  • fast tracking the rollout of the Be You school-based support in the Kimberley and Pilbara
  • delivering of a targeted social media campaign
  • expanding of the Young Ambassadors for Mental Health project to include a special focus in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth
  • supporting to families dealing with grief with a focus on suicide prevention.
  • commitment to working with my WA state colleagues.

The Australian Government also provides $4 million to each of the 12 National Suicide Prevention Trial sites, including two sites for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Kimberley and Darwin.

The report provides a unique opportunity to rethink how we do things with local communities.

I will be reviewing the coroner’s report as a matter of urgency.

The Australian Government will carefully consider the WA Coroner’s report and recommendations. These will inform the Government’s approach towards the issue of Indigenous suicide in the Kimberley region going forward.

Part  2

Today is a difficult day for the Kimberley and the families of those who passed away.

Today, after nearly three years, State Coroner Ros Fogliani has delivered her findings in a significant inquiry into the deaths of 13 Aboriginal children and young persons in the Kimberley region between 2012 and 2016.

The Coroner’s findings were handed down in Perth, and live-streamed to the Regional Courts of Broome, Kununurra, Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek. I sat in the Broome Court and it was crowded with a good cross-section of the community.

This inquiry confirms what we already know – we have a crisis in the Kimberley. The rate of suicide in the Kimberley by Indigenous people, in particular young Indigenous people, is amongst the highest in the world. The Coroner reinforced the well-known social determinants of well-being which First Nations peoples live in.

Ten years have passed since the last major inquiry into the deaths of young Indigenous people – the Hope Inquest. Today confirms yet again, we have made little or no progress.

Clearly, the policies and service delivery that address suicide in our communities are failing and our people are losing hope. Too much seems to be reliant on being delivered from the outside and not from within our community or the Kimberley.

Today, on this day of sorrow and reflection, we must re-think the way we address Indigenous youth suicide.

There needs to be a new form of engagement with Indigenous communities and young people need to have a voice and role in future initiatives if we are to fix the issues and deliver the opportunities for change in the future.

The Coroner, in her final key recommendation, emphasised the principles of self-determination and empowerment in initiatives, policies and programs relating to First Nations peoples. She has relied on the expressed aspirations of the Western Australian Government. The Western Australian Government must now honour this with First Nations people.

Any new approach must be informed by a rigorous analysis of the values driving the delivery of services. It must be holistic and therapeutic – addressing the complex needs of entrenched socio-economic disadvantage, unresolved trauma, cultural disruption, and systemic social exclusion and disempowerment. We need to prioritise programs that value cultural imperatives and programs controlled by Indigenous people.

There is no magical solution to be handed down by government. But government must work in collaboration with communities to achieve a new social order

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth and #JunkFood : Increasing how much exercise we get and switching to a healthy diet can also play an important role in treating – and even preventing – depression

” The review found that across 41 studies, people who stuck to a healthy diet had a 24-35% lower risk of depressive symptoms than those who ate more unhealthy foods.

These findings suggest improving your diet could be a cost-effective complementary treatment for depression and could reduce your risk of developing a mental illness.

From the Conversation / Megan Lee

 ” NACCHO Campaign 2013 : Our ‘Aboriginal communities should take health advice from the fast food industry’ a campaign that eventually went global, reaching more than  20 million Twitter followers.”

See over 60 NACCHO Healthy Foods Articles HERE

See over 200 NACCHO Mental Health articles HERE 

Worldwide, more than 300 million people live with depression. Without effective treatment, the condition can make it difficult to work and maintain relationships with family and friends.

Depression can cause sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, and a lack of interest in activities that are usually pleasurable. At its most extreme, it can lead to suicide.

Depression has long been treated with medication and talking therapies – and they’re not going anywhere just yet. But we’re beginning to understand that increasing how much exercise we get and switching to a healthy diet can also play an important role in treating – and even preventing – depression.

So what should you eat more of, and avoid, for the sake of your mood?

Ditch junk food

Research suggests that while healthy diets can reduce the risk or severity of depression, unhealthy diets may increase the risk.

Of course, we all indulge from time to time but unhealthy diets are those that contain lots of foods that are high in energy (kilojoules) and low on nutrition. This means too much of the foods we should limit:

  • processed and takeaway foods
  • processed meats
  • fried food
  • butter
  • salt
  • potatoes
  • refined grains, such as those in white bread, pasta, cakes and pastries
  • sugary drinks and snacks.

The average Australian consumes 19 serves of junk food a week, and far fewer serves of fibre-rich fresh food and wholegrains than recommended. This leaves us overfed, undernourished and mentally worse off.

Here’s what to eat instead

Mix it up. Anna Pelzer

Having a healthy diet means consuming a wide variety of nutritious foods every day, including:

  • fruit (two serves per day)
  • vegetables (five serves)
  • wholegrains
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • oily fish
  • dairy products
  • small quantities of meat
  • small quantities of olive oil
  • water.

This way of eating is common in Mediterranean countries, where people have been identified as having lower rates of cognitive decline, depression and dementia.

In Japan, a diet low in processed foods and high in fresh fruit, vegetables, green tea and soy products is recognised for its protective role in mental health.

How does healthy food help?

A healthy diet is naturally high in five food types that boost our mental health in different ways:

Complex carbohydrates found in fruits, vegetables and wholegrains help fuel our brain cells. Complex carbohydrates release glucose slowly into our system, unlike simple carbohydrates (found in sugary snacks and drinks), which create energy highs and lows throughout the day. These peaks and troughs decrease feelings of happiness and negatively affect our psychological well-being.

Antioxidants in brightly coloured fruit and vegetables scavenge free radicals, eliminate oxidative stress and decrease inflammation in the brain. This in turn increases the feelgood chemicals in the brain that elevate our mood.

Omega 3 found in oily fish and B vitamins found in some vegetables increase the production of the brain’s happiness chemicals and have been known to protect against both dementia and depression.

Salmon is an excellent source of omega 3. Caroline Attwood

Pro and prebiotics found in yoghurt, cheese and fermented products boost the millions of bacteria living in our gut. These bacteria produce chemical messengers from the gut to the brain that influence our emotions and reactions to stressful situations.

Research suggests pro- and prebiotics could work on the same neurological pathways that antidepressants do, thereby decreasing depressed and anxious states and elevating happy emotions.

What happens when you switch to a healthy diet?

An Australian research team recently undertook the first randomised control trial studying 56 individuals with depression.

Over a 12-week period, 31 participants were given nutritional consulting sessions and asked to change from their unhealthy diets to a healthy diet. The other 25 attended social support sessions and continued their usual eating patterns.

The participants continued their existing antidepressant and talking therapies during the trial.

At the end of the trial, the depressive symptoms of the group that maintained a healthier diet significantly improved. Some 32% of participants had scores so low they no longer met the criteria for depression, compared with 8% of the control group.

The trial was replicated by another research team, which found similar results, and supported by a recent review of all studies on dietary patterns and depression. The review found that across 41 studies, people who stuck to a healthy diet had a 24-35% lower risk of depressive symptoms than those who ate more unhealthy foods.

These findings suggest improving your diet could be a cost-effective complementary treatment for depression and could reduce your risk of developing a mental illness.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth and #SuicidePrevention : @ozprodcom issues paper on #MentalHealth in Australia is now available. It asks a range of questions which they seek information and feedback on. Submissions or comments are due by Friday 5 April.

 ” Many Australians experience difficulties with their mental health. Mental illness is the single largest contributor to years lived in ill-health and is the third largest contributor (after cancer and cardiovascular conditions) to a reduction in the total years of healthy life for Australians (AIHW 2016).

Almost half of all Australian adults have met the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety, mood or substance use disorder at some point in their lives, and around 20% will meet the criteria in a given year (ABS 2008). This is similar to the average experience of developed countries (OECD 2012, 2014).”

Download the PC issues paper HERE mental-health-issues

See Productivity Commission Website for More info 

“Clearly Australia’s mental health system is failing Aboriginal people, with Aboriginal communities devastated by high rates of suicide and poorer mental health outcomes. Poor mental health in Aboriginal communities often stems from historic dispossession, racism and a poor sense of connection to self and community. 

It is compounded by people’s lack of access to meaningful and ongoing education and employment. Drug and alcohol related conditions are also commonly identified in persons with poor mental health.

NACCHO Chairperson, Matthew Cooke 2015 Read in full Here 

Read over 200 Aboriginal Mental Health Suicide Prevention articles published by NACCHO over the past 7 years 

Despite a plethora of past reviews and inquiries into mental health in Australia, and positive reforms in services and their delivery, many people are still not getting the support they need to maintain good mental health or recover from episodes of mental ill‑health. Mental health in Australia is characterised by:

  • more than 3 100 deaths from suicide in 2017, an average of almost 9 deaths per day, and a suicide rate for Indigenous Australians that is much higher than for other Australians (ABS 2018)
  • for those living with a mental illness, lower average life expectancy than the general population with significant comorbidity issues — most early deaths of psychiatric patients are due to physical health conditions
  • gaps in services and supports for particular demographic groups, such as youth, elderly people in aged care facilities, Indigenous Australians, individuals from culturally diverse backgrounds, and carers of people with a mental illness
  • a lack of continuity in care across services and for those with episodic conditions who may need services and supports on an irregular or non-continuous basis
  • a variety of programs and supports that have been successfully trialled or undertaken for small populations but have been discontinued or proved difficult to scale up for broader benefits
  • significant stigma and discrimination around mental ill-health, particularly compared with physical illness.

The Productivity Commission has been asked to undertake an inquiry into the role of mental health in supporting social and economic participation, and enhancing productivity and economic growth (these terms are defined, for the purpose of this inquiry, in box 1).

By examining mental health from a participation and contribution perspective, this inquiry will essentially be asking how people can be enabled to reach their potential in life, have purpose and meaning, and contribute to the lives of others. That is good for individuals and for the whole community.

Background

In 2014-15, four million Australians reported having experienced a common mental disorder.

Mental health is a key driver of economic participation and productivity in Australia, and hence has the potential to impact incomes and living standards and social engagement and connectedness. Improved population mental health could also help to reduce costs to the economy over the long term.

Australian governments devote significant resources to promoting the best possible mental health and wellbeing outcomes. This includes the delivery of acute, recovery and rehabilitation health services, trauma informed care, preventative and early intervention programs, funding non-government organisations and privately delivered services, and providing income support, education, employment, housing and justice. It is important that policy settings are sustainable, efficient and effective in achieving their goals.

Employers, not-for-profit organisations and carers also play key roles in the mental health of Australians. Many businesses are developing initiatives to support and maintain positive mental health outcomes for their employees as well as helping employees with mental illhealth continue to participate in, or return to, work.

Scope of the inquiry

The Commission should consider the role of mental health in supporting economic participation, enhancing productivity and economic growth. It should make recommendations, as necessary, to improve population mental health, so as to realise economic and social participation and productivity benefits over the long term.

Without limiting related matters on which the Commission may report, the Commission should:

  • examine the effect of supporting mental health on economic and social participation, productivity and the Australian economy;
  • examine how sectors beyond health, including education, employment, social services, housing and justice, can contribute to improving mental health and economic participation and productivity;
  • examine the effectiveness of current programs and Initiatives across all jurisdictions to improve mental health, suicide prevention and participation, including by governments, employers and professional groups;
  • assess whether the current investment in mental health is delivering value for money and the best outcomes for individuals, their families, society and the economy;
  • draw on domestic and international policies and experience, where appropriate; and
  • develop a framework to measure and report the outcomes of mental health policies and investment on participation, productivity and economic growth over the long term.

The Commission should have regard to recent and current reviews, including the 2014 Review of National Mental Health Programmes and Services undertaken by the National Mental Health Commission and the Commission’s reviews into disability services and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The Issues Paper
The Commission has released this issues paper to assist individuals and organisations to participate in the inquiry. It contains and outlines:

  • the scope of the inquiry
  • matters about which we are seeking comment and information
  • how to share your views on the terms of reference and the matters raised.

Participants should not feel that they are restricted to comment only on matters raised in the issues paper. We want to receive information and comment on any issues that participants consider relevant to the inquiry’s terms of reference.

Key inquiry dates

Receipt of terms of reference 23 November 2018
Initial consultations November 2018 to April 2019
Initial submissions due 5 April 2019
Release of draft report Timing to be advised
Post draft report public hearings Timing to be advised
Submissions on the draft report due Timing to be advised
Consultations on the draft report November 2019 to February 2020
Final report to Government 23 May 2020

Submissions and brief comments can be lodged

Online (preferred): https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/mental-health/submissions
By post: Mental Health Inquiry
Productivity Commission
GPO Box 1428, Canberra City, ACT 2601

Contacts

Inquiry matters: Tracey Horsfall Ph: 02 6240 3261
Freecall number: Ph: 1800 020 083
Website: http://www.pc.gov.au/mental-health

Subscribe for inquiry updates

To receive emails updating you on the inquiry consultations and releases, subscribe to the inquiry at: http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/mentalhealth/subscribe

 

 Definition of key terms
Mental health is a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

Mental illness or mental disorder is a health problem that significantly affects how a person feels, thinks, behaves and interacts with other people. It is diagnosed according to standardised criteria.

Mental health problem refers to some combination of diminished cognitive, emotional, behavioural and social abilities, but not to the extent of meeting the criteria for a mental illness/disorder.

Mental ill-health refers to diminished mental health from either a mental illness/disorder or a mental health problem.

Social and economic participation refers to a range of ways in which people contribute to and have the resources, opportunities and capability to learn, work, engage with and have a voice in the community. Social participation can include social engagement, participation in decision making, volunteering, and working with community organisations. Economic participation can include paid employment (including self-employment), training and education.

Productivity measures how much people produce from a given amount of effort and resources. The greater their productivity, the higher their incomes and living standards will tend to be.

Economic growth is an increase in the total value of goods and services produced in an economy. This can be achieved, for example, by raising workforce participation and/or productivity.

Sources: AIHW (2018b); DOHA (2013); Gordon et al. (2015); PC (2013, 2016, 2017c); SCRGSP (2018); WHO (2001).

An improvement in an individual’s mental health can provide flow-on benefits in terms of increased social and economic participation, engagement and connectedness, and productivity in employment (figure 1).

This can in turn enhance the wellbeing of the wider community, including through more rewarding relationships for family and friends; a lower burden on informal carers; a greater contribution to society through volunteering and working in community groups; increased output for the community from a more productive workforce; and an associated expansion in national income and living standards. These raise the capacity of the community to invest in interventions to improve mental health, thereby completing a positive reinforcing loop.

The inquiry’s terms of reference (provided at the front of this paper) were developed by the Australian Government in consultation with State and Territory Governments. The terms of reference ask the Commission to make recommendations to improve population mental health so as to realise higher social and economic participation and contribution benefits over the long term.

Assessing the consequences of mental ill-health

The costs of mental ill-health for both individuals and the wider community will be assessed, as well as how these costs could be reduced through changes to the way governments and others deliver programs and supports to facilitate good mental health.

The Commission will consider the types of costs summarised in figure 4. These will be assessed through a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis, drawing on available data and cost estimates, and consultations with inquiry participants and topic experts. We welcome the views of inquiry participants on other costs that we should take into account.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SuicidePrevention Crisis : Five Indigenous teenage girls between the ages of 12 and 15 years of age have taken their own lives in the past few days. Comments from @TracyWesterman @joewilliams_tew @cultureislife @GerryGeorgatos

 

” Five indigenous teenage girls between the ages of 12 and 15 years of age have taken their own lives in the past nine days.

The most recent loss was of a 12-year-old Adelaide girl who died last Friday.

Three of the other cases occurred in Western Australia and one was in Queensland.

The spate of deaths, first reported by The Australian, is believed to have began on January 3, when a 15-year-old girl from Western Australia died in Townsville Hospital from injuries caused by self-harm. She had been visiting relatives in the beachside town.

A 12-year-old girl took her own life in South Headland, a mining town in WA, the next day.

On January 6, a 14-year-old also took her own life in Warnum, an Aboriginal community in the Kimberley.

Another 15-year-old indigenous girl is believed to have taken her own life in Perth’s south last Thursday, according to The Australian.

A 12-year-old boy is also on life support after what is believed to have been a suicide attempt. He remains in Brisbane Hospital where he was flown for treatment from Roma on Monday.

From news.com.au see Part 1 Below

Graphic above NITV see Part 3 article below

– Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention contact: Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or NACCHO find an Aboriginal Medical Service here.

There are resources for young people at Headspace Yarn Safe.

Read over 128 Aboriginal Health and Suicide Prevention articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years 

We have enormous amounts of funding injected into this critical area; yet, suicides continue to escalate. Our Indigenous youth are dying by suicide at EIGHT times the rate of non-Indigenous children and it is only right that we ask why this level of funding has had little to no impact.

There are actually two tragedies here; the continued loss of the beautiful young lives through suicide, and secondly, that all efforts to fund an adequate response capable of applying the science of what prevents suicide have failed.

I am as concerned that the primary focus is on encouraging people to simply ‘talk’ about suicide without the clinical and cultural best practice programs and therapies available to respond to this awareness raising, particularly in our remote areas.

Wasted opportunities for prevention are like an endless cycle in which money is thrown at band aid, crisis driven, reactive and ill-informed responses that disappear as fast as the latest headlines.

It is time to start demanding evidence of what works when we look at funded programs. Until we can get these answers, rates will continue to escalate.” 

Dr Tracy Westerman is a proud Njamal woman from the Pilbara region of Western Australia. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and Doctor of Philosophy (Clinical Psychology).

WEBSITE 

She is a recognised world leader in Aboriginal mental health, cultural competency and suicide prevention achieving national and international recognition for her work. This is despite coming from a background of disadvantage and one in which she had to undertake most of her tertiary entrance subjects by Distance Education. 2018 Western Australian of the Year

See Part 2 Below

” When a Suicide occurs; we are constantly telling people to ‘speak up’ when they aren’t well – it’s very easy to say that to people, but when you are hurting mentally, you can’t speak up, you don’t tell people yr not well and you pretend everything is ok whilst slowly dying inside!!

What’s stopping you from reaching in to help??

Don’t wait for people to speak up; start paying more attention to others; watch their behaviours, listen to how they respond.

If every person in the world pays attention to those close; family, kids, relatives, friends, work colleagues, team mates – then every person will be able to notice when someone isn’t well.

If we are not noticing, then I’m sorry, but we are not paying enough attention.

We are losing too many lives, every statistic is a person – don’t wait for others to reach out; reach in and help them when they feel silenced and it’s too hard for them to talk!!!

It starts with us – are we paying enough attention?

Joe Williams : Although forging a successful professional sporting career, Joe battled the majority of his life with suicidal ideation and Bi Polar Disorder. After a suicide attempt in 2012, Joe felt his purpose was to help people who struggle with mental illness. Joe is also an author having contributed to the book Transformation; Turning Tragedy Into Triumph & his very own autobiography titled Defying The Enemy Within – available in the shop section of this site.

Website 

In 2017 Joe was named as finalist in the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards for his work with suicide prevention and fighting for equality for Australia’s First Nations people and in 2018 Joe was conferred the highest honour of Australia’s most eminent Suicide Prevention organisation, Suicide Prevention Australia’s LiFE Award for his outstanding work in communities across Australia.

 “How can a child of 10 feel such ­despair that she would end her life? What must she have seen, heard and felt in such a short life to ­destroy all hope? What had she lived? How do her parents, her siblings, their communities live with the pain? How can they possibly endure the all-consuming grief of losing their child?

Now imagine if this were your child, your family, your close-knit community. Wouldn’t there be outrage, a wailing from the heart of overwhelming grief?

This is what is happening to ­indigenous children and young people in our country.”

See Part 4 Below : Love and hope can save young Aborigines in despair 

Published The Australian 17 January 

Download Press Release : culture is life press release 17 jan

Part 1 : Five indigenous girls take their own lives in nine-day period

“Suicides are predominantly borne of poverty and disparities,” said Gerry Georgatos, who heads up the federal government’s indigenous critical response team.

Writing in The Guardian, he described rural communities as being disparate from the rest of Australian society, where high incarceration rates infect communities, few complete schooling, employment is scant and “all hope is extinguished”.

He also said sexual abuse and self harm played a role in the suicides, with the recent spate taking the lives of young girls being “notable”.

The West Australian Government has advised that co-ordinators have been installed in every region of the state, alongside Aboriginal mental health programs.

These programs were introduced after a 2007 inquiry into 22 suicides across the Kimberley. The inquiry found the suicide rate was not due to mental illness such as “bipolar or schizophrenia” and that Aboriginal suicide was not for the most part attributable to individual mental illness.

It noted that the suicide rate, which had “doubled in five years”, was attributable to a governmental failure to respond to many reports.

Part 2 : It is time to start demanding evidence of what works when we look at funded programs. Until we can get these answers, rates will continue to escalate.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs has recently shared that the Commonwealth Government has allocated $134M of funding into Indigenous suicide prevention. If you look at the current suicide statistics this crudely translates to $248,000 per suicide death annually – without adding State funding into the mix.

We have enormous amounts of funding injected into this critical area; yet, suicides continue to escalate. Our Indigenous youth are dying by suicide at EIGHT times the rate of non-Indigenous children and it is only right that we ask why this level of funding has had little to no impact.

I am not privy to how funding decisions are made and I have ZERO funding for my services, research or programs but the gaps are sadly too clear and have been for decades.

As a country facing this growing tragedy, we still have no nationally accepted evidence-based programs across the spectrum of early intervention and prevention activities. This needs to be our first priority.

Currently, and staggeringly, funding does not require that programs demonstrate a measurable reduction in suicide and mental health risk factors in the communities in which they are delivered. This needs to be our second priority.

What this means is that we are not accumulating data or research evidence of ‘what works’. If we don’t evaluate programs and accumulate evidence, we have no hope of informing future practice to halt the intergenerational transmission of suicide risk. This needs to be a third priority.

Additionally, we are the only Indigenous culture in the world that has a virtual absence of mental health prevalence data. Until we have a widely accepted methodology for the screening of early stages of mental ill health and suicide risk, early intervention will remain elusive; evidence based programs cannot be determined and treatment efficacy not able to be monitored. This needs to be our fourth priority.

There are actually two tragedies here; the continued loss of the beautiful young lives through suicide, and secondly, that all efforts to fund an adequate response capable of applying the science of what prevents suicide have failed.

When suicide becomes entrenched, approaches need to be long term and sustainable. Report after report has pointed to the need for ‘evidence-based approaches’ but has anyone questioned why this continues to remain elusive?

When you have spent your life’s work working in Indigenous suicide prevention and self funding evidence based research, as I have, I can also tell you that despite extensive training the complex and devastating issue of suicide prevention challenges you at every level.

It challenges your core values about the right of people to choose death over life; it stretches you therapeutically despite your training in best practice; and it terrifies you that you have missed something long after you have left your at-risk client.

The nature of suicide risk is that it changes. Being able to predict and monitor suicide risk takes years and years of clinical and cultural expertise and well-honed clinical insight and judgement. Throw culture into the mix and this becomes a rare set of skills held by few in this country. Indeed, a senate inquiry in December found that not only are services lacking in remote and rural areas of Australia, but culturally appropriate services were often not accessible.

Funding decisions that are unsupported by clinical and cultural expertise in suicide prevention must be challenged and redirected in the best way possible. Toward the evidence.

Instead we have inquiry after inquiry, consultation after consultation, statistics and mortality data quoted by media purely to satisfy the latest ‘click bait’ 24-hour news cycle headline. On top of that, there are continued calls from those who receive large amounts of funding that they need “more funding”.

I am as concerned that the primary focus is on encouraging people to simply ‘talk’ about suicide without the clinical and cultural best practice programs and therapies available to respond to this awareness raising, particularly in our remote areas.

Wasted opportunities for prevention are like an endless cycle in which money is thrown at band aid, crisis driven, reactive and ill-informed responses that disappear as fast as the latest headlines.

It is time to start demanding evidence of what works when we look at funded programs. Until we can get these answers, rates will continue to escalate.

The time is now to make these changes and ask these questions. I am up for the challenge and have spent my life building and self-funding evidence of what can work to halt these tragic rates in Aboriginal communities and amongst our people. Will the decision makers join me in finding evidence-based ways to address this or continue to throw money at approaches and programs that are simply not working?

Aboriginal people deserve better, our future generations deserve better

Part 3 NITV  Indigenous youth suicide at crisis point

Originally published HERE 

Communities and families are mourning the loss of five young Aboriginal girls who took their own lives in separate incidents in Western Australia, Townsville and Adelaide this year.

In early January, a 15-year old girl from Western Australia died two-days after self-harming on a visit to Townsville.

Last Sunday, a 12-year old girl died in the Pilbara mining town of Port Hedland, followed by a 14-year old girl in the East Kimberley community of Warmun last Monday.

Another was a 15-year-old Noongar girl from Perth who died last Thursday and a fifth was a 12-year-old girl from a town near Adelaide who died last Friday.

Another 12-year-old boy is reportedly on life support at a hospital in Brisbane after what is suspected to be an attempted suicide. He was flown from Roma to Brisbane yesterday, The Australian reports.

The Director of Suicide Prevention Australia, Vanessa Lee, is calling on the federal government to support an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention strategy tailored specifically to meet the needs of Indigenous people.

“When are we going to see change… when are we going to see a national Indigenous suicide prevention strategy supported by the COAG, delivering for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Ms Lee said.

“We need to remember that Indigenous people know the solutions. We know the answers. We didn’t write the Redfern Statement  for a joke… funding needs to be put into Indigenous organisations, into Indigenous hands.”

Aboriginal people know the answers

“We need to remember that Indigenous people know the solutions, we know the answers” – Vanessa Lee

National coordinator for the National Child Sexual Abuse Trauma Recovery Project, Gerry Georgatos, told NITV News the recently reported suicides have weighed heavily on the affected families and communities.

“These incidences… have impacted –psycho-socially– the family. Hurt them to the bone. There are no words for anyone’s loss,” he said.

“To lose a child impacts ways that no other loss does, and to lose a child is a haunting experience straight from the beginning and doesn’t go away.”

South-western Noongar woman, Grace Cockie, lost her 16-year old daughter to suicide last March in their home in Perth.

“It was a devastating experience, I don’t ever want to go through that again and I don’t want no one else to go through that,” Ms Cockie told NITV News.

“She went to school every day. She loved going to school, hanging out with her friends, playing football with her Aunties.

“Part of us is gone… No one is going to replace her,” she said.

Ms Cockie wants other parents to encourage their children to speak-out if they feel unwell and said there needs to be more mental health initiatives which offer culturally supportive help for Aboriginal youth.

“Keep an eye on them and talk to them all the time,” she said.

“There’s a lot of avenues for whitefella kids, you know, and with our Aboriginal kids they’re probably too scared… they probably think they (mental health workers) won’t help them,” she said.

The Kimberley region faces alarming suicide rates

The deaths come as WA waits on a final report from an inquest into 13 Indigenous youth suicides in the Kimberley region from 2012 to 2016.

The Kimberley region has the highest Indigenous suicide rates in Australia – not just for Aboriginal youth, but for the entire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

The inquest by state coroner Ros Fogliani is expected to table findings early this year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found last month that Indigenous children aged between five and 17 died from suicide-related deaths at five times the rate of non-Indigenous children.

This rate was 10.1 deaths by suicide per 100,000 between 2013 and 2017, compared with 2 deaths by suicide per 100,000 for non-Indigenous children.

One in four people who took their own life before turning 18 were Aboriginal children.

Mr Georgatos said nine out of 10 suicides in the Kimberley region have involved Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

A senate inquiry in December found that not only are services lacking in remote and rural areas of Australia, but culturally appropriate services were often not accessible.

The inquiry found that the lack of culturally supportive services is leaving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing mental health services at a far lower rate than non-Indigenous people.

Mr Georgatos said that services aren’t accessible to the majority of people living in the Kimberley, saying that suicide prevention has come down to community support as opposed to accessible mental health professionals.

“Many of these communities [in the Kimberley region] have no services… It is forever community buy-in to support, to have a watchful eye …, but people become exhausted,” he said.

Mr Georgatos said he believes investing in local workforces that possess local cultural knowledge and training these workers to understand intense psychosocial support for young adults is the way forward.

Poverty the ‘driver’ towards suicide

Poverty and sexual abuse in the Kimberley region may be a leading factor for youth suicide, according to Mr Georgatos.

“Nearly 100 per cent of First Nations suicides… are of people living below the poverty line,” he said.

“Crushing poverty [in Kimberley and Pilbara] is the major driver of suicidal ideation, of distorted thinking, of unhappiness, of watching the world pass one by right from the beginning of life.

“One-eighth of First Nations people living in the Kimberley live in some form of homelessness… sixty per cent live below the poverty line.”

A Medical Journal of Australia report in 2016 showed seven per cent of all people living in the Kimberley were homeless.

Last year, forty per cent of youth suicides in Australia were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

“It is a humanitarian crisis… one-third of those suicides is identified as children of sexual abuse, and we don’t have the early intervention to disable the trauma of child sexual abuse,” Mr Georgatos said.

“We don’t have the early intervention and the trauma recovery for them, we don’t have the outreaches for them but what we also don’t have is the talking up and calling out of sexual predation in communities.”

Mr Georgatos said he believes if we have education in communities about what young children should do if they were to ever be predated upon, it would reduce the child internalising their trauma which may lead to suicidal ramifications.

“What we need to do is we need to outreach more personal on the ground to outreach into these communities to support them into pathways where they can access education,” Mr Georgatos said.

“We need more psychosocial support, people just to spread the love… to keep people on a journey to a positive and strong pathway and to ordered thinking, not disordered thinking.”

“We need more psychosocial support, people just to spread the love” – Gerry Georgatos.

Government supported resources

Australian youth mental health organization, headspace, last week received a $47 million funding boost from the federal government.

Chief Executive Officer, Jason Trethowan, told SBS World News the organisation will be working closely with Indigenous communities thanks to the new funding.

“We know there are challenges around rural remoteness and often headspace hasn’t been there for them… that’s why we have a trial going on in the Pilbara region of Western Australia where there are actually headspace services without a headspace centre,” he said.

Indigenous health minister, Ken Wyatt, told NITV News the federal government will continue to invest $3.9 billion over the next three years (from 2018-22) in Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to commission regionally and culturally appropriate mental health and suicide prevention services, particularly in the Kimberley and the Pilbara regions.

Currently the key active programs in these regions include the government’s $4 million Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial and the $2.2 million Pilbara headspace trial, which opened in April last year.

The Pilbara headspace trial was co-designed with local communities, including young people, service providers, community members and local Elders.

The Pilbara headspace team has staff located in Newman, Port Hedland and Karratha, with employees spending their time in schools, youth centres, Aboriginal Medical Services, community centres and other locations.

This allowing them to reach out to youth who may not typically engage with school or youth services, said Samara Clark, manager of headspace, Pilbara.

“It’s all about engagement first, building trust, building visibility,” she said.

“What we’re hoping for is positive help-seeking behaviour, where they feel safe and comfortable enough to come up to us,” she said.

Ms Clark encourages anyone who sees a headspace worker, who may be identified by their green t-shirts, to reach out to them for support.

“If a young person sees one of the team members around, even if a community member sees them, just go up and have a yarn … the team will talk to you then and there.”

– Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact: Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or find an Aboriginal Medical Service here.

There are resources for young people at Headspace Yarn Safe.

Part 4 Love and hope can save young Aborigines in despair 

Published The Australian 17 January 

How can a child of 10 feel such ­despair that she would end her life? What must she have seen, heard and felt in such a short life to ­destroy all hope? What had she lived? How do her parents, her siblings, their communities live with the pain? How can they possibly endure the all-consuming grief of losing their child?

Now imagine if this were your child, your family, your close-knit community. Wouldn’t there be outrage, a wailing from the heart of overwhelming grief?

This is what is happening to ­indigenous children and young people in our country. And to parents and communities as our young people are dragged into a vortex of suicide by despair.

In a week, five Aboriginal girls have taken their own lives — prompting a warning from one ­researcher that indigenous children and young people could soon comprise half of all youth suicides. Researcher Gerry Georgatos says poverty is a major issue in suicide among young indigenous Australians, but also that sexual predation is a factor in a third of cases. My heart breaks for these girls and their families and their unimaginable pain.

The organisation that I lead, Culture is Life, wants our country to treat this as the national emergency it is. We want every Australian to think about the devastating toll of indigenous youth suicide and to help us to stop it. Urgently.

Instead of expecting youth suicide, we must take a stand of ­defiance against it. Unfortunately, across Australia, suicide and self-harm are on the increase. This is being driven by a deep sense of hopelessness and despair, by a lack of belonging and connection, and in some cases by the abuse young people have experienced.

Indigenous young people today are living with the consequences of acts committed by other human beings in charge of policies and laws through more than two centuries of trauma and dispossession. This history haunts us. It lives within us. It’s there in our families’ experiences of stolen land, children and wages, of killings and cruelty and abuses of power. They see this history in their grandparents’ eyes, if they are still alive. They discover it in their family stories of exclusion and unfairness.

And when they, too, feel the slap and sting of racism and ignorance when it comes at them as abuse in the schoolyard, or they sense the awkwardness of others in understanding their Aboriginality, or someone’s eyes won’t meet theirs, this history becomes the present. It eats away at them — at their confidence, their self-belief and their self-love — every time they are the target of racism and discrimination or at the end of ignorance and apathy, and when they are directly affected by abuse.

The task of repair and healing requires a powerful counterforce to all that.

We can tackle this together. We can begin to repair these wounds through daily acts of love and hope in communities, schools, universities and workplaces. Daily acts that send a message to our young people that there is belonging, strength and pride in indigenous peoples and cultures.

We are asking all Australians to show our young people that there is cause for love and hope. Show them that you share a deep sense of pride in who they are, in our inspiring cultures and in our strength. Tell them they matter, by showing your pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Share it with #loveandhope and #cultureislife.

Because when our children have love and hope in their lives, it combats helplessness and reduces the risk of self-harm. It gives them the support and courage required to take the steps they need and want to take. And when the broader community shows our kids that they care, it deepens our connections as Australians. One of the things I love most about my people is our willingness to invite ­others to connect with us and to experience our culture. And the only reciprocal ask is to take up the invitation to connect. Once you take up the invitation, you will be an ally in rectifying some of the most haunting statistics for our country.

We know from the research, and from psychologists who work with young indigenous people, that such small gestures of affirmation can make a powerful difference to their safety. Tanja Hirvonen, an Aboriginal psychologist, says many people don’t know the power of “warm interactions and warm gestures” at just the right moment to avert disaster.

She hears time and again from young people that “there was someone there for them at a particularly tricky time in their life … a coach or a teacher or an aunt or a grandmother … someone has said something pivotal to them at a particular time. Those warm ­interactions matter.”

Culture and connection are powerful protective factors against indigenous youth suicide. That’s why the work of Aboriginal leaders across the country in ­cultural pride, revitalisation and renewal programs is so crucial. People such as Yuin elder Uncle Max Harrison, who is teaching young men the ways of the old people, their lore, their duties, their responsibilities. And, as he does so, he is building their pride, strength and resilience.

So that they walk taller, knowing who they are, that they are cared for and supported and connected to this land. It’s a model for us all to feel more connected as Australians.

We cannot fail to act when we are able to save children and young people from the agony and hopelessness and torment that leads to suicide. We can affirm them in who they are, and in so doing, we can save lives.

Belinda Duarte, a Wotjobaluk woman, is chief executive of Culture is Life.
For help: Lifeline 13 11 14, Beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SuicidePrevention : #ATSISPC18 #refreshtheCTGRefresh Pat Turner CEO NACCHO Setting the scene panel : Health led solutions through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health #Leadership

” It is well established that Aboriginal led solutions deliver better outcomes.

Aboriginal community-controlled health services should be funded based on need and so that they can develop comprehensive suicide prevention initiatives with the communities they service. 

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project identifies successful Indigenous community led health led responses including providing positive health messages and mental health support underpinned by a cultural framework and tackling harmful drug and alcohol use.

These initiatives can be delivered by properly funded and supported Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

I also believe in regular full health checks for at risk people so that critical issues that can impact on a persons wellbeing, like poor hearing, can be picked up and addressed early. 

We also know that mainstream mental health service provision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country is inadequate and inappropriate.

Many people feel unsafe accessing the care they need.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations should be priortised for funding to support our own people.” 

Pat Turner AM CEO NACCHO who is working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies across Australia to ask COAG for a seat at the table on the Closing the Gap Refresh: so that we get that policy right : Part 1 Below

Picture above @CroakeyNews : Prof Pat Dudgeon kicks off the keynote panel session: “Setting the scene”. #ATSISPC18. Prof Tom Calma, Prof Helen Milroy, and our CEO Pat Turner

See the #RefreshtheCTGRefresh Campaign post HERE

Read over 120 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SuicidePrevention articles published over last 6 years 

Suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is regularly in the media and public conversations. Often the focus is on an individual completed or attempted suicide or the negative statistics.

The second National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference, to be held in Perth on November 20-21, will shift the focus to solutions identified by Indigenous people themselves. The program consists of only Indigenous people from Australia and internationally.

Our voices are important because it is our mob who understand what is going on in our communities best. We live and breathe it, with many of us either having considered taking our own lives, making an attempt or having had family members who have.

This is why the program includes a focus on community-based solutions. “

Summer May Finlay writes Part 2 below for Croakey 

Part 1 : Why an urgent need for action

  • Our people are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than other Australians.
  • Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are the most at risk of suicide in Australia.
  • Those in remote area are more disproportionately affected
  • Suicide and self-inflicted injuries was the greatest burden of disease for our young people in 2011.
  • If, Western Australia’s Kimberley region was a country, it would have the worst suicide rate in the world, according to World Health Organisation statistics.
  • Rate of suicide for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley is seven times the rest of Australia.
  • This is not news to us: but it is unacceptable and it is why we are here today.

Aboriginal control

  • At the heart of suicide is a sense of hopelessness and powerlessness.
  • Our people feel this powerlessness at multiple levels, across multiple domains of our lives.
  • It is why we have the Uluru Statement from the Heart: a cry from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the nation to have a say over matters that impact on us.
  • At the national level, it means a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament and a full partnership between Indigenous people and governments on the Closing the Gap Refresh with COAG.
  • At the regional level, it is about the formation of partnerships – like in the Kimberley one on suicide prevention – working together and advocating as a region.
  • At the local level, it is about Aboriginal people being in control of the design and delivery of programs to their own people.
  • The importance of Aboriginal control or Indigenous led is highlighted consistently as a way to achieve better outcomes for our people.
  • This is also reinforced at the Kimberley Roundtable and in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project.
  • Community-led actions are the most effective suicide prevention measure for our people. This fundamental point cannot be ignored if the situation is to change.

Healing

  • Aboriginal suicide rates have been accelerating since 1980.
  • Aboriginal people did not have a word for “suicide” before colonisation.
  • To go forward, we must go back and identify and draw on those aspects of our culture that gives us strength and identity.
  • We also must heal by acknowledging and addressing the effects of intergenerational trauma.
  • Part of healing must include challenging the continuing impacts of colonisation on Indigenous peoples’ contemporary lives.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project identifies the success of Elder-driven, on-country healing for youth which has the dual effect of strengthening intergenerational ties as well as increasing cultural connection.
  • Red Dust Healing is another example of cultural reconnection achieving positive outcomes with people at risk.
  • The Healing Foundation also achieves similar outcomes with the same principles of empowerment and connection to culture.

A public policy crisis

  • Almost all Aboriginal people who commit suicide are living below the poverty line.
  • Other common factors are:
    • Aboriginal people who have been incarcerated and come out of prison with little to no hope on the horizon.
    • Aboriginal people who are homeless.
    • Aboriginal people who have been recently evicted from their public housing rentals.
    • Aboriginal people who are exposed to violence and alcohol misuse and suffer domestic abuse.
    • Aboriginal people who have multiple underlying health and metal health issues.
    • Aboriginal people who are young; males; and those who live in remote areas.
  • This tells us that we need a comprehensive public policy response to address suicide rates in our people – that suicide in our people is linked to our status and situation more broadly in Australia.
  • It is therefore unacceptable that the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing has been allowed to lapse and no further investment has been agreed.
  • We must overturn and replace the Community Development Program that is leaving our young people completely disengaged.
  • We must also tackle the issues that lead to the greater incarceration of our peoples, with greater investment in ear health programs, employment and education.
  • It is why we must join the call for Newstart to be raised, so that our people who cannot find work, are not living in poverty.
  • And it is why myself and NACCHO are working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies across Australia to ask COAG for a seat at the table on the Closing the Gap Refresh: so that we get that policy right.
  • Whilst these matters can be overlooked in our efforts to respond to suicide in our people, and because it is difficult for governments, but they are fundamental drivers.

 .

Part 2 Follow #ATSISPC18 for news from National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference : From Croakey 

The second National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference will take place in Perth this week.

Summer May Finlay, who will cover the discussions for the Croakey Conference News Servicetogether with Marie McInerney, writes below that the focus will be on community-based solutions, as well as listening to young people and LGBTIQ+ sistergirls and brotherboys.

For news from the conference on Twitter, follow #ATSISPC18@SummerMayFinlay@mariemcinerney and @CroakeyNews.


 

Healing and support crew on hand should the be needed 

Summer May Finlay writes:

Suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is regularly in the media and public conversations. Often the focus is on an individual completed or attempted suicide or the negative statistics.

The second National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference, to be held in Perth on November 20-21, will shift the focus to solutions identified by Indigenous people themselves. The program consists of only Indigenous people from Australia and internationally.

Our voices are important because it is our mob who understand what is going on in our communities best. We live and breathe it, with many of us either having considered taking our own lives, making an attempt or having had family members who have. This is why the program includes a focus on community-based solutions.

While the term “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander” is used as a collective term for the Indigenous nations in Australia, each community within each nation is unique – culturally, socially and historically. This means that solutions need to be tailored to each community. Again, this focus is reflected in the conference program.

That’s not to say everyone in each community has the same needs and concerns. Within communities there are sub-groups who also have distinct needs, such as young people and LGBTQI+ sister girls and brother boys.

Representation matters

Our young people and community of LGBTIQ+ sistergirls and brotherboys experience disproportionate rates of suicide. Their voices on how to address the situation are important to hear, which is why these groups are well represented at the conference, with sessions where people will share their stories of ways forward.

Dion Tatow, a conference presenter, says the focus needs to be on ways forward because being “LGBTIQ+ sistergirls and brotherboys isn’t the cause of suicide, it is the discrimination and exclusion that are the cause”.

He says: “The shame [and] secrecy. You have to hide it, so it’s not good for your own health and wellbeing.”

Tatow is an Iman and Wadja man from Central Queensland and South Sea Islander (Ambrym Island, Vanuatu) and chairperson of gar’ban’djee’lum, a Brisbane-based, independent, social and support network for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people with diverse genders, bodies, sexualities and relationships.

He believes that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations like Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and cisgender people and mainstream organisations have a role to play in improving the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ sistergirls and brotherboys.

However, many health services “staff aren’t trained to deal with some LGBTIQ+ sistergirls and brotherboys’ health concerns such as gender reassignment.” This can mean LGBTIQ+ sistergirls and brotherboys can feel uncomfortable accessing a service.

Safe spaces needed

Tatow believes that ACCHOs need to step up and become “safe spaces” for LGBTIQ+ sister girls and brother boys. He says that there is a perception among LGBTIQ+ sistergirls and brotherboys that ACCHOs may be unsafe, with concerns particularly around confidentiality.

According to Tatow, the program Safe and Deadly Spaces run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service in Brisbane (ATSICHS) is a great example of what ACCHOs can do to offer appropriate services to LGBTIQ+ sister girls and brother boys.

ATSICHS is “committed to being inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities and intersex variations to ensure every member our community feels safe, accepted and valued when they access our services and programs”.

Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people also have a strong presence at the conference.

Culture is Life, led by the Chief Executive Officer Belinda Duarte, has taken charge of the youth program. Culture is Life backs Aboriginal-led solutions that deepen connection and belonging to culture and country, and supports young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to thrive. This includes allowing young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to take on leadership roles.

Will Austin, 22, a Gunditjmara man, from South West Victoria who is the Community Relations manager for Culture is Life, was charged with leading development of the youth program. He believes that young people being part of the program was important because “Aboriginal leadership and expertise needs to be shared in a really inclusive way with young people through listening and reciprocity across the generations.”

Culture is key

Culture is Life, as the name implies, places culture at the centre of the work they do, and Austin sees culture as key to health and wellbeing for our young people, connecting to cultural practice in traditional and modern ways. He says:

Modern culture is marching down the street and finding the balances in different ways such as art, dance and contemporary dance, poems, song writing, music.

Our culture has been around for thousands of years and shared through our Elders. It will evolve. There is no better feeling than going out on country, dancing on country, feeling your feet on the earth your ancestors have walked on. Connecting to the ancient knowledge and using modern ways to communicate it.”

Katie Symes, Culture is Life General Manager – Marketing and Communications, also believes Culture is a key “protective factor” for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

Will Austin and Katie Symes encourage young people at the conference to have their voices heard.

Austin said: “Don’t be shame. Make sure you step up. Make sure you contribute to the conversations…young Indigenous people are the heartbeat of the nation.”

Symes said: “It’s important for young people to be supported to cut their teeth in a really safe space.”

And the conference is designed to be just that, a safe space.

Listening with heart

Culture is Life is promoting the importance of “Listening with our hearts to the lived experiences of First Nations young people, their friends, families and communities” through its LOVE and HOPE campaign, which aims to aims to raise awareness through communicating the evidence, lived experiences and Aboriginal-led solutions. This aim is echoed through the conference.

You can watch the two campaign videos featuring young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Professor Pat Dudgeon, chair of the conference organising committee, here and here. Also follow the campaign on social media using the hashtags #loveandhope  #culturesquad  #cultureislife.

The conference showcases evidence from research and lived experience from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Indigenous brother and sisters from other countries. The uniqueness of the program will lend itself to a unique experience for attendees.

This conference follows the first conference held in Alice Springs in 2016 as part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project funded by the Commonwealth Government (see this Croakey report compiling coverage of the conference).

• If you or someone you know needs help or support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24 hours-a-day), contact your local Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisation, call Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or call Q Life: 1800 184 527.

• Further reading: On World Suicide Prevention Day, calls for the Federal Government to invest in Indigenous suicide prevention.

• The feature image above is detail from an artwork on the conference website: Moortang Yoowarl Dandjoo Yaanginy: Families (Cultures) Coming Together for a Common Purpose (Sharing) Shifting SandsThe website says: “This artwork represents our people doing business on country that is recovering from colonisation; our lands taken over, our cultures decimated, and our families separated, causing hardship, despair, and loss of hope

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SuicidePrevention News Alerts : National suicide data released by @ABSStats shows a 9.1% increase as Government invests more than $36 million in #suicideprevention

 

 

” The Federal Government will invest more than $36 million in national suicide prevention projects to raise awareness of the impact of suicide and to support Australians who may be at risk.

The funding, through the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program, will help to deliver important awareness and stigma reduction activities, research, and leadership through variety of projects. These initiatives aim to reduce deaths by suicide across Australia.”.

Download Minister Greg Hunt Press Release with all Project Funding Part 1 Below

$36 million for national suicide prevention projects

The data released today indicates that men are still more than three times more likely to die by suicide than women, with the national suicide rates highest among men in the 30s, 40s and 50s. And while suicide rates increased across many age groups, the largest rise was among men 45-55 years in 2017.

While young people under 20 years have the lowest rate overall, suicide remains a leading cause of death for young people and the suicide rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remains unacceptably high at more than double the national suicide rate, based on the data available.

Everymind’s Director Jaelea Skehan says it is critical governments, services and the broader community come together to ensure an inclusive and proactive response to suicide. Part 2 Below

Suicide in Australia is increasing at the same time as deaths from most physical
illnesses are decreasing. We must set a target to focus Governments’ funding and the community on suicide reduction.

We should say as a nation that we want zero suicides and we are starting with a target
to reduce suicide in Australia by 25% in the next 5 years. 3,128 people died last year from a mostly preventable illness this is an outrage and it is no longer acceptable.”

Lifeline Chairman, John Brogden, today called on the Federal Government to set a
national target to achieve 25% suicide reduction over 5 years.

 ” The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference Committee invite and welcome you to Perth for the second National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference, and the second World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference.

Our Indigenous communities, both nationally and internationally, share common histories and are confronted with similar issues stemming from colonisation. Strengthening our communities so that we can address high rates of suicide is one of these shared issues. The Conferences will provide more opportunities to network and collaborate between Indigenous people and communities, policy makers, and researchers. The Conferences are unique opportunities to share what we have learned and to collaborate on solutions that work in suicide prevention.

This also enables us to highlight our shared priorities with political leaders in our respective countries and communities.

Conference Website 

” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing combines mental, physical, cultural, and spiritual health of not only the individual, but the whole community. For this reason, the term “social and emotional wellbeing” is generally preferred and better understood than terms like “mental health” and “mental illness”.

Addressing social and emotional wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples requires the recognition of human rights, the strength of family, and the recognition of cultural diversity – including language, kinship, traditional lifestyles, and geographical locations (urban, rural, and remote).”

READ MORE ON THIS TOPIC HERE  

 NACCHO BACKGROUND

Read over 160 NACCHO Aboriginal Mental Health Articles published over 5 yrs

Read over 140 NACCHO Suicide Prevention Articles published over 5 yrs Including

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : #ATSISPEP report and the hope of a new era in Indigenous suicide prevention

Pat Dudgeon explains why suicide rates among young Aboriginals are so high and what can be done to stem the tide.

Young Aboriginal Australians are four times more likely to commit suicide than non-indigenous Australians and in one remote community in the country’s Kimberley region, the Aboriginal suicide rate is estimated to be seven times the national average.

Experts and Aboriginal elders believe this can be attributed in part to a feeling of disconnection from the land and traditional culture and that the solution rests in restoring that, rather than solely in combatting drug and alcohol abuse. 

See Part 3 Below 

Part 1 Minister Greg Hunt Press Release 

Fifteen highly respected organisations will receive funding including Suicide Prevention Australia who will receive $1.2 million to continue its national leadership role for the suicide prevention sector.

Suicide is a national tragedy and close to 3,000 Australians take their lives each year.

One life lost to suicide is one too many.

The support I have announced today will be vitally important in helping to reduce the number of people we lose to suicide each year.

Male suicide rates are three times greater than females and the rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is around twice that of non-Indigenous people.

Awareness, prevention and intervention programs for occupations where larger numbers of men typically work will be delivered by the OzHelp Foundation and MATES in Construction to give men the confidence and support to open up and seek help for themselves, and their mates, when in need.

Funding will allow the University of Western Australia to continue critical research to ensure the best support and services are being provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people in our community.

A number of organisations, including R U OK?, Everymind, and Reach Out Australia, will receive funding for communication projects such as media and online campaigns to reduce stigma, encourage conversations and provide vital support and resources to individuals and communities at risk.

Mental Health First Aid Australia and Roses in the Ocean will receive funding to provide training, education and support for medical professionals and individuals with a lived experience of suicide.

A leadership role will be provided by Suicide Prevention Australia to build partnerships across the mental health sector and the community to change behaviour and attitudes to suicide behaviour.

The National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program was launched in 2017. This funding boost today brings the total funding for the program to $79.9 million.

The Morrison Government is committed to investing in mental health services for all Australians. It is a key pillar of our Long Term Health Plan.

In the 2018–19 Budget, mental health funding increased by $338.1 million to boost support for suicide prevention, research and programs for older Australians.

Part 2 Everymind Press Release

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the Causes of Death data for 2017, reiterating the need to renew our collective commitment to suicide prevention in Australia – as individuals, services, communities and governments.

Following a modest decrease in 2016, the latest data shows that in 2017 3,128 people died by suicide nationally, the second time that number has surpassed 3,000 in the past three years. This equates to more than eight Australians every day.

The Everymind team, through Mindframe, has worked quickly today to interpret the data and summarise it for national stakeholders, but we understand that behind every number is a person and the family and community who are grieving their loss.

The data released today indicates that men are still more than three times more likely to die by suicide than women, with the national suicide rates highest among men in the 30s, 40s and 50s. And while suicide rates increased across many age groups, the largest rise was among men 45-55 years in 2017.

While young people under 20 years have the lowest rate overall, suicide remains a leading cause of death for young people and the suicide rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remains unacceptably high at more than double the national suicide rate, based on the data available.

Everymind’s Director Jaelea Skehan says it is critical governments, services and the broader community come together to ensure an inclusive and proactive response to suicide.

“No government, service or individual should think that the lives lost to suicide in this country are acceptable. As someone who works nationally in suicide prevention and as someone that has lost family and friends to suicide, I don’t think they’re acceptable.

“It would be easy to point a finger at one thing that needs to change or improve, but this is a big issue that requires a big response.

“One life lost, one family impacted, one community grieving is one too many.”

Jaelea Skehan, Everymind Director

While rates are still lower than our last national peak in 1997, there has been an increase in suicide rates and the number of deaths over the past five years. In 2017 the national suicide rate was 12.7 per 100,000, compared to 11.8 per 100,000 in 2016.

Of the states and territories, QLD, the ACT and NSW recorded some of the largest increases in 2017, while the number of suicide deaths decreased in TAS, VIC and SA.

“We need to really look at addressing the social determinants that contribute to distress. We need to empower and build capacity across our community, ensure we have an accessible and responsive service system and better wrap-around supports for people who have been impacted,” Ms Skehan said.

For the first time the ABS has provided data relating to comorbidities, with 80% of suicides having comorbidities mentioned as contributing factors. Mood disorders (including depression) were reported in 43% of all suicides and drug and alcohol use disorders were mentioned in 29.5% of suicides.

“The data suggests that we need to connect our drug and alcohol strategy and service system to our national suicide prevention efforts,” Ms Skehan said.

“The Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan for Australia includes most of the recommendations from the World Health Organisation, with the exception of alcohol reduction.”

Suicide Prevention Program Manager Marc Bryant says it’s important to remember that behind the data released today are people, families and communities who have all been impacted.

“Every life lost is a life that is valued and missed. Suicide is complex and the reasons people take their own life are complex. There is often no single reason why a person attempts or dies by suicide.”

Mr Bryant says it’s also essential we communicate about suicide safely and seek guidance when interpreting the data.

“Mindframe has been working to translate the data from the ABS quickly and accurately for several years now to provide national briefings for the mental health and suicide prevention sectors, as well as the media.

“Suicide and suicide prevention are both important issues of public concerns, but we need to make sure we talk about them in a way that is safe,” he said.

For a snapshot of the data and expert guidance on reporting on suicide please visit Mindframe.

To find out more about suicide prevention in Australia visit Life in Mind.

If you or someone you know needs support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

Part 3 Aboriginal youth suicide rates?

Pat Dudgeon explains why suicide rates among young Aboriginals are so high and what can be done to stem the tide.

Young Aboriginal Australians are four times more likely to commit suicide than non-indigenous Australians and in one remote community in the country’s Kimberley region, the Aboriginal suicide rate is estimated to be seven times the national average.

Experts and Aboriginal elders believe this can be attributed in part to a feeling of disconnection from the land and traditional culture and that the solution rests in restoring that, rather than solely in combatting drug and alcohol abuse.

Professor Pat Dudgeon, from the Bardi people of the Kimberley, was the first Aboriginal psychologist to graduate in Australia and is the woman behind Australia’s first national suicide prevention strategy that specifically targets Aboriginals.

She talks to Al Jazeera about the mental state of Australia’s indigenous youth and what can be done to battle the suicide rate.

Al Jazeera: You were the first Aboriginal psychologist to graduate in Australia. What inspired your career path?

Pat Dudgeon: Growing up as an Aboriginal person, I became increasingly aware of the social and historical disadvantage that my people had suffered. I became determined to help them.

WATCH

Australia’s Lost Generation: Battling Aboriginal Suicide

I wanted to help people with their mental health problems. Life at times can be very difficult – for some groups more than others. And I felt we needed to heal to become a happier, more positive and functional people.

Al Jazeera: Has anything changed since we spoke to you for our 2012 documentary “Australia’s Lost Generation”?

Dudgeon: Apparently, the national suicide averages have stabilised or even gone down. But for indigenous suicides, there’s been no change; it’s stayed the same and there’s still a lot of suicides happening.

However, I think there’s more awareness. There is a greater voice demanding more programmes, but that isn’t being provided as well as it could be. And also, it’s going to take a while. It’s taken us a long time to get to this point.

Canadian professor Michael Chandler used to say that high youth-suicide rates are, in a sense, the miner’s canary; it tells you that things aren’t good. It’s the sharp end of a very bad situation telling us that things aren’t good in a society. We need to work to turn it around. But for some communities, that might take a long time.

Al Jazeera: Are indigenous children at a greater risk of suffering from mental health issues than their non-indigenous peers?

Dudgeon: Indigenous Australians are twice more likely to commit suicide than other Australians. When you break it down by age groups, certainly our youth are more vulnerable to suicide.

We live in a society that is often very racist and doesn’t give them much opportunityBut there’s a whole range of different reasons why our youth are suffering from mental health issues and are taking their lives, among them an intergenerational trauma.

Youth suicide is not just an issue for Australian indigenous people but other indigenous people from Canada, the United States and New Zealand, as well. And the one thing that we have in common is the story of colonisation.

Al Jazeera: Do you believe that the high suicide rates are a result of this colonisation process?

Dudgeon: The difference between us and other Australian people is that we’ve gone through a process of colonisation. It was quite a brutal and horrible process that has disempowered indigenous people.

Often, there were genocides committed. People were forcibly removed from their countries, from their lands and put into reserves and missions.

Children were forcibly separated from families and put into institutions where they were trained to be menial workers, and so on. Aboriginal culture was looked down upon and discouraged. So, as well as colonising the lands, Aboriginal culture and people themselves were, in a sense, colonised psychologically.

That had a lasting impact. Certainly, if you’ve been removed from your family and culture, there’s a whole lot of trauma that goes with that. Sometimes, that trauma is carried down from one generation to the next, so that’s something we do need to heal from.

It’s only recently that Australia has accepted responsibility and we had the national apology given by the then-prime minister, Kevin Rudd. For us, that was a big healing moment, a very big healing moment.

But certainly I think that the “stolen generations”, as we call it when people were removed from their family, is a big issue that we need to grapple with and a lot more healing needs to happen.

Al Jazeera: What needs to be done to help people heal?

Dudgeon: We have a national healing foundation that supports and encourages people from all across the country to undertake healing programmes, enabling them to heal and to reinstate a strong, healthy culture.

We know from our own research that for a programme to be effective, the local Aboriginal community must be involved.

And there needs to be a range of different programmes: from clinical services, to back to country, to cultural programmes. And we need a whole range of different services.

We need to support our youth, listen to them, hear what their issues are. We need to make our cultures strong to ensure that the youth has opportunities – that they have people to speak to and show them a way to engage in our culture, as well.

I think we could see change in our generation if we put in place good systems that supported the Aboriginal community, gave them a whole range of different services – including encouraging and supporting local communities to be involved in any programmes. And to develop local healing and cultural programmes.

So it’s not insurmountable. But I think it requires the government to change the way it views Aboriginal communities and their right to self-governing.

Al Jazeera: Why is the local approach so important?

Dudgeon: For a lot of Aboriginal people, or any person really, one of the things I’ve seen as a mental health professional is the emergence of the consumer movement. People who are consumers of mental health services now have a voice.

To improve a service, those who will be using it need to be actively involved in deciding what it should be and how it should be delivered. So, if you empower people, the change will be much more effective than if they’re just receiving through some professional high up, an outsider who doesn’t really understand the issue.

This applies to either indigenous or non-indigenous people, but particularly for indigenous people because of their history of colonisation.

Al Jazeera: What’s being done to help communities and individuals tackle mental health issues?

Dudgeon: There are a lot of programmes, including Gatekeeper Training that helps people identify the signs or symptoms of possible suicide and suggest strategies on how to deal with that.

Usually, people from within the community are also asked to go and see someone if there are concerns.

I think in today’s society, both indigenous and non-indigenous, we’re much more comfortable talking about suicide, addressing it and helping each other.

It was a very taboo subject some years ago. But now it’s OK to say that you’ve got problems. It’s OK to talk about it and to go and seek help. I think it’s good that we’re moving in that direction.

Suicide isn’t just indigenous, it’s mainstream, as well. So, if we are all conscious about our mental health, acknowledge that different groups need different solutions and different approaches, and do our bit to ensure that everyone is healthy, that’s an important first step

Al Jazeera: Could you tell us more about different suicide prevention programmes that are needed?

Dudgeon: There needs to be a whole range of different projects. When we started the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander suicide evaluation project, we looked at the different types of services needed.

When people are very unhealthy they might need clinics that can provide urgent care, they might also need medication. So, you need programmes that can provide immediate relief.

You also need programmes that can help them build resilience and strengthen their culture.

The main message that came through at the round tables that we undertook across Australia was that people were saying, “We need to build up our resilience.” And the big thing that everyone was concerned about was self-determination. That Aboriginal people, or indigenous people themselves need to be in charge of any developments in the community.

According to some research done in Canada looking at First councils tribes, those with low suicide rates had a higher level of self-determination and cultural reclamation. So, those are important factors for indigenous suicide prevention. Feeling like you belong and you’ve got a future is important and empowering for any human being.

Al Jazeera: How do you empower communities and people?

Dudgeon: I was involved in a project called, “The National Empowerment Project”. It started in response to the suicides that were happening, so we developed a programme to help build a relationship with the communities we wanted to engage with us.

The communities chose people, we trained them as co-researchers, and then, they went and asked everyone in their community, what were the main issues and what were the solutions. And after, that we reported our findings to each of the communities.

We developed a programme from all those consultations called “the Cultural, Social and Emotional Wellbeing Project”. It’s basically from an indigenous point of view, so it’s very much about indigenous wellbeing, culture and self-awareness.

The funding is provided by the government, and it enables people to deal with mental health issues and come up with psychological strategies, as well as strategies to navigate normal challenges of life. It also stresses the importance of elders and culture in a community. So, it’s all about self-awareness and cultural strength.

Al Jazeera: Is there any specific case that has stuck with you throughout the years?

Dudgeon: Yes. When we organised a big suicide prevention conference in Alice Springs, we decided to have it in Central Australia. There was a community that had suffered a high number of suicides.

They were giving a bursary for a couple of them to go to Alice Springs and attend the conference. But instead, they used that bursary to hire a bus for 12-15 people to go from Leonora all the way to Alice Springs, and they stopped in other communities along the way to exchange stories with them.

That stuck with me and it illustrates that the community is concerned about the high suicide rate, they will take action, and they’re determined to try and address things themselves.

Al Jazeera: Do you believe that this increased awareness can reduce the suicide numbers?

Dudgeon: I do get concerned that perhaps not enough funding is being put into Aboriginal communities and that’s probably where the Centre for Best Practice in Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention comes in.

I’m the director of the centre, and we’re setting up a clearinghouse with all the best practice programmes and services for indigenous suicide prevention. There will also be a lot of advice for communities. So, if they want to develop a programme and have it evaluated, they’ll be able to come to our website for that.

We can provide good strategies and when communities do get funded, they’ll be able to look at what’s happening on our website and connect with other programmes that they might think will be useful for themselves – in their own time, in their own way.

Australia's Lost Generation: Battling Aboriginal Suicide

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Australia’s Lost Generation: Battling Aboriginal Suicide