NACCHO Aboriginal #Mentalhealth and #SuicidePrevention #WSPD2019 News :The @NACCHOChair and other Indigenous leaders welcomes the Government’s commitment and national actions towards reducing suicide rates and improving #mentalhealth outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples @cbpatsisp @blackdoginst

NACCHO welcomes the Government’s commitment and national actions towards reducing suicide rates and improving mental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Mental health and suicide remain one of our top priorities as research shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are 2.7 times more likely to experience high levels of psychological distress than other Australians.

 The attempted suicides are almost twice the rate of non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and they are missing out on the much-needed mental health services.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations are best placed to be the preferred providers of mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, and suicide-prevention activities in their communities. They need to be adequately resourced to develop community-led solutions that consider issues from a social and emotional perspective and provide appropriate solutions to prevention.

Harnessing this global momentum on World Suicide Prevention Day is critical to ensure productive and meaningful solutions are put in place to drive suicide rates down.

 We will continue to advocate for appropriate funding to ensure community-led solutions to arrest suicide.”

Acting NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills

Picture above from Left to right Tanja Hirvonen and Pat Dudgeon (CBATSISP) , Professor Tom Calma , Minister Ken Wyatt and Leilani Darwin see event details Part 4

Read this NACCHO Press Release in full HERE

Read over 150 Aboriginal Health and Suicide Prevention articles published by NACCHO over 7 years 

Read over 23 Aboriginal Mental Health articles published by NACCHO over 7 Years

The Morrison Government is investing over $5.5 million in an approach that will help two of the nation’s leading mental health organisations reduce suicide rates and improve mental health outcomes for First Australians.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and this is an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide prevention and to shine a light on this enormous tragedy.

See Minister Hunt and Wyatt full Press Release Part 2 Below

TRANSCRIPT OF SPEECH, WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY BREAKFAST (FED)

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, discusses R U OK day, youth mental health and suicide prevention, and government investment in suicide prevention.

PM Speech Suicide Prevention Day

Indigenous leaders welcomed Health Minister Greg Hunt’s $4.5 million announcement of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia – a national independent and inclusive Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention leadership body – at a Parliament House Poche Indigenous Health Network (PIHN) breakfast yesterday

Further welcome was given to Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt’s announcement of a $1 million Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network within the Black Dog Institute to provide a national representative voice for Indigenous people with lived experience of suicide “

See Part 4 Below for Press Release 

Aboriginal medical service was the best opportunity for a wraparound service for families within these communities.

They can provide social and emotional wellbeing and access to counselling, and their care management is done more effectively.

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA had been given the lead role by the WA Primary Health Alliance to look at a transition of State Government services.

We’ve all made the agreement and established thereference group now through Thirrili.

Basically ( The forum ) it was held in response to the inadequacy of services, particularly related to suicide prevention, mental health and primary health care services,”

South Regional TAFE Aboriginal development officer and Noongar man Laurence Riley organised the event and said there had not been a meeting like it in years.

See Article in full Part 3 Below

Part 2 : The Morrison Government is investing over $5.5 million in an approach that will help two of the nation’s leading mental health organisations reduce suicide rates and improve mental health outcomes for First Australians.

In 2017, the suicide death rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was twice that for non-Indigenous people.

Suicide accounts for 40 per cent of all deaths of Indigenous children – one life lost to suicide is one too many.

The Government is investing $4.5 million in Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia to deliver a national plan for culturally appropriate care and make suicide prevention services available and accessible to First Australians no matter where they live.

Proud Spirit will provide support in times of need with:

  • A dedicated senior suicide prevention officer
  • the inclusion of a government and a Primary Health Network (PHN) liaison officer, to ensure Proud Spirit connects to all Australian governments and PHNs
  • a representative of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation so Proud Spirit links to mental health and health services
  • a community partnerships officer, to connect Proud Spirit to Indigenous communities, including people with lived experience of suicide, members of the Stolen Generations, youth and Indigenous LGBTIQ people.

In addition, we are investing $963,000 to establish the Centre of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Mental Illness and Suicide Network.

The Black Dog Institute and the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention at the University of Western Australia, will work together to deliver this initiative.

These organisations will:

  • Provide the means for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with lived experience of mental illness and suicide to contribute to and engage with policy and program development, leading to an increase in self-determination and empowerment
  • support organisations to provide culturally appropriate mental health and suicide prevention programs and services to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In the 2019–20 Budget, the Morrison Government boosted funding for Indigenous-specific health initiatives to $4.1 billion over four years to 2022-23.

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

Part 3  :Narrogin’s Aboriginal community came together last month to voice their concerns, discuss mental health, and call for change in the region.

The Narrogin and Surrounds Aboriginal Community Consultation hosted more than 60 people at the John Higgins Community Centre, including elders, community members, and representatives from health organisations across the State and Australia.

The four-hour forum heard the community’s concerns, among which were poor health and support services in the region, and ongoing high rates of suicide, with many making emotional pleas for change.

South Regional TAFE Aboriginal development officer and Noongar man Laurence Riley organised the event and said there had not been a meeting like it in years.

“Basically it was held in response to the inadequacy of services, particularly related to suicide prevention, mental health and primary health care services,” he said.

“A lot of the services that exist in town, are not able to cater for that long, progressive counselling and support for families or people that are going through mental health issues and suicidal ideology.”

Mr Riley said part of the issue was being managed by three State regional boundaries, and government agencies not responding or being accountable to each other.

“It’s been trickling on since our first suicide 20 years ago and then we had the suicide spike in 2007-2008, when those seven or eight young men within Narrogin, Pingelly and Wagin took their lives,” he said.

National Indigenous Critical Response Service case manager Tina Hayden, who attended the meeting, said there was a funeral almost every week from someone taking their life in the area.

“We’re all related so it’s not just their loss — even though it’s their son or their daughter or grandson — it’s our loss because it’s still our family and they would have made an impact on our lives in some way,” she said.

Elder Nolda Williams, who was also present at the meeting, lost her son to suicide when he was 18 years old.

“It’s something you’ll never get over,” she said.

“I don’t want to see any more kids lose their lives.

“I want to see something happen, something they can do, somewhere they can go.”

Mr Riley said an Aboriginal medical service was the best opportunity for a wraparound service for families within these communities.

“They can provide social and emotional wellbeing and access to counselling, and their care management is done more effectively,” he said.

Mr Riley said the Aboriginal Health Council of WA had been given the lead role by the WA Primary Health Alliance to look at a transition of State Government services.

“We’ve all made the agreement and established thereference group now through Thirrili,” he said.

Thirrili and the National Indigenous Critical Response Service provide direct emotional and practical support to families and communities affected by suicide or another traumatic event.

NICRS chief executive Adele Cox said she was delighted with the number of community members who took part in the forum.

“I think that confirmed the absolute support and commitment from the community to look at taking these issues into their own hands and finding local solutions,” she said. “As a national service, it was heart-warming to come see such a turn-out and hear those conversations.

“While they were not always pleasant and some of the conversations that had to be had were hard, I think there was a showing of respect from everyone that attended.”

Ms Cox said it was great to see the Shire of Narrogin, including chief executive Dale Stewart and president Leigh Ballard, at the forum, and she hoped they had taken the opportunity to listen and take active initiative.

“We heard many ideas and very simple and practical suggestions from the community, which don’t take a lot in terms of resources,” she said.

The forum was led by Laurence Riley.Picture: Daryna Zadvirna

AHCWA, WAPHA and NICRS were also joined at the meeting by the local Kaata-Koorliny Employment and Enterprise Development Aboriginal Corporation, as well as Life without Barriers.

KEEDAC chief executive Leanne Kickett said the community was frustrated as the same issues had been addressed for the last 20 years but there had been no real outcomes so far.

“Funding has been allocated to certain services but we haven’t seen a result, there hasn’t been a different outcome,” she said.

“I think it has made us realise that we need to work together to make this change.”

Mr Riley said he spoke to the Commonwealth in 2015 about the opportunity to establish new Aboriginal medical services in the Narrogin region.

“Government’s response was ‘We don’t have the dollars so at this point of time we won’t be establishing any new Aboriginal medical services’,” he said.

“So what they’ve been doing is using existing resources and dollars to be able to expand into different regions.

“But since then (Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken) Wyatt has accused metropolitan services of neglecting rural and remote Aboriginal communities, hence why we’re kind of taking the lead to try to establish some services.”

A report on the forum held earlier this month was planned to be drafted and released to the community for a review, Ms Cox said.

“I’m hoping that as a part of this process we can get commitment from the State Government and I know that Minister Wyatt has certainly highlighted that he’s certainly for community-driven approaches and solutions,” she said.

“So hopefully, the report that comes out of this will be something that is listened to.”

Mr Riley said although change would be slow, it was definitely in progress.

“I think people are ready for change,” he said.

“People are ready to combat this division and just start moving forward as a community.

Part 4 Indigenous leaders welcome $5.5 million social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention initiatives

Indigenous leaders welcomed Health Minister Greg Hunt’s $4.5 million announcement of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia – a national independent and inclusive Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention leadership body – at a Parliament House Poche Indigenous Health Network (PIHN) breakfast this morning.

Further welcome was given to Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt’s announcement of a $1 million Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network within the Black Dog Institute to provide a national representative voice for Indigenous people with lived experience of suicide.

PIHN Chair and Patron, and founder of the Close the Gap Campaign for Indigenous Heath Equality, Professor Tom Calma AO said:

“I thank the Prime Minister and Ministers Hunt and Wyatt for both announcements today and their recognition that the overall Indigenous health and life expectancy gap cannot be closed without significant focus on strengthening Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing and mental health, and on reducing our suicide rates”

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health (NATSILMH) Chair Mr Tom Brideson said:

“I add my thanks to the Australian Government for these announcements today. Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia will provide an inclusive, representative and complementary voice for the Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention sector

It will, in particular, focus on implementation of the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration developed by NATSILMH and that Australian governments are required to implement by the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia will be a national advocate for a ‘best of both worlds’ approach to our wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention, encompassing cultural and clinical elements to benefit all our diverse communities: remote, regional and urban, and including our young people, our LGBTIQ, and our Stolen Generations.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network Head Ms Leilani Darwin said:

“The Black Dog Institute and I are excited to establish the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network to inform, influence and enhance culturally-appropriate suicide prevention activities and mental health support programs that work for our First Nations people.”

“The Lived Experience Network will be the conduit that links existing networks together and mobilises, connects and enables Indigenous people with lived experience of suicide to have a seat at

the national table and to help deliver culturally fitting and safe Indigenous -led suicide prevention and mental wellbeing reform.”

Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association Chair Ms Tania Dalton said:

“ I am particularly pleased that the work of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia, supported by the Lived Experience Network, will include leading an inclusive development process for a dedicated Indigenous suicide prevention plan with a strong youth component. “

In closing, Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) Director Professor Pat Dudgeon affirmed:

“Indigenous leadership – inclusive and accountable to our communities – is critical if efforts to close the mental health outcome and suicide rate gaps are to be effective. With today’s announcements Indigenous leadership of Indigenous mental health, social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention is – at last – cemented into the national policy space,”

“I take this opportunity to pay tribute to 40-years and more of tireless work by Indigenous leaders in this space. In particular, I acknowledge the work of NATSILMH since 2013. The naming of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia after its Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration is a testament to NATSILMH’s influence.”

“Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia and the Lived Experience Network will also promote a new generation of leaders in this space to ensure indigenous leadership of the sector into the future.”

END

  • For media enquiries on for Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia: Tanja Hirvonen (CBATSISP) and Professor Tom Calma are available for and interview requests. Please contact Jessica Weiland, 0468969041 or via Jessica.weiland@health.nsw.gov.au
  • For media enquiries on The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network: Leilani Darwin is available for interview requests. Please contact: Natalie Craig 02 9382 3712 or 0448 144 999 or via Natalie.craig@blackdog.org.au,
  • For more information about NATSLMH and the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration see: https://natsilmh.org.au/
  • For more information about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network see: https://blackdoginstitute.org.au/lived-experience-network · For more information about CBPATSISP see https://www.cbpatsisp.com.au/ · For more information about AIPA see: http://www.indigenouspsychology.com.au/
  • The Poche Indigenous Health Network is a network of Poche centres, focused on closing the gap in life expectancy and seeking solutions to address the complex health issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For more info see: http://pochehealth.edu.au/ ·
  • For reporting guidelines around mental illness and suicide see Mindframe: http://www.mindframe.org.au · For information around national suicide prevention see Life in Mind: http://www.lifeinmindaustralia.com.au
  • Lifeline: 131 114
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
  • Mensline: 1300 78 99 78

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth and #SuicidePrevention : Read and Watch @beyondblue Chair The Hon Julia Gillard AC speech @UniofAdelaide Truth-telling and reconciliation will enhance the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.

” Suicide in our Indigenous communities is one of the greatest challenges of our times and its causes are complex.

Beyond Blue cannot claim or seek to be a specialist or comprehensive provider of social and emotional wellbeing or suicide prevention services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

That is a role which is more appropriately the domain of Aboriginal-led and community-controlled organisations.

But we can apply what we have learnt so far through our Reconciliation Action Plan, our growing cultural competencies, and strong relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, leaders and organisations.

We can complement the work of the Aboriginal organisations and others by ensuring our major interventions are suitable for, and accessible to, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wherever possible, and use our well-known brand and strength in communications to fight racism and discrimination.

We will recognise those inherent protective factors of Indigenous cultures and communities – those powerful forces of resilience, humour, spirituality and connectedness – that can and should be utilised as sources of strength and healing.

We are ready to work alongside Indigenous people and communities in co-designing solutions to provide better outcomes for health and wellbeing.

We intend to be the best ally we can be, lend our voice when required and listen to learn.

We need to educate ourselves and ask questions when we need to; to commit, to support, to ally.

We pledge to be a positive force for change as the nation addresses the issue of constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always resisted actions designed to destroy their culture, disperse their families and sever their connections to Country.

The day will come when we look with pride upon that determination, and indeed celebrate it as a complete history.

The Hon Julia Gillard AC University of Adelaide public lecture 2019 3 September 2019

Yellaka Dance Group 

Read over 230 Aboriginal Mental Health articles published by NACCHO in past 7 years

Read over 150 Aboriginal Suicide Prevention articles published by NACCHO in Past 7 years

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and in the spirit of reconciliation, pay my respects to Elders past and present. Yellaka, thank you for your warm Greeting to Country.

Introduction

The is the second time I have had the privilege of being so welcomed by Yellaka. The first time was at the recent South Australian State dinner to celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage in our State – a milestone to be inspired by.

In fact, that dinner was very important for me in preparing for this lecture.

It caused to me to reflect on the complexity of history; on our achievements and failings. In that speech I spoke about the need to erect a permanent monument to celebrate the fight for women’s suffrage and all that was gained here in South Australia in 1894.

But in doing so, I said care must be taken to tell the whole story, not part of it.

Despite Aboriginal men and, as a result of women’s suffrage, Aboriginal women having the right to vote, it was common for them neither be told about it nor supported to enrol. Sometimes this oppressive neglect morphed into a more active discouragement from participating.

This pernicious repudiation of a human right was compounded by a direct legal bar, when in the 1902 Commonwealth Franchise Act, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were excluded from voting in federal elections. It was not until 1962 that Indigenous Australians could have a say in who governed our nation.

We cannot tell the history of how our democracy developed without looking squarely at how equality was denied for so long.

This is just one example of the need to tell the deeper truths that lie beyond the surface.

To quote the words of Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating in his famed Redfern Speech, we need:

Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing.

We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol.

We committed the murders.

We took the children from their mothers.

We practised discrimination and exclusion.

It was our ignorance and our prejudice.

And our failure to imagine these things being done to us.

With some noble exceptions, we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds.

We failed to ask – how would I feel if this were done to me?

Friends, this question is as profoundly challenging today as it was when Paul spoke those words almost thirty years ago. Trying to answer it requires honesty, empathy, intellectual understanding, spiritual depth.

Today, I am asking you to bring those characteristics with you as we discuss the tragic topic of suicide and Indigenous Australians.

Honesty

First, with honesty, let’s confront the facts.

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

The suicide rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teenagers aged 15 to 19 of both genders is around four times that of their non-Indigenous peers.

Despite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprising around three per cent of the Australian population, they account for thirty per cent of the suicide deaths among those under 18 years of age.

There are significant suicide or self-harming clusters that can occur within a single community or locale over a period of weeks or months.

For example, In February, Western Australia’s State Coroner handed down her report on a cluster of 13 deaths that occurred in less than four years in the Kimberley region and included five children aged 10 to 13.

The Coroner spoke of the deaths as profoundly tragic, individually and collectively, of dysfunction, alcohol, domestic violence and grief.

But she added:

to focus only upon the individual events that occurred shortly before their deaths would not adequately address the circumstances attending the deaths. These tragic individual events were shaped by the crushing effects of inter-generational trauma and poverty upon entire communities. That community-wide trauma, generated multiple and prolonged exposures to individual traumatic events for these children and young persons.

Watch video 

Please note : Julia Gillard starts her talk at about 27 minutes into the 1hr 10 min event, and talks for just under 30 minutes. It finishes with a Q&A session (of about 20 minutes).

Empathy

The Coroner here is calling to our ability to show empathy. To walk alongside our First Peoples and try to understand how history and lived reality come together and can create circumstances of despair.

Great damage has been done to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through two centuries of discrimination, dislocation and cultural disruption.

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

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

And if the foundations of culture are systemically disrupted – connection to land, traditional places and practices, languages, spirituality, family and kinship ties – it causes devastation across generations.

But honesty also requires us to recognise that there is both deep lingering pain from our history, and new pain that arises in the present.

Imagine not getting the job you’re qualified for because of the colour of your skin; to know you are being followed by a store detective just for being you; to feel the stranger sitting beside you slip sideways to create greater distance.

These are everyday situations – the constant but subtle cues of difference – and where being racially different is nearly always positioned as a liability.

Put simply, racism, including these kinds of behaviours, is not only bad for mental health and wellbeing – it both causes and perpetuates high levels of social and emotional distress for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. In addition, there is a ‘dose’ effect for psychological distress caused by racism: the more a person is exposed to it, the greater the impact.

That was why Beyond Blue launched its Stop, Think, Respect invisible discriminator campaign in 2014 with a repeat run in 2016.

The campaign – the most viewed and shared in Beyond Blue’s history – highlights the routine everyday impact of subtle racism on the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The campaign aimed to change behaviour by encouraging non-Indigenous Australians to think about their often, unconscious behaviours and to think again before they act.

  • To think before they laughed along – even uncomfortably – at a racist joke in the pub.
  • To challenge why they may not sit beside an Aboriginal person on a crowded bus.

But it was the reaction from Indigenous people that was most revealing.

They told us they loved the campaign because finally somebody had noticed that, for them, every day could be a little tougher than it should be.

Over half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experience racial discrimination report feelings of psychological distress, meaning they are at elevated risk of anxiety and depression, substance use and contemplating or attempting suicide.

Empathy requires us to recognise that the threads of the past and the attitudes shown in the present day are woven together. For non-Indigenous Australians, our collective failure to face up to all of the brutal truth of our history and its ongoing effects holds us back from full understanding today.

For Indigenous Australians, the interconnected issues of cultural dislocation, personal trauma and the ongoing stresses of disadvantage, racism and exclusion are absolutely contributing to the heightened risk of mental health problems, substance misuse and suicide.

All this was acknowledged by the Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody. That report was tabled in 1991.

Intellectual understanding

Driven by empathy, we also need to engage intellectually on the best ways to provide culturally appropriate services and supports to prevent Indigenous suicide.

Nothing less than profound systemic reform is needed to improve social and emotion wellbeing.

Such major change must be culturally informed and co-designed. As many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to remind us, Indigenous policies and responses must be led by Indigenous people, which might mean solutions that look different to anything that has been implemented before.

Innovation and new efforts are needed nationally and locally.

In 2009 the Rudd Government launched the ‘Closing the Gap’ response as a measurable account of Indigenous disadvantage that would be reported to parliament annually on progress.

In the 10 years since launch most of the indicators of disadvantaged have remained stubbornly unmoved. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live 10 to 17 years less than other Australians.

While there have been some improvements against some performance indicators, these have been small and incremental.

And babies born to Indigenous mothers still die at more than twice the rate of other Australian babies.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.

And a major contributing factor to the life expectancy gap is suicide.

There are no mental health or suicide prevention targets in Australia’s Closing the Gap strategy despite the alarming statistics on Indigenous suicide and psychological distress, but as a member of the steering committee, Beyond Blue is adding our voice to rectifying this.

At the same time, we are calling for this act of national leadership, as an organisation we are trying to be a good partner in locally led change models.

In November 2018, Beyond Blue launched Be You: a Commonwealth-funded national initiative that aims to strengthen the mental health literacy, resilience, self-care and help-seeking of every member of Australia’s school communities and early childhood settings.

In January, Minister Wyatt announced $2.3 million over two years to pilot and evaluate a culturally appropriate, place-based adaptation of Be You for schools in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of WA, in partnership with Aboriginal communities.

That work is now underway. And we are taking a very different approach to this work than what we would normally.

Local stakeholder engagement has confirmed that we must be guided by local communities to genuinely co-design the project; to employ people with community relationships and credibility; and to engage Aboriginal community-controlled organisations to support implementation and delivery of the program.

It’s still very early days, but we are gaining much from partnering with Indigenous communities.

Spiritual depth – Uluru Statement from the Heart

Honesty, empathy, intellectual understanding, all are necessary in the cause of tackling the rate of Indigenous suicide.

But so is spiritual depth, the ability to transcend a divided past, address the dispiriting inequalities of the present and embrace a united future.

Just over two years ago, 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders endorsed by standing ovation the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

In burning prose it describes that the sovereignty of this nation’s First peoples is ‘a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty.’

It goes on to say:

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.’

As we all know, changing our constitution is difficult in every sense. Conducting and carrying a referendum by a special majority is hard to do. Our history books are littered with the stories of failed referendums. Nineteen referendums proposing 44 changes to the Constitution have been held since Federation but the Australian people have agreed to only eight changes with the last ‘yes’ vote occurring in 1977.

Of course, the Indigenous leaders who gave us the Uluru statement from the heart know this history. They neither underestimate how hard it is to have voters accept change, nor the joy that can come when they do. Many of them were alive when more than 90 percent of Australians voted in the 1967 referendum to allow First Nations people to be included in the census and for the Federal Parliament to have the power to legislate for an improved future.

In the Uluru statement, Indigenous leaders are specifically calling for a comparable act of national unity. There is some reason to believe that voting Australians in their millions are prepared to answer that call.

The Australian Reconciliation Barometer is a national research study conducted every two years to measure and compare attitudes and perceptions towards reconciliation.

In 2018 the Barometer found:

  • 90 per cent of Australians believe the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important;
  • 95 per cent believe that it is important for our First Peoples to have a say in matters that affect them;
  • and 80 per cent support a formal truth telling process.

That there is a public mood for change is further confirmed by the Australian Constitutional Values Survey of 2017 released by the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University.

It found 61 per cent of respondents would vote “yes” in a referendum to add an Indigenous voice to Parliament.

So, we increasingly desire a richer understanding of our shared history and some form of national reconciliation, but change can be hard to achieve, even when the majority is willing.

Successive Prime Ministers and governments, Indigenous leaders and organisations have tried to advance this cause.

The government I led set out to bring a referendum on constitutional recognition to the people by the 2013 election. I appointed an Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians to advise on the wording.

On that panel were some of our most persuasive and respected Indigenous leaders, including The Hon. Ken Wyatt AM, the first Indigenous Australian to serve in the House of Representatives.

The panel’s recommendations were sensible and smart.

But before we could proceed, we needed to diagnose the prospects of success at a referendum. The very worst thing we could do would be to put a referendum proposal forward only to have it fail.

The consensus was we did not have time to build momentum for change ahead of a 2013 election.

That need for certainty remains a critical issue for today’s leaders as they move towards a proposal to put to the people.

But much has changed since 2013 and we can all be heartened by that.  I am especially heartened that we have, for the first time, extremely talented and respected Aboriginal people from both sides of politics leading Indigenous policy and discussion on this issue.

With bi-partisan support, shared commitment and collaboration, change is achievable.

We know wellbeing is intrinsically linked to a strong sense of self, connections to community, and recognition of culture.

That is why I and my Beyond Blue Board colleagues recently approved a comprehensive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy to guide our contribution for the next five years. Through the Strategy, we have resolved to continue to advocate on national issues of importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We are particularly determined to raise our voice in support of an openhearted and respectful response to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Beyond Blue acknowledges that there are still community and political discussions occurring about constitutional change and recognition. As that conversation continues, Beyond Blue advocacy will be aimed at our nation adopting the kind of far-sighted change that can bring a new era of healing and unity.

This isn’t a mental health organisation dabbling in politics. We do it because structural discrimination has a profound and proven negative impact on individual and community wellbeing and mental health.

This is absolutely about ‘sticking to our knitting’.

This is about the Board of Beyond Blue supporting action on the basis there will be significant benefit to a population group at higher risk of mental health conditions and suicide, and who experience discrimination and disadvantage.

The Board of Beyond Blue also accepts the invitation issued in the Uluru Statement from the Heart to walk with you in ‘a movement of the Australian people for a better future’.

To our federal parliamentarians who are working through how best to respond to the Uluru statement my personal message is this; I know what it is like to be beset with doubts about the best way to respond to a call to address trauma and despair. To worry about making the wrong decision, one that risks more damage.

I went through every painful permutation of that in my head when I worked through whether to call a Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings. I am not ashamed to say here that in the face of such a major decision, I was afraid.

Specifically, I was afraid that holding a Royal Commission would retraumatise, rather than heal.

As history records, I worked through those fears and called the Commission. I know now from my own observations of the impact of the Royal Commission that great healing can come from heeding the call, truth-telling and acknowledgement of past trauma.

I ask our current leaders on all sides of the parliamentary chamber to work through their fears and concerns. I ask our current leaders to heed the call of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Conclusion

Suicide in our Indigenous communities is one of the greatest challenges of our times and its causes are complex.

Beyond Blue cannot claim or seek to be a specialist or comprehensive provider of social and emotional wellbeing or suicide prevention services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

That is a role which is more appropriately the domain of Aboriginal-led and community-controlled organisations.

But we can apply what we have learnt so far through our Reconciliation Action Plan, our growing cultural competencies, and strong relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, leaders and organisations.

We can complement the work of the Aboriginal organisations and others by ensuring our major interventions are suitable for, and accessible to, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wherever possible, and use our well-known brand and strength in communications to fight racism and discrimination.

We will recognise those inherent protective factors of Indigenous cultures and communities – those powerful forces of resilience, humour, spirituality and connectedness – that can and should be utilised as sources of strength and healing.

We are ready to work alongside Indigenous people and communities in co-designing solutions to provide better outcomes for health and wellbeing.

We intend to be the best ally we can be, lend our voice when required and listen to learn.

We need to educate ourselves and ask questions when we need to; to commit, to support, to ally.

We pledge to be a positive force for change as the nation addresses the issue of constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always resisted actions designed to destroy their culture, disperse their families and sever their connections to Country.

The day will come when we look with pride upon that determination, and indeed celebrate it as a complete history.

I look forward with hope to that day and I thank you.

NACCHO Aboriginal #MentalHealth : Minister @KenWyattMP and @NRL roll out the Indigenous All Stars #StateofMind mental health program @DeadlyChoices

” Mental health is about being able to work and study to your full potential, cope with day-to-day life stresses, be involved in your community, and live your life in a free and satisfying way. A person who has good mental health has good emotional and social wellbeing and the capacity to cope with change and challenges.

Feeling down, tense, angry, anxious or moody are all normal emotions for people, but when these feelings persist for long periods of time, or if they begin to interfere with their daily life, they may be part of a mental health problem.

Mental health problems can affect your feelings, thoughts and actions, and can affect your ability to function in their everyday activities, whether at school, at work, or in relationships.

If you feel you know a person whose mental health is getting in the way of their daily life, it is important to let them know you are there to support them.

Most parents can tell when something is out of the ordinary, but there are also signs that suggest a young person might be experiencing a mental health problem. “

See Part 2 Below for More INFO and Support HELP Links

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

 ” The Federal Government is investing $660,000 over three years into the National Rugby League’s (NRL) Indigenous All Stars, State of Mind program.

The initiative will deliver mental health and resilience workshops to over 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including Indigenous All Stars players, youth summit participants and 15 grassroots clubs with a high proportion of First Nations players.

Elite players will be developed as mental health advocacy leaders within their clubs and communities, encouraging help-seeking behaviours. ”

Minister Ken Wyatt Press Release

With rugby league the most popular participation sport in First Nations communities, the NRL will leverage the game’s reach, profile, clubs and players, to help remove the stigma around mental illness.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience high, or very high, psychological distress, at a rate 2.6 times higher than the rest of the nation.

The NRL developed State of Mind in partnership with Lifeline, Kids Helpline, headspace and the Black Dog Institute.

State of Mind was promoted during the Indigenous All Stars game on Friday 15 February 2019 in Melbourne.

All Star Womens Team

The Deadly Choices and the VAHS ACCHO team set up outside of AAMI Park for the Indigenous All-Stars and visited the Fitzroy clinic

Mental health tools and resources, along with information about the program, is available on the NRL State of Mind website.

Our Government funds a number digital mental health and suicide prevention services, which support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including:

    • $34 million from 2017-19 for BeyondBlue, to provide information, resources and services on their website that support social and emotional wellbeing
    • $16.9 million from 2018-21 for MindSpot, for their free, national online clinic for the treatment of anxiety and depression
    • $6.4 million per year for headspace for their eheadspace program, which provides free, confidential and anonymous telephone and web-based support for young people aged 12 to 25 years with, or at risk of developing, mild to moderate mental illness.

If you need help now

If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, contact mental health services or emergency services on 000.

If you need to speak to someone urgently, call Lifeline on 13 11 14or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

Or contact one of our 302 ACCHO Clinics

Part 2 State of Mind 

Signs and Symptoms

It can be helpful to talk to someone about what’s going on in your life if you have noticed a change in how you are feeling and thinking. This might include:

  • Feeling things have changed or aren’t quite right
  • Changes in the way that you carry out your day-to-day life
  • Not enjoying, or not wanting to be involved in things that you would normally enjoy
  • Changes in appetite or sleeping patterns
  • Being easily irritated or having problems with friends and family for no reason
  • Finding your performance at school, TAFE, university or work is not as good as it used to be
  • Being involved in risky behavior that you would usually avoid, like taking drugs or drinking too much alcohol, or depending on these substances to feel “normal”
  • Feeling sad or ‘down’ or crying for no apparent reason
  • Having trouble concentrating or remembering things
  • Having negative, distressing, bizarre or unusual thoughts
  • Feeling unusually stressed or worried.

Metal health risk factors

A number of overlapping factors may increase your risk of developing a mental health problem. These can include:

  • Early life experiences: abuse, neglect, or the loss of someone close to you
  • Individual factors: level of self-esteem, coping skills and thinking styles
  • Current circumstances: stress at school or work, money problems, difficult personal relationship, or problems within your family
  • Biological factors: family history of mental health problems

Looking after your mental health

here are a number of things you can do to look after and maintain your mental health and wellbeing. For example, many people cope with stress by getting involved with sports, exercising, meditating, or practising yoga or relaxation techniques. Others express themselves through art, such as poetry, writing or music. What you eat might also affect your mood – a well-balanced diet will help keep you both physically and mentally healthy.

If you are concerned about your own or a friend’s mental health and wellbeing, headspace is a great place to go for help. Getting support can help you keep on track at school, study or work, and in your personal and family relationships. The sooner you get help the sooner things can begin to improve for you.

The link between good mental health and exercise

Physical exercise is good for our mental health and for our brains. Exercise seems to have an effect on certain chemicals (dopamine and serotonin) in the brain. Brain cells use these chemicals to communicate with each other, so they affect your mood and thinking. Exercise can also stimulate other chemicals in the brain (brain derived neurotrophic factors) which help new brain cells to grow and develop. Exercise also seems to reduce harmful changes in the brain caused by stress.

Any exercise is better than none. A moderate level of exercise seems to work best. This is roughly equivalent to walking fast, but being able to talk to someone at the same time. It’s recommended that if you’re aged 12-18 you need 60 minutes, or if you’re over 18 you need 30 minutes, of moderate physical exercise on most, but preferably all days. This can be done in one 30 minute session or broken up into shorter 10 or 15 minute sessions.

When you’re feeling down the last thing you might feel like doing is working out, but studies have suggested that any activity, from walking around the block to yoga to biking could contribute to improving the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Visit www.headspace.org.au for more information on all of the above topics.

NACCHO Mental Health Week : Time for a new deal on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health

6820386

“The National Mental Health Commission Review into mental health, released in April, called for Indigenous mental health to be made a national priority with a new ‘Closing the Gap’ mental health target and yet nearly four months later there doesn’t appear to be any progress,

“We also urgently need for our mental health and alcohol and other drugs services to be under the auspices of the Federal Department of Health rather than being separated into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet where it currently is.

This illogical separation makes coordination of health services more difficult; it is an entirely avoidable obstacle to success and the new Turnbull Government must reverse it,”

QAIHC CEO (and NACCHO Chair) , Matt Cooke, said that there were immediate steps that Governments should take to improve the effectiveness of mental health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples (see QAIHC full press release below )

The healing potential of wild landscapes is being used to counter the devastating impact of the history of colonisation on Indigenous mental health in the Kimberley.

FROM THE ABC Kimberley

It may look like a simple fishing trip in the vast landscape around west Kimberley’s Fitzroy River.

But the four-wheel-drive trailing a plume of dust across the seemingly endless mudflat is at the forefront of a progressive mental health initiative running out of the small town of Derby.

For four years, Aboriginal mental health worker James Howard has tackled some of Australia’s worst mental health statistics by going bush and building relationships with other Indigenous men.

“Just with my men I’ve been taking out, I’ve seen them get a bit of confidence in talking with other people,” he said.

Each week the Derby men’s mental health group goes bush for the day, cleaning up popular fishing destinations, wetting a line and enjoying the therapeutic benefits of the country.

Mr Howard leads the group with gentle, unassuming wisdom and a legendary ability with a throw-net and fishing line.

While he loves the celebrations that follow the catching of metre-long barramundi, Mr Howard prizes the impact the group has had on its members above all else.

In particular he remembers a member of the group who taught him what was really happening when they went bush.

“I think it’s the ultimate success the group can have, is after three months he told me, ‘I won’t be able to come out next week because I’m doing a computer course at TAFE’,” Mr Howard recalled.

“Ever since then I’ve seen it as not just taking them fishing, I’ve seen it as something that could be greater, and could give them a kick-start.”

But just having Indigenous men join the group is a big step in providing support.

“Another benefit is even coming into the mental health office; they’ve got that connection there,” Mr Howard said.

“I’m probably not seen as a mental health nurse or a caseworker, I’m seen as James.”

Culture and colonisation in Indigenous mental health

It’s exactly what has been missing from mental health services for Indigenous people, according to psychologist and national mental health commissioner, Professor Pat Dudgeon.

Professor Pat Dudgeon

“Often Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are presenting at emergency departments with severe mental health problems, rather than engaging in services early and getting treatment in a preventative way,” she said.

Dr Dudgeon said mental health services had failed to reach many Indigenous people because they had not been culturally appropriate or locally controlled.

“No matter where the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander group are, there is cultural difference,” she said.

“A lot of people forget about that and they think that the same method, or program, or treatment can be used for mainstream and then for Indigenous groups.”

As well as cultural differences, Dr Dudgeon said understanding the pervasive role of history was essential to improving Indigenous mental health.

“There has been a dreadful history of colonisation. People have been removed from location, they’ve had their culture denigrated, children have been stolen off families,” she said.

Although Australia’s colonisation was historical, Dr Dudgeon said it was an overarching force in contemporary Indigenous mental health.

“We’ve got all the statistics on that about poverty, lack of employment, education, etcetera etcetera; they’re still those consequences of colonisation,” she said.

The therapeutic benefits of country

Chris is one of the Derby men’s mental health group’s success stories.

When he first joined the bush trips, he was struggling to cope with severe schizophrenia, exacerbated by alcohol abuse.

“I was really bad. I had to spend a couple of times in a mental institution,” he said.

Over three-and-a-half years, the combination of the bond he formed with Mr Howard and the healing influence of the wild landscapes have transformed Chris.

“You think real hard, and when you think too hard you get paranoid. So coming out here with James, that takes that all away,” he said.

“It helps you to relax, like switch your mind off, and all you’ve got to do is have patience now and wait for the barra to bite.”

Over time, Chris has learnt how to transfer the peace of mind found in the bush to other parts of his life.

“When you go home, it’s back there, but you reflect on the day that you had and things are sweet,” he said.

It’s an experience that has given Chris some power over his mental illness, and optimism for his future.

“I suffer from schizophrenia, but I don’t let that word get to me,” he said.

“It’s still with me, but I’m slowly getting out of it.”

QAIHC Press Release

Time for a new deal on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health

Queensland’s Aboriginal and Islander community-controlled health organisations have called for greater coordination in the funding and delivery of mental health services.

At the start of Mental Health Week, the sector’s peak body, QAIHC, said today that the particular and unique circumstances faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples required a unique approach to improving mental illness.

QAIHC CEO, Matt Cooke, said that there were immediate steps that Governments should take to improve the effectiveness of mental health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples.

“The National Mental Health Commission Review into mental health, released in April, called for Indigenous mental health to be made a national priority with a new ‘Closing the Gap’ mental health target and yet nearly four months later there doesn’t appear to be any progress,” said Mr Cooke.

“We also urgently need for our mental health and alcohol and other drugs services to be under the auspices of the Federal Department of Health rather than being separated into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet where it currently is.

“This illogical separation makes coordination of health services more difficult; it is an entirely avoidable obstacle to success and the new Turnbull Government must reverse it,” Mr Cooke said.

“The continuing high rates of self-harm, suicide, incarceration and substance misuse among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are indicators that much more needs to be done and we just don’t have the luxury of time; changes are needed right now.”

Mr Cooke also called for greater investment into workforce training to create a new cohort of Aboriginal and Islander mental health workers and counsellors.

“Much more work is needed to open pathways to university degrees in psychology and psychiatry for Aboriginal and Islander people.

“There are currently only about 80 Indigenous psychologists in the country and we need about six hundred if want to achieve parity with the population. We need trained mental health workers in every one of Queensland’s 24 community-controlled health services to begin tackling the heartache of suicide and self-harm in particular,” he said.

Mr Cooke said that there are many examples of extremely successful community-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health initiatives in drug rehabilitation, suicide prevention and other mental health related challenges.

“Initiatives such as the QAIHC ‘Lighting the Dark’ Suicide Prevention Program which was delivered across 10 communities in Queensland have been well received by community as an effective means of addressing suicide.

“QAIHC is partnering with St Johns to roll out Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid across our community controlled health services; increasing individual awareness of the risk factors and providing them with skills in working with individuals who are experiencing social, emotional wellbeing, mental illness or suicidal ideation. These initiatives will save lives,” said Mr Cooke.

He also referred to the National Empowerment Project currently underway in Kuranda and Cherbourg as another example of a holistic approach using culture and spirituality to empower local people and reduce the terrible burden of mental illness.

“What we truly need from Governments is a better directing of funding and a sensible approach to removing obstacles that stand in the way of community-based solutions,” he concluded.

“We have the will, the intellect and the determination to address the mental health issues in our communities; what are missing are suitable resources and a trained expert Aboriginal workforce to implement innovative programs which empower our people.

“These are the responsibilities of Governments and we remain hopeful they will take up the challenge to support us.”

NACCHO SEWB News: NACCHO CEO appointed to new Aboriginal Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group

Lisa Final

Pictured above NACCHO CEO Ms Lisa Briggs appointed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group.

Please note: Official Goverment release is included below

NACCHO as a member The Close the Gap Campaign today welcomed a significant mental health milestone:  the establishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group.

The new ministerial advisory body, co-chaired by Dr Tom Calma AO and Professor Pat Dudgeon, is the first of its kind in Australia.

The other members of the new Group are (alphabetically): Mr Tom Brideson, Ms Lisa Briggs, Mr Ashley Couzens, Ms Adele Cox, Ms Katherine Hams, Ms Victoria Hovane, Professor Ernest Hunter, Mr Rod Little, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, Mr Charles Passi, Ms Valda Shannon and Dr Marshall Watson.

It will provide expert advice to government on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention.

Close the Gap co-chair and Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, said the group will help drive reform in mental health and suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Improving mental health and suicide prevention is fundamental to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health overall, and to closing the health and life expectancy gap with other Australians,” Mr Gooda said.

Mr Gooda said the advisory body would help ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people benefit from national mental health reforms and the significant investment in mental health in recent years.

He said the advisory body would also improve strategic responses to suicide and mental health by enabling partnerships between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts in social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are experiencing mental health problems at almost double the rate of other Australians.

“Addressing difficult and entrenched challenges like this mental health gap requires long term and sustained commitment and a truly bipartisan approach.

“It is particularly important as we move into a Federal election that closing the gap remains a national project that is supported and sustained beyond electoral cycles,” Mr Gooda said.

 Commonwealth Coat of Arms

THE HON MARK BUTLER MP ,THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP, JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

NEW HIGH-LEVEL GROUP ADVISE ON TACKLING INDIGENOUS SUICIDE

A new expert group has been set up to advise the Federal Government on improving mental health and suicide prevention programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group will be chaired by two eminent Aboriginal experts in the field, Prof Pat Dudgeon, recognised as Australia’s first Indigenous psychologist, and human rights campaigner Dr Tom Calma AO, the new chancellor of the University of Canberra.

The new Group will advise on practical and strategic ways to improve Indigenous mental health and social and emotional wellbeing.

The Group met for the first time in Canberra today to discuss its priorities, including implementation of the recently released National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Also on the agenda for the inaugural meeting are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan and the renewed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Wellbeing Framework.

Professor Dudgeon is from the Bardi people of the Kimberley and is known for her passionate work in psychology and Indigenous issues, including her leadership in higher education.  Currently she is a research fellow and an associate professor at the University of Western Australia.

Dr Calma is an elder of the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group in the Northern Territory. He was appointed National Coordinator of Tackling Indigenous Smoking three years ago.

Previously, he was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2004 to 2010 and served as Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 until 2009.

The other members of the new Group are (alphabetically): Mr Tom Brideson, Ms Lisa Briggs, Mr Ashley Couzens, Ms Adele Cox, Ms Katherine Hams, Ms Victoria Hovane, Professor Ernest Hunter, Mr Rod Little, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, Mr Charles Passi, Ms Valda Shannon and Dr Marshall Watson.

The Federal Labor Government’s commitment to reducing high levels of suicide within Indigenous communities was highlighted by its development and recent release of Australia’s first National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

The Strategy is supported by $17.8 million over four years in new funding to reduce the incidence of suicidal and self-harming behaviour among Indigenous people.

This builds on the Labor Government’s broad strategic investment in suicide prevention, as outlined in the Taking Action to Tackle Suicide package and the National Suicide Prevention Program which, together, include $304.2 million in vital programs and services across Australia.

Funding already allocated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs under these two national suicide programs, includes:

  • $4.6 million for community-led suicide prevention initiatives.
  • $150,000 for enhanced psychological services for Indigenous communities in the Kimberley Region, through the Access to Allied Psychological Services program.
  • $6 million for targeted suicide prevention interventions.

Media contact: Tim O’Halloran (Butler) – 0409 059 617/Marcus Butler (Snowdon) – 0417 917 796