NACCHO Aboriginal Mental Health #RUOKDay @ruokday ? Download #RUOKSTRONGERTOGETHER resources a targeted #MentalHealth #SuicidePrevention campaign to encourage conversation within our communities. Contributions inc Dr Vanessa Lee @joewilliams_tew @ShannanJDodson

Regardless of where we live, or who our mob is, we can all go through tough times, times when we don’t feel great about our lives or ourselves. That’s why it’s important to always be looking out for each other.

If someone you know – a family member, someone from your community, a friend, neighbour or workmate – is doing it tough, they won’t always tell you.
Sometimes it’s up to us to trust our gut instinct and ask someone who may be struggling with life “Are you OK?”.

By asking and listening, we can help those we care about feel more supported and connected, which can help stop them from feeling worse over time.

That’s why this campaign has a simple message: Let’s talk. We are stronger together

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

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

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

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

Read over 130 + NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Suicide Prevention articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See full story Part 2 Below or HERE

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

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

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

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

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

STRONGER TOGETHER includes the release of four community announcement video

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2

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

Originally Published the Guardian and IndigenousX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aboriginal #MentalHealth and #RUOKDay 14 Sept Advanced Speeches : The cause bringing Turnbull and Shorten together

 ” The truth is that mental health is enormously costly, in every respect.

It’s costly for individuals who suffer, its costly to their families but it’s especially costly when people take their own lives.

So we all have a vested interest in each others’ mental health. The most important thing we can do is to look out for each other.

Yes, governments and parliaments and health professionals spend money and trial new approaches and use digital technologies more effectively and we’re doing all these things and we’ll no doubt do much more in the future.

But you know, just four letters ‘R U OK?’ can make a difference. Because they represent another four letters, ‘L O V E’ – love. That’s what it’s about; showing that love and care for the people with whom you are with, whether they are your families, your friends or your workmates. Reach out to them, ask are you okay, show you care.

You could not just change a life, you could save a life.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressing the RUOK Breakfast 12 September

Download his speech or read in full Part 2 Below PM Malcolm Turnbull RUOK

Read over 150 Aboriginal Mental Health articles published by NACCHO over 5 years

” We know that suicide is the scourge of rural and regional communities.

It takes a shocking toll on our people in the bush.

We know the suicide rate is twice as high amongst our First Australians, Pat Dodson has written movingly about those nights when his phone rings with the tragic news that another young person in the Kimberley has taken their life.

There is always time to start a conversation.

I think about all the people that I have known – and I am not sure I could have done anything then to change something.

But I wish that I knew then what I know now, and was able to ask these people: ‘Are you ok?’ “

Opposition Leader  Bill Shorten addressing the RUOK Breakfast 12 September

Download his speech or read in full Part 3 Below Bill Shorten RUOK

Part 1 The cause bringing Turnbull and Shorten together

From SBS Report

When Bill Shorten sat down to prepare some remarks for a parliamentary breakfast on suicide, he reflected on how many people he knew who had taken their own life.

He stopped at about seven.

“The thing about these people I thought about is that they remain forever young,” the opposition leader told an ‘R U Ok?’ gathering at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday.

Mr Shorten said he questioned what he could have done to help them or whether people didn’t see a sign.

He’s not alone. Seven people commit suicide on average every day in Australia.

“It is a silent crisis at the heart of our nation,” he said.

“These are preventable deaths.”

Mr Shorten reflected on veterans who feel let down by the nation they served and young people who feel like they don’t fit in.

The world of social media had created a form of emotional distance, a world of exotic holidays and glamorous events, he noted.

“The challenge is to look beyond the superficial snapshots of endless good times. To go further than simply clicking ‘like’.”

Mr Shorten believes MPs and senators are actually well placed to understand the message of the suicide prevention charity.

“In this very large building with thousands of people it can be a hard and isolating experience.”

“Suicide knows no boundaries, we are all in this together” Professor Gracelyn Smallwood in Townsville

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said suicide prevention was about people but the high statistics demand everyone do much better.

He believes a reluctance to talk about mental health issues – whether because of stigma or taboo – has been a barrier.

“You can’t deal with a problem that you don’t acknowledge,” he said.

Mr Turnbull noted the work of the late Watson’s Bay resident Don Ritchie who invited anxious people at The Gap nearby in for a chat and a cuppa.

“He would gently lure them back from the brink by doing no more than showing that he cared for them,” he said.

“That is why ‘R U Ok?’ day is so important.”

Mr Shorten was glad the event brought the two leaders together.

“It’s a galling thing when you’re leader of the opposition and the prime minister yells slogans at you,” he said.

“But then occasionally sometimes he gives a speech like that and I think ‘you’re not too bad after all’.”

Both agreed the mutual feeling would be over by question time.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Part 2 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressing the RUOK Breakfast 13 September

Well good morning. It’s great to be here with Andrew Wallace who is standing in for Julian Leeser, who together with Mike Kelly are Co-Chairs of the Friendship Group.

I acknowledge Greg Hunt, the Minister for Health and Sport, Bill Shorten, Julie Collins the Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health, Murray Bleach, the Chairman Suicide Prevention Australia, Mike Connaghan – Chairman of RUOK? and Mike and I were reflecting on how many decades it is since we first met and worked together in advertising but there it is. You’re looking very youthful. That’s what happens if you don’t go into politics.

And of course Professor Batterham is our guest speaker this morning – and so many other leaders in health and in suicide prevention, and of course all my Parliamentary colleagues here as well.

Now we’re all united here behind Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK? Day. Suicide Prevention Day was on Sunday and R U OK? Day is later this week.

Each year, around one in every five Australians experience mental illness and in 2015, more than 3,000 took their own life.

Now, suicide is about people, it’s about families, not numbers. But the statistics confront us all and call on us to do much better.

I am firmly of the view that our reluctance to talk about mental health issues – whether you call it a stigma or a taboo – has been a very real barrier to addressing this issue. You can’t deal with a problem that you do not acknowledge.

So we have started to talk about suicide and mental health and in an open and honest way, as we have not done in the past.

Now my own electorate of Wentworth includes one of the most beautiful yet tragic places in Australia, The Gap. It is a place where many, many Australians take their lives. A part of The Gap story until he died in 2012 was an extraordinary man called Don Ritchie who was an old sailor and also very tall, I might add.

For the best part of half a century, he lived near The Gap and when he would go for walks and he saw somebody there – anxious, perhaps standing on the wrong side of the fence – he would talk to them.

He would say: “Are you OK? How are you going? Do you want to have a chat? Do you want to come in and have a cup of tea?” He would gently lure them back from the brink by doing no more than showing that he cared for them.

That is why ‘R U OK? Day?’ is so important. Because what it is all about, is showing that we do care. Four letters ‘R U O K’ import so much. They send a message of love, they send a message of care. Critically important and what could be more Australian than looking out for your mates? Or looking out for people you don’t even know? Looking out for somebody who seems anxious, worried, or someone at work that isn’t quite themselves. It is a caring and a loving question. And it raises very prominently this issue of awareness, to the forefront.

At Gap Park for example, as the local Member, I’ve pushed for more funding and support for suicide prevention. Since 2010 there has been implemented a ‘Gap Master Plan’ and I want to acknowledge the support that Julia Gillard provided as Prime Minister to support the local government, the Woollahra Council, towards that funding.

It was a series of measures of signs, telephones, obviously of cameras so that the police can keep an eye on what’s going on there and also a very innovative design in defences that are hard to get over, but easier to get back over, if you know what I mean.

So all of this makes a difference and since 2010 the local police tell me there has been a significant increase in the number of successful interventions at The Gap. But still, far, far too many people die there and in many other places around Australia.

Now, we’re working better to understand the factors that have contributed to rising suicide rates and to support communities to respond to their own unique circumstances.

We’re committed to reducing suicide rates through regional trials, research and building the evidence base with flexible models that address regional needs and work in our local communities.

This includes the implementation of 12 regional suicide prevention trial sites in Townsville, the Kimberley and Darwin and other places. Digital innovation trials and ten lead sites to trial different care models. All looking to see what actually works.

We’re also investing a great deal more in mental health and making services more effective, accessible and tailored to local needs.

Since 2016, we’ve invested an additional $367.5 million in mental health and suicide prevention support.

That includes a $194.5 million election package towards building a modern 21st century mental health system and our $173 million in new funding in the 2017‑18 Budget and $58.6 million to expand mental health and suicide prevention services for current and ex-serving ADF members and their families.

So we’re putting existing resources to work. But you know, the most important resource is you, is all of us. You know my very good friend and a good friend of all of yours, I know, Ian Hickie has got a great concept. He talks about the ‘mental wealth of nations’, sort of elaborating from Adam Smith.

The truth is that mental health is enormously costly, in every respect.

It’s costly for individuals who suffer, its costly to their families but it’s especially costly when people take their own lives.

So we all have a vested interest in each others’ mental health. The most important thing we can do is to look out for each other.

Yes, governments and parliaments and health professionals spend money and trial new approaches and use digital technologies more effectively and we’re doing all these things and we’ll no doubt do much more in the future.

But you know, just four letters ‘R U OK?’ can make a difference. Because they represent another four letters, ‘L O V E’ – love. That’s what it’s about; showing that love and care for the people with whom you are with, whether they are your families, your friends or your workmates. Reach out to them, ask are you okay, show you care. You could not just change a life, you could save a life.

Thank you very much.

Part 3 Opposition Leader  Bill Shorten addressing the RUOK Breakfast 13 September

Good morning everybody.

I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, I pay my respect to their elders both past and present.

I’m actually going to spend a moment on what the Prime Minister said and thank him for his words.

It’s a galling thing when you’re Leader of the Opposition that the Prime Minister yells slogans at you one day, and you think oh why did he do that?

But then occasionally he gives a speech like that and I think, you’re not too bad after all.

It really was a good set of words.

Mind you, by Question Time that thought will be erased.

I’d like to thank Mike Kelly and Andrew Wallace filling in for Julian Leeser for bringing all of us here today.

We’ve got the Shadow Minister Julie Collins and we’ve got the Minister Greg Hunt.

Yesterday afternoon when I was preparing my words for this morning, I stopped to think about people I’d known who’d taken their own lives. And you start to construct that list.

I’m sure I’m not unique. I think most Australians find out after the event, someone they liked or loved has taken their own life.

As I got thinking about it, I could think of about seven people I knew. I actually stopped there. Because I knew the longer I thought, I could think of families with their kids and other people.

The thing about these people I thought about, is that they remain forever young.

You can still imagine them. You can remember not everything that you should, but you can remember some of their jokes perhaps, some of their ideas, some of their abilities.

I think about RUOK and I thought what could we have done then, what could I have done then?

And what has been done today to help this be prevented in the future.

I think about each of these people, and I went through the process of writing down their names just to start reconstructing.

Because you don’t always think about the people who have passed, you move on, the events move on.

And I think, was there some sign that they weren’t well? Was there some signal, some marker?

Is there something you could have done differently?

Some of the people I think of were teenagers, highly-talented. They seemed to be very successful at everything they did. But inside they were battling illness and great, great depression.

And when I thought about seven people I could think of I was reminded that seven Australians take their life on average every day, and possibly seven more will today. Every single day.

It is a silent crisis at the heart of our nation.

I’m sure all of you have sat with parents at their table when they’re numb with incomprehension, when they’re shattered by grief.

When they’re trying to write words to say farewell to their child or their adult child, taken too soon.

I still recall a school assembly where the school captain or someone very senior in the school said he died on a train, that’s what we were told. It was only years after that I found out that was the way the school dealt with the fact that he had taken his own life.

And you do think about what you could have done.

I think about veterans who are let down by the nation that they served.

Seven Australians – every day.

And what I wanted to say is that these are preventable deaths – we are not talking about a terminal condition, some dreadful metastasising cancer spread throughout a human body.

These deaths are preventable, there is nothing inevitable about suicide.

And we know that expert assistance can make the difference but it is in short supply.

Our emergency departments work very well. If you turn up with say chest pains, terrible chest pains I reckon nearly all of the time you’ll get the right diagnosis and the care is there.

When I was talking to Professor Pat McGorry who is here today, you know and he worries that you can turn up to an emergency department and you’ve got a very serious case of potential self-harm, or as a suicide risk.

Do we have the resources there to the same proportion as a medical condition, another medical condition? I don’t think we do.

And I know every Member of Parliament here regardless of their political affiliation will have constituents who come to them desperate, red-eyed saying I’ve got a child, an adult child who really needs that sub-acute care. And the search for the beds that aren’t there.

We know that suicide is the scourge of rural and regional communities.

It takes a shocking toll on our people in the bush.

We know the suicide rate is twice as high amongst our First Australians, Pat Dodson has written movingly about those nights when his phone rings with the tragic news that another young person in the Kimberley has taken their life.

We know, as Mike Kelly alluded to, that suicide is more common and more frequently attempted by young LGBTI Australians grappling with their sexuality, fearing rejection.

Completely alienated and unsure of where they fit in.

And we all do have a responsibility to call-out that hateful discrimination and language, particularly in the weeks ahead.

The simple truth is no part of our nation has a wall tall enough to keep the scourge of suicide from that postcode. Suicide is no respecter of ethnicity, of income.

It does not care which god you pray to, or who you love, it affects every Australian and therefore it is within the power of every Australian to do something about it.

We live in a world where it has been easier than ever to see what our friends and our family are up to.

I remember when I was a backpacker 25 years ago, I could be back home before any of the postcards which I had sent to Mum and Dad.

These days you feel like you’re on everybody else’s holiday half the time, as soon as you turn on the computer.

Australians aged between 15 and 24 spend an average of around 18 hours a week online.

And while social media has a tremendous ability to bring us closer together, Instagram,

Facebook and Snapchat also create emotional distance. A carefully-curated view of each other’s lives: exotic holidays, glamorous events, fun nights out, fancy meals.

We have now got a situation where before teenagers will eat the food, they will photograph it.

But the challenge for us is to look beyond the superficial snapshots of endless good times, to go further than simply clicking ‘like’ and scrolling on down the feed.

It’s about digging a bit deeper.

And in conclusion, that’s why we are here.

It’s time to make that call, to send a message, to drop-in for a visit – to really see how someone is going.

I actually think Parliamentarians are well placed to understand RUOK Day.

We’ve all seen our own challenges with mental health, I think previously in this parliament.

In this very large building with thousands of people, it can be hard and isolating experience.

It is important that RUOK day occurs because it is a reminder that we need to distinguish and not let the urgent distract us from the important.

There is always time to

  • Ask
  • Listen
  • Encourage action
  • And check-in

There is always time to start a conversation.

I think about all the people that I have known – and I am not sure I could have done anything then to change something.

But I wish that I knew then what I know now, and was able to ask these people: ‘Are you ok?’

Aboriginal Health Conferences and Events #SaveAdate #Cancer #RUOKDay #NACCHOAgm2017 #OchreDay2017

11 September to 27 October Consultations Open Cancer and Aboriginal people research

13 September : Webinar Reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services

14 September #RUOK DAY

20-23 September : AIDA Conference 2017

29 September : Closing the Prison Gap Focus on the Children Tweed Heads NSW

4- 5 October Aboriginal Male Health Ochre Day Darwin NT

9- 10 October  : Indigenous Affairs and Public Administration Conference : Can’t we do better?

10 October  : CATSINAM Professional Development Conference Gold Coast

New 11-12 October 3rd Annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal Health Conference

18 -20 October  : 35th Annual CRANAplus Conference Broome

20 October : ‘Most influential’ health leaders to appear in key forum at major rural medicine conference

18- 20 October First 1000 Days Summit

26-27 October  :Diabetes and cardiovascular research, stroke and maternal and child health issues.

31 October –2 Nov  :NACCHO AGM Members Meeting Canberra

15 November  One Day NATSIHWA Workshop SA Forum

14- 15 November  : 6th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation.

15 -18 November  :National Conference on Incontinence Scholarship Opportunity close 1 September

27-30 November  :Indigenous Allied Health Australia : IAHA Conference Perth

14 December Shepparton  One Day NATSIHWA Workshop VIC Forum

11-12 April 2018  :6th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium  Canberra call for extracts

If you have a Conference, Workshop Funding opportunity or event and wish to share and promote contact

Colin Cowell NACCHO Media Mobile 0401 331 251

Send to NACCHO Social  Media

mailto:nacchonews@naccho.org.au

REGISTER HERE

Register and Download full 2 day program HERE

 

11 September to 27 October : Consultations Open Cancer and Aboriginal people research

Invitation to comment: National Public Consultation on the Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer
 
Cancer Australia and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services are pleased to announce the opening of the national public consultation period 9am Monday 11 September 2017 to 5pm Friday 27 October 2017 on the Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer (OCP).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak health bodies, organisations, associations and health professionals are encouraged to provide input to the draft OCP, which aims to improve cancer outcomes and experiences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by facilitating consistent, safe, high-quality and evidence-based cancer care based on an optimal pathway of care.

The pathway also intends to provide clinicians and health administrators with an agreed, nation-wide approach to cancer care across the cancer continuum.

Input from stakeholders is extremely valuable and we invite you to provide feedback and comments on the OCP. How can I respond? Please provide feedback by 5pm Friday 27 October 2017 to Cancer Council Victoria by email optimalcare.pathways@cancervic.org.au

Cancer Council Victoria is coordinating the feedback for the OCP national public consultation.

The OCP is available on Cancer Council Victoria’s website as are Reviewer Guidelines to support your response.

Please share this e-alert with your networks and contacts.

We look forward to receiving your input.

 

13 September : Webinar Reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services

Developed in consultation with NACCHO and produced by the Mental Health Professionals’ Network a federally funded initiative

Join our interdisciplinary panel as we explore a collaborative approach to reducing the mental health impact of Indigenous incarceration on people, communities and services.

The webinar format will include a facilitated question and answer session between panel members exploring key issues and impacts of incarceration on individuals, families and communities.

The panel will discuss strategies to enhance cultural awareness and develop responsive services for Indigenous communities affected by incarceration. Strategies to increase self-esteem and enhance emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing of individuals will also be explored.

When: Wednesday 13th September, 2017

Time: 4.30pm – 5.45pm (AEST)

Where: Online – via your computer, tablet or mobile

Cost: Free

Panel:

  • Dr Louis Peachey (Rural Generalist QLD)
  • Dr Marshall Watson (Psychiatrist based in SA)
  • Dr Jeffrey Nelson (Clinical Psychologist based in QLD)
  • Julie Tongs (OAM) (CEO Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service – Narrabundah ACT)

Facilitator:

  • Dr Mary Emeleus (General Practitioner and Psychotherapist based in QLD)

Read more about our panel.

Learning Outcomes:

Through an exploration of incarceration, the webinar will provide participants with the opportunity to:

  • Describe key issues and impacts of incarceration on individuals, families and communities
  • Develop strategies to enhance culturally aware and responsive services for Indigenous people and communities affected by incarceration
  • Identify strategies to increase self-esteem and enhance emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing

Before the webinar:

Register HERE

14 September RUOK DAY

R U OK?Day is our national day of action dedicated to reminding everyone that we’ve all got what it takes to ask, “are you ok?” and support those struggling with life .
Taking part can be as simple as learning R U OK?’s four steps so you can have a conversation that could change a life.
 The day is about inspiring people to start these conversations every day of the year.  Help get your school, workplace and community asking “are you ok?” with the resources below and our Every Day Resources.
The truth is, some conversations just become too big for family and friends. If you’re worried about someone and feel urgent professional support is needed, contact your local doctor or the agencies below.
Like you, R U OK? is not equipped to offer crisis intervention or expert counselling and our website is no substitute for the professional care available from the following organisations:

20-23 September AIDA Conference 2017

The AIDA Conference in 2017 will celebrate 20 years since the inception of AIDA. Through the theme Family. Unity. Success. 20 years strong we will reflect on the successes that have been achieved over the last 20 years by being a family and being united. We will also look to the future for AIDA and consider how being a united family will help us achieve all the work that still needs to be done in growing our Indigenous medical students, doctors, medical academics and specialists and achieving better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This conference will be an opportunity to bring together our members, guests, speakers and partners from across the sector to share in the reflection on the past and considerations for the future. The conference will also provide a platform to share our individual stories, experiences and achievements in a culturally safe environment.

Conference website

29 Sept : Closing the Prison Gap Focus on the Children Tweed Heads NSW

  • Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson and Margaret Hayes will “Focus on the Children”, describing their work with young people excluded from mainstream schools due to their behaviour.
  • Leanne Phillips and Cathy Stillwell will talk about “Healing the Womyn Healing the Child”
  • Jyi Lawnton and Casey Bird will describe “Indigenous Policy and the Scientific Gaze”
  • Chris Lee and Associate Professor Helen Farley discuss “Making the Connection”, the use of technology to address the issues of literacy and numeracy in juvenile justice settings
  • Dr Anthea Krieg will talk about her work in Ceduna, South Australia, coordinating services to prevent incarceration of First Nations children.

More info bookings Website

30 Sept : The 2017 Human Rights Photography competition 

The 2017 Human Rights Photography competition is now open to children and adults around the country, with a $600 camera prize up for grabs for the most outstanding image!

For almost a decade, the Australian Human Rights Commission has been holding photo competitions every couple of years. Our last competition attracted a record 450 entries.

Photography is a powerful medium with a long history in the promotion and advancement of human rights around the world. Photos foster empathy for the suffering and experience of others, community engagement and positive social change. No one can forget the impact of photos such as Nick Ut’s famous photo The Terror of War of child Kim Phuc after a napalm attack during the Vietnam War.

Our focus for this year’s competition will be the experiences of people at home. The theme for the 2017 competition is Home, inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home…

The shortlisted and winning photos to be displayed at the 2017 Human Rights Awards on 8 December in Sydney.

So, what are you waiting for?

About the competition

  • Enter at https://photocompetition.humanrights.gov.au/
  • There will be two categories for entries: Under 18 and 18 & over.
  • Overall winners will receive their prizes at the 2017 Human Rights Awards on December 8 in Sydney. A selection of photos from the Competition will also be on display.
  • Main prizes worth $600.
  • The competition will close on 30 September 2017.

If you have a query about the competition, please email photocomp@humanrights.gov.au

Photo Credit: Nimboi’s Bat by Sean Spencer, from the 2011 competition.

4- 5 October Aboriginal Male Health Ochre Day Darwin NT  

2017 Ochre Day Registration

Where: Darwin
When: 4th & 5th October 2017

This year NACCHO is pleased to announce the annual NACCHO Ochre Day will be held in Darwin during October 2017.

Beginning in 2013, Ochre Day is an important NACCHO Aboriginal male health initiative. Aboriginal males have arguably the worst health outcomes of any population group in Australia.

NACCHO has long recognised the importance of addressing Aboriginal male health as part of Close the Gap by 2030.

All information provided in registering for the NACCHO Ochre Day remains entirely confidential and will only be used to assist with planning i.e. catering etc.

  • There is no registration cost to attend the NACCHO Ochre Day (Day One or Two)
  • All Delegates will be provided breakfast & lunch on Day One and morning & afternoon tea as well as lunch on Day Two.
  • All Delegates are responsible for paying for and organising your own travel and accommodation.

For further information please contact Kyrn Stevens:
Phone: 08 8942 5400
Email: naccho.ochre@ddhs.org.au

Each Delegate is required to complete a separate applicatiom

REGISTER HERE 

9- 10 October Indigenous Affairs and Public Administration Conference : Can’t we do better?

This year marks 50 years since the 1967 referendum resulted in the Commonwealth gaining national responsibilities for the administration of Indigenous affairs. This is a shared responsibility with state and territory administrations.

Website

ANZSOG and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet are providing travel support and waiving conference fees for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders and public servants attending the conference from remote locations.

To enquire about your eligibility, please contact conference2017@anzsog.edu.au

In partnership, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), the University of Sydney, and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) are holding an international conference that questions the impact of the past 50 years of public administration and raise issues for the next 50 years in this important nation building area.

DPMC is seeking to build and foster a public canon of knowledge to open the history of Indigenous policy and administrative practice to greater scrutiny and discussion.

The Indigenous Affairs and Public Administration Conference will be attended by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, other Indigenous peoples, public servants from state and federal governments, and the academic community.

 The conference will feature a range of guest presenters, including Australia’s Chris Sarra, Andrea Mason and Martin Nakata, New Zealand’s Arapata Hakiwai and Geraint Martin, as well as other international speakers.

The deliberations and discussions of the conference will feed into a final report that will be used to guide Federal government policy formation at a series of roundtables in late 2017 and early 2018.

REGISTER

2017 Indigenous Affairs and Public Administration Conference

October 9-10
The Refectory, University of Sydney

October 9, 6:00pm – 9:30pm: Pre-conference dinner
October 10, 8:30am – 5:00pm: Conference

Cost:

Early bird tickets (until September 1): $150
Regular tickets: $250
Full time PhD student concession tickets: $25

Register Here

10 October CATSINAM Professional Development Conference Gold Coast

catsinam

Contact info for CATSINAM

11-12 October 3rd Annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal Health Conference

3rd Annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal Health Conference

The Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal Health conference is an opportunity for sharing information and connecting people that are committed to reforming the practice and research of Aboriginal health and celebrates Aboriginal knowledge systems and strength based approaches to improving the health outcomes of Aboriginal communities.

The conference will include evidence based approaches, Aboriginal methods and models of practice, Aboriginal perspectives and contribution to health or community led solutions, underpinned by cultural theories to Aboriginal health and wellbeing.

In 2016 the Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal Health conference attracted over 130 delegates from across the community and state.

Please register online by midday Thursday 5th October, 2017.

18 -20 October 35th Annual CRANAplus Conference Broome

We are pleased to announce the 35th Annual CRANAplus Conference will be held at Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa in Broome, Western Australia, from 18 to 20 October 2017.

THE FUTURE OF REMOTE HEALTH AND THE INFLUENCE OF TECHNOLOGY

Since the organisation’s inception in 1982 this event has served to create an opportunity for likeminded remote and isolated health individuals who can network, connect and share.

It serves as both a professional and social resource for the Remote and Isolated Health Workforce of Australia.

We aim to offer an environment that will foster new ideas, promote collegiate relationships, provide opportunities for professional development and celebrate remote health practice.

Conference Website

18- 20 October First 1000 Days Summit

 

The First 1000 Days Australia Summit is a three-day event that will bring together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, researchers, community members, front- line workers and policy makers involved in areas relevant to the work of First 1000 Days Australia. Lectures, panel discussions and workshops will address topics such as caring and parenting, infant and child development, family strengthening, implementation and translation, as well as a number of other areas.

The theme for the Summit is ‘Celebrating our leadership, strengthening our families’. We invite interested presenters to submit abstracts for oral presentations, workshops and posters that align with the aims, principles and research areas of First 1000 Days Australia, and of First 1,000 Days international.

20 October : ‘Most influential’ health leaders to appear in key forum at major rural medicine conference 


‘Most influential’ health leaders to appear in key forum at major rural medicine conference

RMA Presidents’ Breakfast
Friday 20 October 2017
Pullman Albert Park, Melbourne


www.ruralmedicineaustralia.com.au

Australia’s most influential health leaders will discuss critical health policy issues in a key Presidents’ Breakfast forum at the Rural Medicine Australia 2017 conference, to be held in Melbourne in October.Dr Ewen McPhee, President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), will host the forum and will be joined on the panel by Associate Professor Ruth Stewart, President of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM); Dr Bastian Seidel, President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP); and Dr Tony Bartone, Vice President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

26-27 October Diabetes and cardiovascular research, stroke and maternal and child health issues.

‘Translation at the Centre’ An educational symposium

Alice Springs Convention Centre, Alice Springs

This year the Symposium will look at research translation as well as the latest on diabetes and cardiovascular research, stroke and maternal and child health issues.  The event will be run over a day and a half.
The Educational Symposium will feature a combination of relevant plenary presentations from renowned scientists and clinicians plus practical workshops.

Registration is free but essential.

Please contact the symposium coordinator on 1300 728 900 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm) or via email at events@baker.edu.au  

31 October2 NovNACCHO AGM Members Meeting Canberra

We welcome you to attend the 2017 NACCHO Annual Members’ Conference.

On the new NACCHO Conference Website  you find links to

1.Registrations now open

2. Booking Your Accommodation

3. Book Your Flights

4. Expressions of Interest Speakers, case studies and table top presentations Close

5. Social Program

6.Conferences Partnership Sponsorship Opportunities

7.NACCHO Conference HELP Contacts

The NACCHO Members’ Conference and AGM provides a forum for the Aboriginal community controlled health services workforce, bureaucrats, educators, suppliers and consumers to:

  • Present on innovative local economic development solutions to issues that can be applied to address similar issues nationally and across disciplines
  • Have input and influence from the ‘grassroots’ into national and state health policy and service delivery
  • Demonstrate leadership in workforce and service delivery innovation
  • Promote continuing education and professional development activities essential to the Aboriginal community controlled health services in urban, rural and remote Australia
  • Promote Aboriginal health research by professionals who practice in these areas and the presentation of research findings
  • Develop supportive networks
  • Promote good health and well-being through the delivery of health services to and by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people throughout Australia.

Where :Hyatt Hotel Canberra

Dates :Members’ Conference: 31 October – 1 November 2017
Annual General Meeting: 2 November 2017

CLICK HERE

15 November  One Day NATSIHWA Workshop SA Forum

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers Association (NATSIHWA) 

Join the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers Association (NATSIHWA) for a one day CPD networking workshop focussed on current workforce development opportunities.

Upskill and strengthen your skill level in a specialised area and find out what is happening through program development, education and funding opportunities.

Hear from organisations such as: PHN Primary Heath Network, CranaPlus, Autism QLD, Rheumatic Heart, PEPA Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach, Diabetes Australia, IBA Indigenous Business Australia, HESTA Superannuation, 1800 RESPECT, Hearing Australia and more to be annuonced in the coming months (tailored for your specific region).

Register HERE

14-15 November : 6th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, are proud to be co-hosting the 6th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation.

This partnership indicates an alignment of priorities and a strong commitment from our two institutions to deliver a measurable, positive impact on the health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Peoples.

Under the theme “The Butterfly Effect: Translating Knowledge into Action for Positive Change”, the Symposium will be an opportunity to bring relevant expertise to the business of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research translation and put forward Indigenous perspectives that inform the most effective policies and programs. It will also be a forum to share knowledge of what successful research looks like at community level and what the key elements of success are.

We look forward to the participation of delegates with community, research and policy expertise, including outstanding keynote speakers Dr Carrie Bourassa (Canada) and Sir Mason Durie (New Zealand). We are confident that through our joint commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, the Symposium will make a significant contribution to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, families and individuals. This commitment also signals the importance of working together as equal partners, Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

More info HERE

15 -18 November :National Conference on Incontinence Scholarship Opportunity close 1 September

The Continence Foundation of Australia is offering 10 scholarships to support health professionals to attend the 26th National Conference on Incontinence. The conference will be held in Sydney on 15-18 November 2017.  The conference program and registration brochure can be found here.
This scholarship program is open to registered nurses and physiotherapists with an interest in continence care working in rural and remote areas of Australia. The scholarship includes full conference registration, including clinical workshops and social events, flights and accommodation. The top applicant also has the opportunity to participate in a placement at a Sydney continence clinic. Previous unsuccessful applicants are encouraged to apply.
Applications close Friday 1 September.
Applications are being taken online. Click here to find out more and to apply.  

27-30 November Indigenous Allied Health Australia : IAHA Conference Perth

iaha

Abstracts for the IAHA 2017 National Conference are now open!

We are calling for abstracts for concurrent oral presentations and workshops under the following streams:
– Care
– Cultures
– Connection

For abstract more information visit the IAHA Conference website at: https://iahaconference.com.au/call-for-abstracts/

14 December Shepparton  One Day NATSIHWA Workshop VIC Forum

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers Association (NATSIHWA) 

Join the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers Association (NATSIHWA) for a one day CPD networking workshop focussed on current workforce development opportunities.

Upskill and strengthen your skill level in a specialised area and find out what is happening through program development, education and funding opportunities.

Hear from organisations such as: PHN Primary Heath Network, CranaPlus, Autism QLD, Rheumatic Heart, PEPA Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach, Diabetes Australia, IBA Indigenous Business Australia, HESTA Superannuation, 1800 RESPECT, Hearing Australia and more to be annuonced in the coming months (tailored for your specific region).

Register HERE

11-12 April 2018 6th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium  Canberra call for extracts

About the Symposium

Drawing upon a tradition which commenced with the first rural and remote health scientific conference ‘Infront Outback’ held in Toowoomba in 1992, the 6th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium will be held in Canberra, 11-12 April 2018.

The Symposium will celebrate 20 years since the establishment of the first university department of rural health in 1997 and will highlight the research and knowledge that followed this innovation.

Outback Infront will celebrate the leadership that has emerged from the rural and remote health research community, while at the same time, support early career academics and the next generation of rural health researchers.

The Symposium will focus on rural and remote health research that informs strategic health policy and health service challenges in rural and remote Australia.

The Symposium will provide an opportunity to share and develop research that seeks to understand and deliver innovative change through building evidence that has the potential to transform health outcomes and service delivery.

Who should attend

The Symposium program will be designed to engage academics, policy makers, expert researchers in rural and remote health and clinician-researchers, as well as emerging and early career researchers.

It will also be relevant to policy makers, university departments of rural health, rural clinical schools, research collaborations and bodies, rural workforce organisations and health services delivery networks and providers.

Program

As well as key presentations from respected researchers in rural and remote health the Symposium will also feature Rogano presentations (scholarly debate on a current research project that answer “how to” questions and encourage scholarly thinking and debate) and a return of the popular Lightning Talk presentations to support early career academics and the next generation of rural health researchers.

Abstracts are now being sought for general presentations, Lightning talks and Rogano presentations

NACCHO Aboriginal #RUOKDay Mental Health : A conversation could save a life .

 ruok

 ” This is something we all can do – please use RUOK ? Day to reconnect with mates and family whether it’s by email, a text, on the phone or face to face.’

‘Sometimes people, particularly men, are too shy or too shame to ask for help. That’s when it’s important to check in to see the people we care about are going and let them know you are there for them.”

Apunipima Indigenous Basketball All Star Aaron Bin Tahal is asking people to check in with their friends and family this RUOK? Day (8 September).

joe-williams

#TheEnemyWithin Joe Williams Suicide Prevention

Joe is a proud Wiradjuri, 1st Nations Aboriginal man born in Cowra, Apart from being involved with professional sport for over 15 years, Joe spends his time working to inspire youth through motivational speaking workshops. He has worked with disengaged youth in primary and secondary schools, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres and gaols.

WEBSITE

“Every suicide is an absolute tragedy and it breaks my heart that so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities live with this terrible pain. A simple question to ask someone is if they are feeling okay. This is often the first step in helping a person who might be struggling.”

Minister Nigel Scullion press release see in full below

A frustration I hear when talking to people is they don’t know what to do if the person answers, ‘No, I’m not OK’,”

This year the R U OK? organisation is laudably focusing more on the skills you need to connect and stay connected with someone you suspect is struggling.

The website http://www.ruok.org.au has hints about how to talk to someone who says “No, I am not OK”.

R U OK? general manager Brendan Maher.

What will you do when you ask R U OK? and the answer is “no”?

Be prepared, by becoming an “accidental counsellor”.

You can save a life – how , see article 2 below

Aaron, a guard with Queensland Basketball League champions the Cairns Marlins, has put up his hand to be an RUOK? Ambassador in an effort to support people to reach in, and reach out when they need to.

‘Staying connected and having meaningful conversations is something we can all do,’ said RUOK? Campaign Director Rebecca Lewis.

‘You don’t need to be an expert – just a great mate and a good listener. So, if you notice someone who might be struggling – start a conversation.’

RUOK? – a national suicide prevention campaign – is particularly relevant to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community: young Indigenous men aged 25-29 have the highest suicide rate in the world.

Overall Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males are nearly twice as likely to take their own lives than non – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (30.5 to 17.0 per 100,000 respectively) while Aboriginal and Torres Strait women are more than twice as likely to do so than their non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander counterparts (12.1 to 5.8 per 100,000 respectively).*

Aaron, a Torres Strait Islander, said he hopes his role as an Ambassador will inspire other young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to check in with friends and family.

‘This is something we all can do – please use RUOK? Day to reconnect with mates and family whether it’s by email, a text, on the phone or face to face.’

‘Sometimes people, particularly men, are too shy or too shame to ask for help. That’s when it’s important to check in to see the people we care about are going and let them know you are there for them.’

‘It’s also important to remember that you don’t need to have all the answers – if someone is having a hard time, just listen and let them know you are there. It’s OK to say, ‘I’m not sure how to help but I’m here for you.’ Being there, even if you don’t have all the answers, helps the person in trouble feel less alone and makes a huge difference to the way they see their situation.’

‘I know how hard it is to talk but having a yarn really does help. Check in with each other and remember you are not alone.’

Apunipima Social and Emotional Wellbeing Manager Bernard David said checking in could make all the difference.

‘Even if you feel asking RUOK? is a crazy question, ask it anyway. When we show people we are interested in their lives, they feel loved and needed, and that makes a difference. For those who are struggling, have a think about five people you can reach out to… and don’t forget there are a lot of help lines as well. Please ask for help if you need it.’

If you are affected by this story please contact:

Lifeline 13 11 14  www.lifeline.org.au

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelp.com.au

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78 http://www.kidshelp.com.au

Video of Aaron, Bernard David and Men’s Health Worker Neil Mayo available upon request or from our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9BIEMjnzOsZKoUgaT0qV2Q

ruok-3

You can save a life – here’s how

What will you do when you ask R U OK? and the answer is “no”? Be prepared, by becoming an “accidental counsellor”.

Published here Alan Stokes

On today hundreds of thousands of Australians will connect with a loved one, friend, colleague or even a long-lost mate by asking a simple question: R U OK?

For eight years this great initiative has helped many people struggling with life’s problems or living with mental health issues.

Asking about suicide is one of the most difficult but important skills anyone can learn.

Everyone should ask R U OK? – or even better, ask something more, all year round, whenever your gut instinct tells you someone needs help.

But what if you ask R U OK? and the person answers, “Yeah, I’m OK”?

They might be, but they might not be, either. They might simply be too embarrassed or overwhelmed to open up.

That doubt – is the person really OK? – is one missing piece of the R U OK? initiative.

One in five Australians lives with a mental illness each year. Sane Australia says about one in seven people with serious mental illness will die by suicide – that’s 15 times the suicide rate in the general population.

Many other Australians suicide when in crisis over domestic violence, relationship problems, grief, alcohol/drug abuse, gambling or financial stress.

More than 2800 people die by suicide in Australia each year. That is about eight on R U OK?Day and a further eight on every single day this and every year.

We need to do more to save lives – and we can.

R U OK? is only the start of the conversation that can save many of those people and their families by giving them help and reasons to live.

“A frustration I hear when talking to people is they don’t know what to do if the person answers, ‘No, I’m not OK’,” says R U OK? general manager Brendan Maher.

This year the R U OK? organisation is laudably focusing more on the skills you need to connect and stay connected with someone you suspect is struggling. The website http://www.ruok.org.au has hints about how to talk to someone who says “No, I am not OK”.

But it takes real skill to identify and talk to someone who is struggling so much that he or she is at significant risk of suicide.

Enter Lifeline.

A disclosure here: I volunteer as a Lifeline telephone crisis supporter. Like thousands of colleagues across the nation, I answer calls from people who ring Lifeline on 13 11 14 when they are in crisis. Sometimes it’s about mental health but most critically it’s when suicide is possible.

Lifeline crisis supporters undertake many hours of training. They take hundreds of calls. They constantly upgrade their skills.

When someone is in crisis, calling Lifeline or similar crisis lines manned by trained supporters provides a strong opportunity to keep the person safe until the immediate crisis is relieved and longer term support found.

But when you ask a friend or workmate R U OK? and get the answer “No”, the person may be in dire need then and there.

What skills do you have to save that person?

Maher says everyone has to acknowledge that many conversations “are going to be too difficult to navigate in a big way. R U OK? does not solve people’s problems. We are encouraging action and many people who ask refer their friends to Lifeline or another service provider.”

That’s fine, laudable and very worthwhile – as far as it goes.

But every Australian is capable of learning simply, quickly and cheaply the key skills that will equip them to prevent suicide, beyond asking R U OK?

You need to know how and when to ask one of life’s most difficult yet important questions: “Are you thinking about suicide now?”

And if the answer is yes to suicide, you need to know how to ask whether the person has an idea about where and how they might do it.

And you need to know how to help disable their plan so further help can be found.

Research shows that talking and asking about suicide will not put the thought into someone’s head. It will, in the vast majority of cases, make the person in crisis recognise that you care, there is hope and there is help.

Some Lifeline centres run short courses to teach those skills to you, no matter your background or life experience. The courses are titled “Accidental Counsellor”. Here’s one: lifelinenb.org.au/news/accidental-counsellor-training

Lifeline runs the courses for companies, clubs, groups and schools, as well as individuals.

If “accidental counsellors” spread the word and their skills through every community in Australia, hundreds of suicides will be prevented each year.

To mark this R U OK?Day and World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday, please connect with a loved one.

But also take the next step. Find the missing piece in suicide prevention. Become an accidental counsellor.

Such is life …

astokes@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Media Release
Minister for Indigenous Affairs
Senator the Hon. Nigel Scullion

 

Today is R U OK? Day – a day to reach out to people you know, from family, to friends and work colleagues, to ask if they are okay.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, who is a Conversation Hero with the R U OK? organisation, said that having a simple conversation with someone could help to prevent a small problem from becoming a bigger one.

Minister Scullion said suicide rates were twice as high for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as for non-Indigenous Australians, with the highest rates occurring before the age of 40.

“Every suicide is an absolute tragedy and it breaks my heart that so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities live with this terrible pain,” Minister Scullion said.

“A simple question to ask someone is if they are feeling okay. This is often the first step in helping a person who might be struggling.”

Today is also a reminder of why the Coalition Government made an election commitment to roll out Indigenous Mental Health First Aid training to remote communities.

“The Indigenous Mental Health First Aid training that we are rolling out will help communities identify the early warning signs of mental health issues in their friends and families and equip people with the knowledge and training about how best to help,” Minister Scullion said.

R U OK? is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to inspiring more Australians to ask family and friends who might be struggling if they are okay. Tips on how to start a conversation are available at: ruok.org.au