“ The Federal Government welcomes the #YouCanTalk campaign, which encourages Australians struggling with their mental health to reach out and find support.
The awareness campaign is a collaboration between several organisations, including Beyond Blue, Everymind, headspace, Lifeline, ReachOut, RU OK?, SANE Australia, the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention, Roses in the Ocean and the Black Dog Institute.
The campaign will take place over the December-January holiday period, in recognition of how difficult this time of year can be for many Australians.
Our Government commends the collaboration of these organisations to raise awareness about the importance of starting a conversation, particularly over the Christmas-New Year period.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt Press Release continued Part 1 below
” Suicide has emerged in the past half century as a major cause of premature mortality and is a contributor to the overall health and life expectancy gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
In 2018 it was the fifth leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the age-standardised suicide rate was more than twice as high as the non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s rate.”
#YouCanTalk exists to encourage all Australians to have a conversation with a friend, family member or work colleague they’re concerned about.
While it can be difficult to talk about suicide, research shows you can have a positive influence on someone who may be considering suicide by initiating a conversation with them and supporting them to seek help.
The main message is you don’t need to be a clinician, a GP, or a nurse to check-in with someone you are worried about.
It is OK to let someone know you have noticed they are struggling and ask them if they are experiencing thoughts of suicide.
It is normal to feel worried or nervous about having a conversation with a friend, family member or work colleague who might be experiencing suicidal thoughts, but there are resources available to help you.
Life in Mind is a national digital gateway providing organisations and communities access to suicide prevention information, programs, services, resources and research.
Tips to consider if you are talking to someone you are worried about:
It is better to reach out than avoid the person for fear of getting the conversation wrong. Experts generally agree that asking someone whether they are thinking about suicide is unlikely to make the situation worse or ‘put ideas in their head’.
If you feel uncertain if your friend or loved one may be at risk, ask the question directly – “Are you having thoughts about suicide?” and be prepared for the answer to be yes.
Make the person feel comfortable by listening without judgement or criticism and don’t try to ‘fix’ the problem or talk them out of suicide. Just listen.
Ensure they are safe for now and talk to the person about who else to involve so they can be supported. You can assist by connecting them with other supports and services.
Connect with resources and supports that are available to you to help you navigate the conversation.
Suicide has emerged in the past half century as a major cause of premature mortality and is a contributor to the overall health and life expectancy gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
In 2018 it was the fifth leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the age-standardised suicide rate was more than twice as high as the non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s rate.
The standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (24.1 per 100, 000) was higher than the non-Indigenous rate (12.4 per 100, 000)2.
On average, over 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons end their lives through suicide each year, accounting for 1 in 20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths.
There is variable quality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification at the state and national levels, resulting in an expected under-reporting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides.
Lack of reporting on suicide due to questions regarding intent, especially in the case of childhood suicides. Similarly, it can be demonstrated that there may be a reluctance to classify adult deaths as suicides for a variety of reasons also.
Delays in reporting data, whereby incidences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide might not be known for months and often years after the fact.
Preventing suicide is an agreed national policy priority. Significant reforms have occurred in Australia in the area of suicide prevention and it is agreed that an all-of-government response is required.
“ 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
” 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.
” 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.”
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.firstname.lastname@example.org
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.email@example.com,
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/ ·
“There is now growing evidence that the legacy of colonisation has contributed to the disproportionate rat. es of suicide and suicidal behaviours and other disadvantages experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The effects of colonisation are evident in the structural barriers and lack of access to culturally responsive hospitals and family support services that underscore the urgent need for these guidelines as part of a broader suicide prevention strategy.”
Professor Pat Dudgeon, Director of the Centre for Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention( CBPATSISP )
“Assessing risk of suicide is a complex task in any setting, but particularly in the hospital setting, as it can be a very discomforting time for people. There is a pressing need to respond adequately and carefully during this time.”
The Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies), commissioned by CBPATSISP have developed evidenced-based the Guidelines for best practice psychosocial assessment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting to hospital with self-harm and suicidal thoughts (the Guidelines) to improve the quality of care and outcomes for people presenting with suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
A history of self-harm is one of the strongest known risk factors for suicide and represents an important opportunity to engage with people in a preventive intervention.
The Guidelines contain 227 evidence-based recommendations that have been endorsed by an expert panel of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous professionals and those with lived experience using the Delphi method for establishing an expert consensus on best practice.
The Guidelines provide the principled basis for culturally appropriate health care. To better achieve cultural responsiveness in practice and improve the quality of care for Aboriginal and Torres Islander people presenting to hospital with self-harm and suicidal thoughts, the guidelines contains recommendations for appropriately and effectively interacting with and engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in ways that are empowering and de-stigmatising.
Tanja Hirvonen states,
“It was highlighted that the type of assessment tool that is used is significant, but just as critical is to ensure that the right information is gathered, and people are appropriately supported during a very critical time in their lives, within a culturally safe model of practice and care.”
Recommendations in the guidelines for evaluating risks, strengths and needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a strong grounding in the concept of social and emotional wellbeing to ensure that assessments inform the most appropriate and effective options for care in the hospital and recovery in the community.
A number of recommendations have also been included to help clinicians respond in developmentally and culturally appropriate ways to self-harm and suicidal thoughts amongst young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Professor Pat Dudgeon concluded:
“These new Guidelines have potential to make a genuine difference for Aboriginal people at risk of suicide or self-harm who present at emergency departments. CBPATSISP is committed to disseminating these guidelines widely and we will advocate to ensure that relevant agencies, such as the Australian Indigenous Psychology Association, are supported to develop cultural competence training and engage hospitals in embedding these guidelines into practice at a national level.”
” Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, hosted a Government-led roundtable this week to review investment to date in mental health and suicide prevention, to hear from the sector on current gaps and priorities, to understand what is and is not working, and to advise on the upcoming national forum on youth mental health and suicide prevention.
Minister Hunt and Prime Minister Scott Morrison are committed to working towards zero-suicide for all Australians, including our youth. ”
Those in attendance welcomed the Government’s commitment, with a number noting that suicide prevention needs to be a priority across all age groups, especially those groups with the highest suicide rates.
The conversation covered a range of key issues, challenges and opportunities for reform and action. Particular discussion points included:
Social determinants of mental health: there is a fundamental need to focus on the social determinants of mental health for all Australians, noting and emphasising the range of factors that contribute to distress in young Australians. This is an important factor for all young people and communities, with particular reference to the factors impacting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth.
The impact of trauma and disadvantage: conversation centred on the impacts of trauma and disadvantage and the importance of supporting, for example, young people in out-of-home care, those living in poverty and individuals who are in the justice system.
Support for children and families: in order to improve the lives of young Australians, there is a need to better support children and families in the early years. This includes support for neurodevelopmental disorders. In the same way headspace has been developed for young people, there was a suggestion that mental health services focused on children and families could show real benefits. There is strong support for a focus on prevention
Support for Schools: a continued need was highlighted around the role of, and support for, schools, including primary schools and early learning centres. Schools are a critical component of a ‘whole of community’ approach in building supportive environments for children and young people. It was suggested that for families who may not seek services but who were in need a way of ‘connecting’ may be through digital tools, to identify and support children and parents in those families.
Impact on youth: young people can be seriously impacted and influenced by the suicide death of other young people who are their friends, peers, family members or celebrities. More timely and sophisticated data and comprehensive local responses are needed to assist in the reduction of risk for further lives being lost following a suicide.
Data: The importance of being able to collect, analyse and provide accurate data was highlighted. This data is significant across mental health services and particularly for suicide prevention, treatment and support services.
Service reform: there is a need for service reform to better respond to people with mental health concerns that are too complex to be managed by a GP at a primary health care level but not so acute as to require specialist tertiary mental health services. While there are some good programs and services to build upon, there is a lack of equity across all regions and access remains a key issue for those requiring psychological and other services. We also need to integrate mental health services with drug and alcohol services.
Workforce development: there is an urgent need to focus on training and supporting the diverse professionals working with those at risk of or with mental health issues – health and allied health staff, drug and alcohol workers, school counsellors, psychologists, peer workers and many others. The role of peer workers was recognised as being a critical one and this must be included in all workforce development strategies and initiatives.
Peer and carer support: many families and peers supporting those who are in suicidal distress and/or living with challenging mental health and drug and alcohol concerns needed immediate and quality support themselves as they are also at risk for mental ill-health. Families and friends are the largest non-clinical workforce providing care and support for Australians and there is an immediate need to provide better supports for them.
Regional and national leadership: while attendees were supportive of regional planning and action, it was suggested that stronger guidance at a national level was needed in order to ensure equity and quality of service responses across the country, with a recognition of the importance of the role of Primary Health Networks. Further work is needed to ensure that the roles and responsibilities of all governments were clarified, together with accountability. The Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, and particularly the Suicide Prevention Implementation Plan, are key drivers for clearer accountability and integrated and coordinated responses.
Funding models: there was discussion on how best to fund services across the range of needs, including the current review of Medicare and the role of private health insurance.
A collective agreement and strong commitment was reached that a collaborative approach is vital to achieving improved mental health outcomes for all Australians, including children and youth.
There is significant support for a 2030 Vision for mental health and suicide prevention, to be led by the Commission and to ensure that the systematic changes required to best service the community can be identified, prioritised and achieved. This Vision would be look beyond the current plans and strategies.
Attendees acknowledged the commitment to mental health and quality program responses in recent years, together with the increased funding in the 2019/20 federal budget for expanded youth and adult mental health services in the community, together with initiatives to strengthen the collection of critical data around suicide and mentally healthy workplaces. They also noted the current enquiries being undertaken by the Productivity Commission and the Victorian Royal Commission. However, there needs to be an increased focus on longer term systems reform. The Commission has been tasked with taking a leading role in this and will work closely with the sector to develop a reform pathway.
Participants embraced the importance of hope, recognising not only the significant investment to date but that youth mental health services in Australia have been copied by other nations. There is strong support for improvements in mental health and suicide prevention across all levels of government and community.
As outlined by the Minister for Health, this was an opportunity to review the current status and continue this important discussion. It is one of many conversations that will continue with the sector at organisational, group and individual levels.
The Commission will provide updates in sector engagement and discussions as they occur.
“It is beyond distressing to see report after report about young Aboriginal people who see their lives as so bleak that they see no other option but to take their own lives.
The Statement of Intent underscores the Government will co-design services with Aboriginal people.
We are committed to be a Government that listens to and works with Aboriginal people to make a real difference in this area.
We are also determined to working with the Commonwealth Government and local groups in order to bring about a truly co-operative and collaborative approach to addressing this problem.”
WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt
“Young Aboriginal people continue to take their own lives at an unfathomable rate. I extend my deepest sympathies to those families and communities that have been heartbroken by these tragic events.
The issues are complex and it is clear that we need to develop a comprehensive reform agenda that is informed by the community, designed by the community and driven by the community.
The Statement of Intent makes it clear that our Government is absolutely committed to addressing the recommendations of the Coroner’s Inquest and the Message Stick report, to deliver real, long-term positive change for Aboriginal people.
The McGowan Government is determined to work across community and governments to ensure that this does not become another report that collects dust.”
Deputy Premier Roger Cook
McGowan Government releases preliminary response to the Coroner’s Inquest into Aboriginal youth suicide in the Kimberley and the Message Stick Inquiry
McGowan Government accepts all 86 recommendations, combined in both reports
Statement of Intent outlines Government’s commitment to work with Aboriginal people to tackle the issues that contribute to Aboriginal youth suicide
A reform agenda will be developed in partnership with local Aboriginal people to address the recommendations
Following further consultation with Aboriginal communities, full response expected by end of the year
The McGowan Government today released its preliminary response to the State Coroner’s Inquest into the deaths of 13 children and young people in the Kimberley and the 2016 Message Stick Inquiry into Aboriginal youth suicide in remote areas.
The Statement of Intent outlines the McGowan Government’s unwavering commitment to a partnership approach to address the recommendations from the Coroner’s Inquest and Message Stick Inquiry.
Of the combined 86 recommendations included in both reports, the Government has fully accepted 22, accepted 33 in principle, has already implemented or started implementing 16 and is still considering the feasibility or implications of a further 11. Four of the Message Stick recommendations have been superseded by subsequent events.
The McGowan Government will be working with Aboriginal people to develop a whole-ofgovernment reform agenda to address the recommendations, and a comprehensive response to the reports is expected by the end of the year.
The Government will co-design place-based initiatives in partnership with Aboriginal people, communities and organisations, which will positively impact the livelihood of young Aboriginal people.
4.Address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide rates
Provide $50 million over four years to ACCHOs to address the national crisis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide in vulnerable communities o 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; and
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
The McGowan Government is committed to addressing Aboriginal youth suicide, and a number of initiatives are included in this year’s State Budget that support Aboriginal youth wellbeing:
$6.5 million for the Aboriginal Community Connectors program to improve community safety and reduce community consequences of alcohol and other drugs and related ‘at risk’ behaviours;
Diversionary programs in the Kimberley, including the Kununurra PCYC ($2 million) and the West Kimberley Youth and Resilience Hub ($1.3 million);
$20.1 million for the North West Drug and Alcohol Support Program to reduce the harm caused by alcohol and other drugs in the Kimberley, Pilbara, and Mid-West;
Continued support for the work of the Mental Health Commission in reducing suicide risk in Western Australia via the Suicide Prevention: 2020 strategy ($8.1 million); and
A Kimberley Juvenile Justice Strategy ($900,000) to develop place-based prevention and diversion initiatives for young people across the Kimberley.
The Statement of Intent, which includes the Government’s preliminary response to the Coroner’s Inquest and Message Stick Inquiry, can be downloaded from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet’s website.
“To tell you the truth, no services really helped, I reached out, reached out for all my kids. All [services] let me down. Where we are, for instance, there’s no mental health there. We’re in a little town 230 kays away from Kal[goorlie].
We have nothing. Our kids have no hope, nothing, just a sense of no belonging, nothing. Lost everything, culture. Do more, do more things for our youth, put things there, especially in country towns,” she said.
I know it’s hard, but set some programs up, give them some sense of belonging, sense of hope.”
Norma Ashwin from Leonora in WA’s Goldfields region lost her son to suicide about a year ago and travelled to Canberra for the ATSISPEP suicide prevention report launch.
Ms Ashwin was part of a group of Aboriginal families who have lost relatives to suicide that met Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull before Thursday’s launch.
She urged Governments to focus on young people in regional areas.
Part 3 NACCHO Coverage #ATSISPEP report
Our thanks to Suicide Prevention researcher and campaigner, Gerry Georgatos – Institute of Social Justice and Human Rights for assistance with photos
“There’s nothing worse, as you would know, to get a call in the middle of the night or the early hours of the morning from a relation, and most of us experience this as Aboriginal people, to tell you that someone has died,” he said.
The West Australian Labor senator is based in the Kimberley region and recalled the death at Fitzroy Crossing, a town east of Broome.
“Someone very young has taken their life,” Senator Dodson said.
“I know it happened in Fitzroy [Crossing], a dear 12-year-old boy whose parents found him.
“Whatever caused that, I don’t know, and it’s very hard for us to understand.”
Nearly a third of children who take their own lives in Australia are Indigenous.
Government commits to adopting some recommendations
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) was undertaken over more than a year.
” The many years of community-generated work in suicide prevention is something that Indigenous Australia, as a collective, should take great pride in.
However, we have to acknowledge also that this alone has not been enough to stop Indigenous suicide rates overall getting higher recently, and that some communities remain at particularly high risk.
ATSISPEP’s first challenge was to identify ‘what works:’ the success factors evident from the suicide prevention work already undertaken in our communities. The second challenge was to support the dissemination of ‘what works’ across all communities: to share knowledge, and ensure that all can benefit from this collective wisdom and experience.”
Professor Pat Dudgeon and Professor Tom Calma AO Website
Photo above : Page 15 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper to be published 16 November
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) is a unique Indigenous-led research project to identify ‘what works’ to prevent suicide in our communities.
At launch at Parliament House with politicians from all parties and special guests the family of Norma from Leonora who lost a son not long ago and Lena from Fitzroy Crossings who lost a daughter.
Our rates of suicide today are twice as high as other Australians and probably growing. Like the tip of an iceberg, high rates of suicide in a community can be a sign of deeper and complex community-wide problems, involving families and people caught in cycles of despair and a sense of hopelessness. Yet not all our communities, even those facing similar challenges, experience the same rates of suicide.
ATSISPEP was developed with the recognition that for many years Indigenous Elders, community leaders and healers in some of our worst-affected communities have been working tirelessly to prevent suicide.
Often volunteering, and with little or no financial support, they have generated community-specific and culturally-based ways of bringing people back from the edge of suicide and also supporting families who are bereaved by loss.
In some cases, they have worked with entire communities to address the underlying community-level issues that can contribute to a suicide, for example, unemployment, violence, and alcohol and drug use. In others, they have connected young people to their Indigenous identity and culture and the sense of worth this can bring.
The many years of community-generated work in suicide prevention is something that Indigenous Australia, as a collective, should take great pride in.
However, we have to acknowledge also that this alone has not been enough to stop Indigenous suicide rates overall getting higher recently, and that some communities remain at particularly high risk.
ATSISPEP’s first challenge was to identify ‘what works:’ the success factors evident from the suicide prevention work already undertaken in our communities. The second challenge was to support the dissemination of ‘what works’ across all communities: to share knowledge, and ensure that all can benefit from this collective wisdom and experience.
The report includes an analysis of Indigenous suicide prevention program evaluations and previous research and consultations on Indigenous suicide prevention. It includes the input of ATSISPEP-held regional community roundtables, and roundtables on specific topics (for example, on Indigenous young people and suicide prevention, justice issues, and Indigenous LGBTQI and suicide prevention).
ATSISPEP also held a national conference in Alice Springs this May. It was an opportunity to test our work and gather even more information from the 370 attendees, most of whom were Indigenous.
A selection of some of the success factors identified in the report includes:
Community-specific programs to address the community-level contributing factors that can lead to suicide.
Community development and ownership of programs.
Access to culturally competent counsellors and mental health support for people at immediate risk of suicide.
The involvement of Elders in programs.
Cultural frameworks for programs, and cultural elements in them: for example, culturally-informed healing practices and connecting young people to country.
Alcohol and drug use-reduction as a part of an overall response.
Gatekeeper training, whereby community members are trained to identify people at risk of suicide and connect them to help.
For young people, peer to peer mentoring, and education and leadership on suicide prevention.
24-hour, seven-day a week availability of support.
With ATSISPEP complete, the implementation of the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy (with almost $18 million pledged to it) through the Primary Health Networks, and the establishment of at least two Indigenous suicide prevention trial sites (that were recently announced by the Australian Government) can proceed on an evidence-based footing. ATSISPEP has also generated tools for both Indigenous communities and Primary Health Networks to use to develop and strengthen programs.
Our NACCHO CEO Pat Turner as a contributor to the report attended the launch pictured here with Senator Patrick Dodson and co-author Prof. Pat Dudgeon
The hope of ATSISPEP is that its report will help bring about a new era in Indigenous suicide prevention in which many lives will be saved. It is now incumbent on Australian governments to ensure that our communities receive the support they need to help make this happen.