NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #NSPC17 #SuicidePrevention : Full Transcript June Oscar Conference Speech

 

” Addressing the social disadvantage plaguing our communities is critical to solving many of the challenges facing our peoples, including suicide. It is critical to realizing the human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Our nation must face up to the devastation that has been wrought upon our peoples and which overwhelms us today.

I have said before, that I will work to make sure that human rights are more than just words on a page for our people, but a part of our lived reality. I know that we have much work to do in order to be closer to that day.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar. SEE FULL speech part 2

The worst response to suicide within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is to ignore social disadvantage and instead attribute the loss of life to individual failure or weakness.

“Addressing the social disadvantage plaguing our communities is critical to solving many of the challenges facing our peoples, including suicide.

“Our nation must face up to the devastation that has been wrought upon our peoples and which overwhelms us today,” according to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar.

“The colonisation of our country has come at a great cost for our peoples. We see it everyday in the health and wellbeing of our peoples, in the lack of jobs and in the trauma and disadvantage that surrounds us.

“We see the cost in the eyes of our children who have come to expect this life of pain, of interaction with the care and justice systems, drugs, alcohol and little hope that things will change.

“We must work to challenge the view that somehow our position in society is simply because of our failure or weakness as individuals.

“It is essential that we find ways to ensure that suicide is the rarest of tragedies in our communities. At a time when our peoples are faced by so many challenges, when our life expectancy is already significantly shorter than the non-Indigenous population, we cannot afford to have it shortened even further by suicide.”

Addressing the National Suicide Prevention Conference on 27 July 2017, Commissioner Oscar said the words of colleague Richard Weston are helpful in this context.

“Richard said earlier this year that it’s not about trying to have a debate in this country about blame or guilt for non-Aboriginal people, it’s really just trying to understand how we got to where we are.

“If we understand how we got to where we are, we can create solutions that can change the situation.”

Commissioner Oscar said suicide prevention strategies should acknowledge and build on relationships, culture, resilience and respect.

“These are key to our existence as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Our culture is both an ancient and continuing source of resilience. And it is a necessary part of the solutions that we are forging in our communities right across this country.

“Research tells us that strong cultural connections are a necessary ingredient for good health and wellbeing. Of course we already know this but we need to build the evidence base around what works.

“Our culture is the inspiration behind the therapeutic economies giving hope to our women in the Kimberley.

“Similar initiatives exist across the country and we are finding new and innovative ways to broach this difficult subject. I want to acknowledge the work of Walpiri elders for trying to find a way to reach and reconnect with their young people through the development of the Kurdiji App. I look forward to seeing what other creative solutions our people come up with to tackle this important issue. This is the cultural medicine that our people need.

“We also know that bringing about change means moving away from discussions that are based in the ‘deficit’ and channelling our efforts into the strengths-based programs and services such as those that I have already mentioned.

“The language of strength, not deficit is what will keep our cultures and our communities alive.

“We need to shift how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are able to participate in Australian society.

“We need structures, schools, safe spaces where we see ourselves reflected back to us, where we are respected, where we have the same opportunities as others, but also where our voices are heard. I don’t mean having a separate society for our peoples but one where we clearly see a place for ourselves and our children in what exists around us. This is what cultural security looks like.”

Part 2 : Conference Strengthens Indigenous Suicide Prevention : Ken Wyatt

Leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people involved in tackling suicide have received Australian Government scholarships to enable them to attend this week’s National Suicide Prevention Conference.

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, said their participation would provide important perspectives and contribute to the knowledge shared at the event, to be hosted in Brisbane by Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) from 26-29 July.

“Sharing ideas, experiences and bringing together people involved in suicide prevention and those with lived experience is crucial to finding the best ways forward,” Minister Wyatt said.

“The Turnbull Government is pleased to sponsor both the conference and the indigenous participants.

“We are committed to suicide prevention around Australia but we need a special focus on indigenous suicide, to help reduce the unnecessary loss of life that contributes to the difference in indigenous and non-indigenous life expectancy.”

Approximately 400 people, including 11 scholarship recipients, are expected at the conference, which has the theme “Relationships, resilience and respect: Responding to vulnerability in life”.

The conference aims to increase the profile of indigenous suicide prevention, with a focus on learning from programs featured in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project.

“The conference will complement the Turnbull Government’s $34 million commitment to 12 national suicide prevention trials, which will gather evidence on better suicide prevention in regional areas of Australia, particularly in high-risk populations” Minister Wyatt said.

Specific areas of focus for the trials include Indigenous communities in the Kimberley and Darwin regions and former Defence Force members in Townsville.

 
Part 3 : Cultural strength is key to suicide prevention : Full Speech

[Introduction in Bunuba]

Yaningi warangira ngindaji yuwa muwayi ingirranggu, Jagara and Turrbal yani u.   Balangarri wadjirragali jarra ningi – gamali ngindaji yau muwayi nyirrami ngarri thangani. Yaningi miya ngindaji Muwayi ingga winyira ngarragi thangani.  Yathawarra, wilalawarra jalangurru ngarri guda.

I stand here today on the lands of the Jagara and Turrbal People. There are many of us that have come from afar, we come speaking different languages, and we are strangers to these lands. The ear of this land is hearing our different languages and we reassure that we gather and talk together with good feeling.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we meet, the Jagara and Turrbal peoples.

I am a proud Bunuba woman from Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia, and it gives me great pleasure to be here with you all to discuss this critical issue that impacts far too many Australians, and far too many of our peoples.

I am all too familiar with the devastation that suicide wreaks on our communities. And it is a sad fact that, like many of you, I speak with firsthand experience of its terrible impacts on my own community.

It is devastating that the Kimberley is going through its second inquest in as many years on this issue. I gave evidence in 2007 and I sincerely hope that this current process can lead to substantive changes that are so desperately needed. But I know that this is an issue that affects so many of our peoples across this nation, not just in my homelands.

I address you today as the first Aboriginal woman appointed to the role of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission in 30 years. I look forward to bringing my experiences from living in community to this role and to elevating the voices of our people, throughout my term to address the various challenges facing our communities.

I am proud to follow in the footsteps of my predecessors such as Mick Gooda and Tom Calma who have both been strong advocates on this issue and many others affecting our peoples for many years.

People like Tom Calma and my fellow Western Australian, Professor Pat Dudgeon, have been fighting long and hard to make Governments sit up and take action on this national tragedy – particularly how it effects Australia’s First Peoples.

I will reference their work in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project –in my remarks today.

I am grateful for their leadership and point to their work to tackle the underlying issues of suicide for our people. But I am also grateful for the work of everyone in this room for what you are doing everyday to improve the lives of our people. We have all been touched by suicide in some way or another and together, I know that we have the best chance of bringing hope and change to our communities.

But we know that we know that this is not an issue that we can tackle alone, that the causes are complex and demand responses that address the quality of life of our peoples.

Over the next 30 minutes or so, I want to discuss the historical and societal conditions that lead to suicide and self-harm in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. And then, drawing on my own experience in my community in Western Australia, look at the things we know can and must be done to reverse those conditions.

Rights based approach

It is appropriate to highlight the need for a ‘Rights’ based approach in discussing suicide in Australia.

We need to be clear about how a Rights-based framework is critical to understanding how to tackle the causes of suicide.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the bedrock of Rights internationally for the last 70 years says that: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being…(1)

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples also speaks to the rights of Indigenous peoples, like all other peoples to enjoy the same rights to life, liberty and security. It highlights the particular need for the rights of Indigenous elders, women, children and people with disability to be protected.(2)

These human rights frameworks are a critical starting point for all peoples. But for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, we know that the reality of our existence falls far, far short of these standards. We know that particularly in the remoter parts of the country that our peoples are living on top of each other and sometimes without the benefit of running water. We know the reality of some town camps where, cut off from basic services our people sleep outside, go hungry and struggle to keep warm.

I saw similar conditions during my drive from my home in Fitzroy Crossing to take up my new role the city of Sydney. I travelled through many places across the country and saw our old people living in tin shacks far from essential services. These conditions are a breeding ground for suicide, self-harm and ill health to prosper.

This reality jars against the image of Australia as a prosperous nation. Our country ranks as one of the richest OECD countries on earth and yet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples do not sit at this table of wealth.

We know that our nation’s prosperity and our people’s place amongst the most socially and economically disadvantaged are no coincidence. These events are inextricably linked.

The colonization of our country has come at a great cost for our peoples. We see it everyday in the health and wellbeing of our peoples, in the lack of jobs and in the trauma and disadvantage that surrounds us.

We see the cost in the eyes of our children who have come to expect this life of pain, of interaction with the care and justice systems, drugs, alcohol and little hope that things will change.  The normalization of this despair is killing our people.  We must all work harder to change the narrative of low expectations, that is set upon us by others and which we inherit, but we must also demand more from government.

Our very survival in this country, is testament to our strength as a peoples and to our ability to adapt to our conditions. It is evidence of the strength of our culture which we know must be the bedrock of any solutions to many of the challenges that we face.

We know that suicide speaks to our experience as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as a peoples who are still grappling with our existence in a world that is very different from that of our ancestors.

We must work to challenge the view that somehow our position in society is simply because of our failure or weakness as individuals. We know that much of our experience as First Peoples is a product of the past.

Addressing the social disadvantage plaguing our communities is critical to solving many of the challenges facing our peoples, including suicide. It is critical to realizing the human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Our nation must face up to the devastation that has been wrought upon our peoples and which overwhelms us today.

I have said before, that I will work to make sure that human rights are more than just words on a page for our people, but a part of our lived reality. I know that we have much work to do in order to be closer to that day.

It would be easy to focus solely on the heartbreak that is suicide in our communities. We must give place to mourning and acknowledgement of those we have lost.

But it is essential that we find ways to ensure that suicide is the rarest of tragedies in our communities. At a time when our peoples are faced by so many challenges, when our life expectancy is already significantly shorter than the non-Indigenous population, we cannot afford to have it shortened even further by suicide.

The power of culture

The power of our culture in healing and the necessity of community designed and led solutions are key antidotes for change.

I am encouraged by the theme of this conference – with the focus on Relationships, Resilience and Respect.

These are key to our existence as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Our culture is both an ancient and continuing source of resilience. And it is a necessary part of the solutions that we are forging in our communities right across this country.

We know the healing power and protective role that culture plays in our communities. Our culture kept us safe and healthy long before the British arrived on our shores and long before we even had words to describe the devastation of suicide. It has been a reservoir of strength that has sustained us throughout time.

Research tells us that strong cultural connections is a necessary ingredient for good health and wellbeing. Of course we already know this but we need to build the evidence base around what works.

Our culture is the inspiration behind the therapeutic economies giving hope to our women in the Kimberley – who are creating new lives for themselves away from violence and drug dependence through making wearable art.

Similar initiatives exist across the country and we are finding new and innovative ways to broach this difficult subject. I want to acknowledge the work of Walpiri elders for trying to find a way to reach and reconnect with their young people through the development of the Kurdiji App. I look forward to seeing what other creative solutions our people come up with to tackle this important issue. This is the cultural medicine that our people need.

We know that culture is a critical ingredient of any approach for addressing suicide in our communities and is a lifeline to all of us but especially our most vulnerable.

We also know that bringing about change means moving away from discussions that are based in the ‘deficit’ and channelling our efforts into the strengths-based programs and services such as those that I have already mentioned.

The language of strength, not deficit is what will keep our cultures and our communities alive.

I know that there will be plenty of facts provided at this conference about the size and nature of suicide, so I will just quickly run through a few details regarding suicide in our communities.

In my home state of Western Australia, suicide rates for Aboriginal people in remote areas of the state are some of the worst in the world. It is well documented that self-harm rates are at least 10 times higher than non-Indigenous people.(3)

Across the country, suicide accounts for up to 30 per cent of the premature deaths of our young people under the ages of 18 years.(4)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people between the age of 15 and 24 years are over five times more likely to die of suicide than their non-Indigenous peers.(5)

Trauma

It is still not well understood enough in the wider Australian community, why suicide and self-harm are so prolific among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. But for us we know this phenomenon is intimately linked to trauma.

To borrow the term from Professor Colin Tatz, I think non-Indigenous people can sometimes suffer ‘wilful amnesia’ about the history of the First Peoples of this country and this means we are all left poorer for it.

The impact of 200 plus years of colonisation, government policies resulting in dispossession, stolen generations and brutal assimilation have caused a level of trauma that passes from one generation to the next.

Our children and grandchildren continue to suffer the terrible impact of the sufferings of their parents, grandparents and elders.

The words of Richard Weston, are helpful in this context, he said earlier this year that: it’s not about trying to have a debate in this country about blame or guilt for non-Aboriginal people, it’s really just trying to understand how we got to where we are.

So if we understand how we got to where we are, we can create solutions that can change the situation.(6)

A cycle of despair and the toll of intergenerational trauma are the conditions too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live with.

We know that a society that boldly acknowledges the wrongs of the past, and is determined to address those wrongs in the present will succeed in creating a stronger and safer place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to prosper.

20 years ago, the Bringing them Home report told Australians and the world the truth of the Stolen Generations. It also told us something that we know all too well which is that – “trauma compounds trauma”.

That Report further stated that: Trauma experienced in childhood becomes embedded in the personality and physical development of the child. Its effects, while diverse, may properly be described as ‘chronic’. These children are more likely to ‘choose’ trauma-prone living situations in adulthood and are particularly vulnerable to the ill-effects of later stressors.

The cycle must be broken in order to stem the flow of suicide in our families and communities. We need to ensure that the conditions are right for healing.  We know that the best way to achieve this is by addressing the social disadvantage I spoke of earlier, but also supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to create strong communities as the basis for healing.

The best support structures begin with mentally and spiritually strong families, clans and communities.

Sadly, we know that even the best, most connected, well serviced communities still have a huge challenge in addressing the needs of generational trauma.

The reality is many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are dealing with trauma in conditions that are unacceptable for non-Indigenous Australia.

FASD and Suicide

We know that with all the energy in being strong, that some of us succumb to the trauma around us. Far too many of our people and particularly our young people look to drugs and alcohol to numb their pain.

This is an issue that is very close to my heart.

One of the big challenges in our communities, with clear links to suicide and self-harm is the prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD.

There are many symptoms and outcomes of intergenerational trauma but this is one of the most acute issues that I have experienced in community.

After a series of tragic suicides in 2006 a coronial inquest examined why so many Kimberley Aboriginal people were taking their own lives.

Not surprisingly it found that alcohol abuse was the primary reason for the suicide epidemic of Kimberley Aboriginal people.

I have said before, that my own impossible dream was to bring about better life opportunities for the children in my community and town of Fitzroy Crossing. I know that like me, many of us see the pain that our people, carry around and we want to take that away. But sometimes wounds are so deep for cultural medicine alone to fix.

After 50 deaths and attending too many funerals, I found it unacceptable that people I knew were dying in such high numbers from alcohol related preventable deaths. I knew that if we did not act, we would continue to see our families suffering and caught in a rut of grief and loss for years to come.

This was painfully disturbing to see and incredibly difficult to live within this environment of deep sadness, in a country as rich and blessed as Australia in the twenty first century.(7)

In February 2008, the State Coroner described the living conditions for Aboriginal people in Fitzroy Crossing as a “national disaster with no disaster response.”(8)

Remember, trauma compounds trauma.

Along with several other key leaders, we took an unprecedented step. With the support of our elders we lobbied the Director of Liquor Licensing seeking an initial 12 month moratorium on the sale of full strength take-away liquor across the Fitzroy valley.

We were met with fierce resistance, especially from some members of our own community who were addicted to a destructive lifestyle, but we were unrelenting in what we knew was a necessity to break a circuit of chaos and grief.

The restrictions have now been in place for nearly 10 years due to ongoing community support. Many who opposed our efforts are now thankful of the positive impacts that have become entrenched since the restrictions were put in place.

Independent evaluations have shown some great results due to the restrictions; large reductions in alcohol related police interventions, large reductions in alcohol related presentations to hospital and an increase in school attendance.

As a community, we started to change the conditions that incubate suicide and self-harm- but alcohol management is just one plank in the program of solutions that are needed.

Let me be clear, while we have seen some amazing results in my home community in Fitzroy Crossing, alcohol restrictions have never been intended as a panacea.

Alcohol management is just one part of an ongoing strategy for my community. We know that the support services that are desperately needed are often lacking in our communities if they exist at all.

While there has been some good progress in Fitzroy Crossing, we still lose too many people, particularly our young people, to suicide.

I am disheartened to hear that a decade on we are back again before another Coronial Inquiry.

I despair, as I am sure many of you do, knowing that inquiries aren’t a substitute for action but remain hopeful that the findings might translate into meaningful change for our communities.

Hard as it is, I know that we must continue to thrust the suicide epidemic that we are facing across the country into the spotlight.

I thank the work of people like Professors Pat Dudgeon and Tom Calma for doing just this through the work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation.

We know from that report, as with all other issues affecting our communities, that approaches to suicide prevention must be community owned and led if they are to be successful.

The Report recognises our holistic approach to health and articulates the connection between culture, healing, social determinants such as housing and education, and the generational impact of trauma.

One of the keys to preventing suicide is to remove the siloed approach to all these issues and instead, consider them all together. Our community controlled services are at the forefront of providing holistic, wrap-around services that look at the entirety of need.

Such approaches are a core part of the ongoing criticisms of how governments tend to organise their programs and services. When it comes to suicide prevention, we cannot afford to live with the chaos of disconnected programs and services.

The Close the Gap Campaign, of which I am a member, has been calling on the Federal government to fund an Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

This Strategy has a holistic view of our mental, physical, cultural and spiritual health. It has an early intervention focus that works to build strong communities through more community-focused and integrated approaches to suicide prevention.

A considered Implementation Plan with Government support is needed to genuinely engage with our communities, organisations and representative bodies to develop local, culturally appropriate strategies to identify and respond to those most at risk within our communities.

A future Implementation Plan should begin with the recommendations of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project Report from last year.

Conclusion

But there is a final point that I wish to make about this important issue and that is about the issue of place.

Too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples do not feel at home in the place we call our own. We feel at unease at the ever increasing role of governments and other agents in our lives. Daily experiences of racism and disadvantage are the norm and eat away at our health and wellbeing. It is sad that we live in a world so desensitised to our trauma that 10 year olds committing suicide are met with expectation and not surprise.

This is an indictment on our country. This is the story of Australia.

Brick by brick, structures have been built on our ancestral homes, leaving little room for our cultural way of life.

The challenge for us in the modern world is how do we continue to be sustained by the world’s oldest living culture in a society that seems to give it so little value. Walking in two worlds of what it means to be an Indigenous person in this country is not an easy path. Sadly, it is too easy to get swept up in the pain when you are surrounded by little else.

We need to shift how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are able to participate in Australian society.

We need structures, schools, safe spaces where we see ourselves reflected back to us, where we are respected, where we have the same opportunities as others, but also where our voices are heard. I don’t mean having a separate society for our peoples but one where we clearly see a place for ourselves and our children in what exists around us. This is what cultural security looks like.

I want to finish up by using a quote from Yolngu leader, Gularrwuy Yunupingu, which I believe speaks to so many things. He said:

What Aboriginal people ask is that the modern world now makes the sacrifices necessary to give us a real future. To relax its grip on us. To let us breathe, to let us be free of the determined control exerted on us to make us like you. And you should take that a step further and recognise us for who we are, and not who you want us to be. Let us be who we are – Aboriginal people in a modern world – and be proud of us. Acknowledge that we have survived the worst that the past had thrown at us, and we are here with our songs, our ceremonies, our land, our language and our people – our full identity. What a gift this is that we can give you, if you choose to accept us in a meaningful way’(9)

It is my hope that one day we won’t need conferences like these, and that our people will find a place in our country where they feel strong and supported and exist on equal footing with their fellow Australians.

That day is yet to come but being in the presence of you all gives me great hope for the future.

Thank you

Help

Lifeline 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

BeyondBlue 1300 224 636 or

Mensline 1300 789 978

KidsHelpline 1800 551 800

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #suicideprevention : #ABS Causes of death report released

cta6tlcweaadres

 

” In any other country, in any other part of the world these statistics would be a cause of national shame and soul searching,

“And quite frankly, if these numbers applied to any group of non-indigenous kids in Sydney or Melbourne, there would be pages of newspaper print and no amount of money, resources or political effort spared to address the issue.

It’s time there was a full Royal Commission into failings in the system that are driving so many people in our communities to such levels of despair that suicide is the only answer; and into what systemic changes we need to put in place to reverse such appalling statistics.”

Matthew Cooke NACCHO Chair Previous Press Release

” Youth suicide is a damning portrayal of the increasing sense of hopelessness – nearly 1 in 3 of the nation’s child suicides are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children despite where overall Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders comprise 1 in 17 of the Australian suicide toll.

The sense of hopelessness for a significant proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is a national disgrace, an abomination.”

Gerry Georgatos, Institute of Social Justice and Human Rights

Download the Data here

cta6tliweaafr_u

“We know support for people at risk of suicide is improved when evidence based, carefully planned and personalised approaches are delivered in local communities, timely follow up of people who have self harmed or attempted suicide is also vital.

“Importantly too, services need to be able to readily adapt to reduce suicide amongst the highest risk groups, including people living in rural and remote areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

Suicide, according to 2014 Australian Bureau of Statistics data, has continued on an upward trend and is at the highest rate in ten years.”

Co chair Advisory Group for Suicide Prevention
Sharon Jones from Relationships Australia Tasmania
” The release of statistics showing suicide is again the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-44 is a stark reminder of the need for a coordinated effort to reduced suicide in our communities. According to the ABS, 3,027 Australians died by suicide in 2015 – a 5.4 per cent increase from the previous year.
 
This is 3,027 too many.
 
Sadly, suicide continues to disproportionately impact indigenous communities, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people twice more likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the 15-17 age-group had a suicide rate more than five times higher than their non-Indigenous peers. This is heartbreaking.”
Catherine King MP Opposition Health spokesperson
LEADING CAUSES OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER DEATH

         AUSTRALIA’S LEADING CAUSES OF DEATH, 2015

Measures of mortality relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are key inputs into the Closing the Gap strategy, led by the Council Of Australian Governments (COAG). This is a government partnership where work is undertaken with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage. Mortality data enables measurement of progress towards key Closing the Gap targets.

Analysis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths included in this section refers only to those that occurred in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Data for Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory are excluded in line with national reporting guidelines (for information on issues with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identification, see Explanatory Notes 56-66).

In 2015, the standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons was almost double that of non-Indigenous Australians (999.9 compared with 578.8 deaths per 100,000 people respectively). There were also significant differences in the leading causes of death. Causes including Intentional self-harm (X60-X84), Cirrhosis and other liver diseases (K70-K76) and Land transport accidents (V01-V89) feature prominently among leading causes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths. Diabetes is the second leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but is ranked sixth for all Australians. In 2015 diabetes deaths occurred among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at a rate 4.7 times that of non-Indigenous Australians.

Key preliminary suicide data include:

  • In 2015, preliminary data showed 3,027 total suicide deaths (age-specific rate of 12.7 per 100,000); 2,292 males (19.4 per 100,000) and 735 females (6.2 per 100,000). There were 2,864 deaths in 2014 (12.2 per 100,000)
  • The highest age-specific suicide rate for males was observed in the 85+ age-group (39.3 per 100,000) with 68 deaths
  • However, there were 1,160 suicide deaths in males aged 30-54, with ages 40-54 all recording an age-specific rate of 30.9 per 100,000 – compared to the overall male rate of 19.4 per 100,000
  • The lowest age-specific suicide rate for males was in the 0-14 age-group 6 deaths (0.3 per 100,000) and the 15-19 age-group 89 deaths (11.8 per 100,000)
  • The highest age-specific suicide rate for females was observed in the 45-49 age-group (82 deaths; 10.4 per 100,000). The lowest age-specific suicide rate for females was observed in the 0-14 age-group with 8 deaths (0.4 per 100,000), followed by the 65-69, 60-64 and 75-79 age-groups (4.5, 5.4 and 5.4 per 100,000 respectively). The 15-19 female age-group rate rose from 5.3 per 100,000 in 2014 (38 deaths) to 7.8 per 100,000 in 2015 (56 deaths)
  • Consistently over the past 10 years, the number of suicide deaths has been approximately three times higher in the male population, than in the female. In 2015, 75.6% of suicide deaths were male
  • Of all deaths in 2015, 1.9% was attributed to suicide. The proportion of total deaths attributed to suicide, was higher in males (2.8%) than females (0.9%).

New suicide prevention advisory group

28 September 2016

This October sees the second meeting of the new Advisory Group for Suicide Prevention.

Established in response to a request in December 2015 by federal Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, the group provides advice, expertise and strategic support for suicide prevention policy across Australia by identifying priorities and promoting action.

In keeping with the National Mental Health Commission’s commitment to the ideal of nothing about us without us, membership includes people with a lived experience of mental ill health.

The nationally representative group is co chaired by Sharon Jones from Relationships Australia Tasmania and Lucy Brogden, commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission.

“We know support for people at risk of suicide is improved when evidence based, carefully planned and personalised approaches are delivered in local communities,” Sharon Jones said.

“Timely follow up of people who have self harmed or attempted suicide is also vital.

“Importantly too, services need to be able to readily adapt to reduce suicide amongst the highest risk groups, including people living in rural and remote areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

Suicide, according to 2014 Australian Bureau of Statistics data, has continued on an upward trend and is at the highest rate in ten years. It was the leading cause of death in people aged 1534 years and the suicide rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is double that of the nonindigenous population.

Mrs Brogden said: “The Advisory Group for Suicide Prevention is committed to arresting this trend. Our mission is to provide evidence based advice on suicide and self harm issues to the government and community.

“The group has a strategic role to monitor and evaluate the outcome of the Commonwealth’s significant investment in the 12 suicide prevention trial sites across Australia.

“As appropriate, the advisory group will assist primary health networks, PHNs, as they develop their own systematic approaches to community based suicide prevention.

“We believe a coordinated approach across sectors including health, community services, housing, employment and education is needed to create a national infrastructure and leadership on suicide prevention to government and the community.

“We understand that communities have an important role to play in suicide prevention. Working with the ABS and other interested groups who collect and analyse data is a critical to strong and effective suicide prevention strategies,” she said.

The Advisory Group for Suicide Prevention held its inaugural meeting in May 2016.

The Australian suicide toll will increase each year for many years to come

Gerry Georgatos, Institute of Social Justice and Human Rights
During the last five years I have accurately estimated the annual suicide toll and last year predicted that the 2015 toll would exceed 3,000 suicides. It will be higher for 2016.
 
I accurately estimated the Aboriginal and Torres Islander suicide toll for each of the last five years and again it will be higher for 2016.
 
There is no authentic response to the suicides crises – it is long overdue that a Royal Commission into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides is established. Similarly, a central body should be established to authenticate the ways forward, an Australian Commission into Suicide Prevention and Wellbeing.
It is important to establish such bodies if what we know works is to be further invested in, if what does not work is ceased, if what makes things worse is put to an end, if the inauthentic and carpetbaggers are weeded out, if disaggregation into high risk groups is identified and the tailor made sponsored.  
 
The conversations that Australia should be having are not being sponsored.
 
Australia’s official suicide toll reached 3,027 – a harrowing toll, more than double the combined total of Australian military deaths, homicides and the road toll. But the grim reality is that thousands more Australians suicided but because of under-reporting issues have not been classified as suicides. The accumulation of stressors is increasing and an increasing sense of hopelessness is debilitating more Australians to despair.
Similarly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders suicides will continue to increase at rates that should have been unimaginable.
 
However migrants are lost in translation, they account for more than one in four of the Australian suicide toll and we have to disaggregate to the high risk population groups so we leave no-one behind.
 
Generalised counselling is not the way forward and indeed tailor made counselling, education and psychosocial support are needed. The medicating of people is at record levels but more people than ever are victim to disordered thinking, high end depressions, a constancy of traumas, victim to aggressive complex traumas and more Australians than ever before attempting suicide.
 
Youth suicide is a damning portrayal of the increasing sense of hopelessness – nearly 1 in 3 of the nation’s child suicides are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children despite where overall Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders comprise 1 in 17 of the Australian suicide toll. The sense of hopelessness for a significant proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is a national disgrace, an abomination.
 
The answers do not rest with more medications or with a focus on ‘resilience’. ‘Resilience’ needs to be coupled with hope. Resilience in effect asks people to adjust their behaviour but how far and for how long without any hope on the horizon? The answers are found in improving the lot of others, with improving wellbeing, with the psychosocial uplift into hope, in an education that provides the dawn of new meanings and understandings, with understanding that traumas as various, unique, and with disaggregating to the high risk population groups but also to the high risk categorical groups, which include in order of highest risk; individuals who as children were removed from their biological families, the houseless/homeless, unaddressed childhood trauma, former inmates, victims of sexual abuse.

Peak body calls for Australia to match suicide prevention efforts and investment to magnitude of public health problem

 Suicide is again the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-44, demonstrating the need for greater national effort on suicide prevention. The report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that 3,027 Australians died by suicide in 2015. This is an 5.4% increase from the previously reported 2014 figure of 2,864.

Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) Chief Executive Sue Murray says:

“First and foremost I acknowledge the human lives lost by suicide and the pain suicide brings to our lives. Recent research tells us that hundreds of Australians are impacted by each suicide death. Today’s data release is a heartbreaking reminder of why Australia must match its prevention efforts and investment to the magnitude of the public health problem we face.”

“We are acutely aware that there is a continuing trend of increasing suicide rates among women, particularly young women, and a concerning shift to more violent means. Significant reforms are underway to improve regional responses to suicide.

We will maintain vigilance and work closely with key partners including Federal and State/Territory governments, the National Mental Health Commission and the Primary Health Networks to ensure resources are allocated where and when they are needed.”

National Coalition for Suicide Prevention Chairman Mathew Tukaki agrees and calls for focus in these unsettling times, “This year we have seen unprecedented bipartisan support for major mental health and suicide prevention reforms. The information released today tells us that our exposure to and the impact of suicide is on the rise.

We must focus on implementing the promised reforms, building workforce capacity and prioritising community driven suicide prevention supported by national leadership. We must hold our focus in order to make the deep systemic and social changes needed.”

The release of 2015 data has occurred much earlier than the usual March release.

The ABS has improved internal processes to bring the release forward and feel confident that they are able to maintain the high quality of the data while providing earlier access to this important public health information.

Key national 24/7 crisis support services include:

Key national youth support services include:

 

For further information or advice, please visit the Mindframe website or contact:

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #SuicidePrevention : Kimberley doctor speaks about his battle against Indigenous suicide

doctor

 ” Recently, the federal government picked the Kimberley as one of its 12 suicide-prevention trial sites, a product of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s $192 million election pledge.

The health department’s media release talks mainly in the abstract about developing models of suicide prevention to “tailor specifically to the unique and often culturally sensitive requirements of remote and Indigenous communities”.

This will use, it adds, the “expertise and local knowledge to tailor mental health solutions specific to their community needs”.

Yes, this would be welcome. But to many, its sentiments and its promises are depressingly familiar.

They are impulsive acts while intoxicated. It can be after a small argument, a trivial argument with a relative, friend or partner, and they just go off and find some hose.”

There are no nice, comforting words to describe what confronts Associate Professor Murray Chapman.

See previous NACCHO Aboriginal Health post  : Duplication or what ? 40 Mental Health Services for one community , 95 in an other

and 85 NACCHO articles on Suicide Prevention

A psychiatrist, trained in the UK, he is currently clinical director of the Kimberley Mental Health and Drug Service (KMHDS), which puts him at the centre of a community whose heart and soul is being torn apart by suicide.

“When you look at Indigenous suicide, it’s a completely different pattern to non-Indigenous suicide. There are many cries for help [from the young] where you live. If someone isn’t going to get a pair of shoes, they will tell you they are going to be angry, they’ll tell you they are not going home, or something like that. Here, in the Kimberley, the response is the threat of suicide. It has become the lingua franca of despair.”

In July, Professor Chapman and colleagues published a report in the Medical Journal of Australia. It was based on an audit of the KMHDS internal suicide and self-harm database, based on referrals to the service, police reports, and reports from local hospitals and various non-government agencies.

It found that, in the 10 years from 2005-2014, there were 125 suicides in the Kimberley. Of these, 102 were by indigenous people, who were mostly male (71%), mostly young (68% under age 30) and were mostly by people who had never come into contact with the services run by Chapman. Virtually all were by hanging. This was in an estimated population of around 14,000, which equates to an age-adjusted suicide rate of 74 per 100,000 population, or seven times the national rate.

The media has long been stirred up by the topic. Earlier in the year, there were reports of a suspected suicide of a 10-year-old indigenous girl in WA. In response to the coverage, the WA State Coroner’s office announced it would hold an inquest, not just into what happened to the girl, but into another 20 recent suspected suicides.

But it is easy to find similar stories about child suicide in the news cuttings from the year before, and the year before that — similar stories stretching back over the past 15-20 years.

[Keane: are we succeeding in curbing suicide?]

The causes of the tragedy, which has unfolded across the Kimberley and much of remote northern Australia, are hugely complex, Chapman says. He talks about collective trauma, the effects of colonisation, the effects of decolonisation and the Stolen Generation.

He talks about the damage done by alcohol and communities now dealing with the fallout of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, again at sky-high rates among those worse effected.

And then there is the basic poverty, the lives lived in the squats and slums.

“You are a young person and you have access to TV, you get Foxtel, and these kids can see the Kardashians and their ridiculous lifestyle and they look at what they have got. The mismatch of what is available and what to aspire to is substantial.”

As many indigenous leaders have pointed out over the years, Chapman says, suicide came late to indigenous Australia.

“From what we can gather in the Kimberley, until the ’60s or ’70s, and even the early ’80s, there was little in the way of suicide. But then it took off. It was at the time of the first royal commission into deaths in custody, and obviously it was partly about suicides happening in prison.

“When you look at the massive publicity in those days — there was a front cover of Time magazine with a picture of a noose — there was a recognised media effect [the Werther effect of copycat suicides] that helped push it into the community. It was probably already going that way, but [the publicity] really boosted it.”

Last month, the federal government picked the Kimberley as one of its 12 suicide-prevention trial sites, a product of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s $192 million election pledge.

The health department’s media release talks mainly in the abstract about developing models of suicide prevention to “tailor specifically to the unique and often culturally sensitive requirements of remote and Indigenous communities”.

This will use, it adds, the “expertise and local knowledge to tailor mental health solutions specific to their community needs”.

Yes, this would be welcome. But to many, its sentiments and its promises are depressingly familiar.

Back in 2007, for instance, WA State Coroner Alastair Hope began his inquest into the deaths of 22 indigenous people from suspected suicide. The idea was the same as now: to discover the broader reasons behind the individual tragedies.

Even with the distance of time, the findings make tough reading. Page after page recounting the final days or hours or moments of desperate people’s lives, short histories written in dry brutal bureaucratic words.

“During the preceding months the deceased had made several threats to harm himself … family and friends had, on occasions, physically removed objects from the deceased which could have been used as ligatures … at some point during the morning the deceased had a disagreement with his brother over a toy … a short time later he could not been seen … a search located him in front of a neighbouring house lying on the ground.”

[Trauma in the Kimberley: what life is like in remote indigenous communities]

The coroner’s report, which was published a year later, ran to more than 200 pages.

“In simple terms, it appears that Aboriginal welfare, particularly in the Kimberley, constitutes a disaster but no one is in charge of the disaster response,” Hope concluded.

He came up with 23 recommendations. He wrote about things as basic as changing the design in public housing so it was less about nuclear families and more about communal living.

He also wanted an end to a controversial work program for the indigenous unemployed, which he claimed, rather than offering meaningful work, seemed to result in what was called “sit down money” — money for doing nothing, which ended up fuelling alcohol misuse and the consequent havoc. But he also emphasised, first and foremost, the need to connect with Indigenous leadership.

Wes Morris, head of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre, which originally called for the inquest, says, in the end, only three recommendations were taken up by governments — and they were simply the sort of recommendations governments are good at delivering, namely, the creation of more services.

‘Malignant grief’

The softer, less tangible demands, he says, were largely ignored.

“Did any of it work? No. If it had worked, we wouldn’t be going through another inquest 10 years later or needing a suicide prevention trial,” Morris said.

“They assiduously avoided the much harder recommendations, such as the recommendations about Indigenous leadership. The coroner found that there was no one steering the ship, no one driving the train. And that remains largely true today.”

Morris talks about funeral fatigue in the Kimberley, the days spent in mourning the dead, the cultural exhaustion and what was described by Dr Helen Milroy, Australia’s first indigenous doctor, as ‘malignant grief’ — the irresolvable, collective, cumulative grief that spreads through the body of indigenous culture, through the body of indigenous people with the form of human despair, which kills.

He quotes from the paper Cultural Wounds by Emeritus Professor Michael Chandler, a former professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

“If suicide prevention is our serious goal, then the evidence in hand recommends investing new moneys, not in the hiring of still more counsellors, but in organized efforts to preserve Indigenous languages, to promote the resurgence of ritual and cultural practices, and to facilitate communities in recouping some measure of community control over their own lives.”

A myth

Human rights campaigner Gerry Georgatos, who has been writing on indigenous suicide for more than a decade, is one of the many voices repeating their calls for a royal commission into a social horror story.

In March, as news of the suspected suicide of the 10-year-old girl broke, he wrote:

“I have travelled to hundreds of homeland communities and the people who are losing their loved ones are crying out to be heard, they are screaming.

“It is a myth and predominately a wider community perception that there is a silence, shame, taboo — it’s the listening that is not happening.”

As for Chapman, he remains clear about the limits of what can be done by statutory services while the bigger societal forces that have ravaged indigenous communities remain.

“We work together, but up here all our partners — the primary care teams, the police teams — are under resourced. It’s the inverse care law.

“I’m working on the edge of nowhere. I have the least resources and the most need. But we work together. Yes, we have a standard response [when someone dies] to stop clustering, to support families to minimise the risk of further suicide. We advocate and endure.”

Professor Chapman, who has spent the past 14 years in the Kimberley, adds: “We know we [mental health services] can’t stop it on our own. We have a certain role. We save one or two, but we are standing at the bottom of cliff.

“Trying to identify individuals at high risk and trying to react is like trying to capture lightning in a jar. But everyone thinks that is what we should be doing…It’s never going to work.”

*For support and information about suicide prevention, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

*This article was originally published in Australian Doctor

NACCHO Aboriginal Health: Estimated 400 suicides in our communities in last three years

Image - www.nacchocommunique.com

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience suicide at around twice the rate of the rest of the population. Aboriginal teenage men and women are up to 5.9 times more likely to take their own lives than non-Aboriginal people.

This is a crisis affecting our young people. It’s critical real action is taken to urgently  address the issue and it’was heartening to see the previous Federal Government taking steps to do that.

For any strategy to be effective, local, community-led healthcare needs to be at its core.

But so far we have not heard from this Government on the future of The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group and the $17.8 million over four years in funding to reduce the incidence of suicidal and self-harming behaviour among Indigenous people.”

Justin Mohamed Chair NACCHO commenting on the crisis 

During the last three years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides are at nearly 400, no less than 380.

Research by Gerry Georgatos

Last year, I aggregated Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) hospital collated data on reported suicides of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – 996 suicides from 2001 to 2010. That is 1 in 24 of all deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – by suicide.

READ previous NACCHO articles on suicide prevention here

NACCHO community support : Raising funds for Elders report into Preventing Self-harm & Indigenous suicide.

Update we reached out goal of $9,500

There is no ABS data available at time to determine whether the crisis has abated or got worse, but I have been record keeping reported suicides – whether through the media, community organisations or via other sources – for my own academic research on premature and unnatural deaths. I have found that from the beginning of 2011 to end 2013 there have been nearly 400 suicides – child, youth and adult – of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

My own research estimates that the 996 suicides recorded between 2001 to 2010 are an under reporting of the actual numbers, and instead of 1 in 24 deaths by suicide, I have estimated that the rate of suicide was between 1 in 12 to 1 in 16. The 2001 to 2010 suicides average to 99.96 suicides per year. In reflection it was 99 custodial deaths alone over a ten year period in the 1980s that led to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. How many suicides will it take before this nation’s most horrific tragedy is met head on with a Royal Commission?

My research compilations during the last three years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides are at nearly 400, no less than 380. Where there had been an average 99 deaths by suicide from 2001 to 2010, according to my research the annual average for 2011 to 2013 has tragically increased to approximately 130 suicides per annum.

Last year, on October 23, the Chair of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council (IAC), Warren Mundine read my journalism and some of the research published predominately in The National Indigenous Times and by The National Indigenous Radio Service and in The Stringer and Mr Mundine responded with a never-before-seen commitment by a high profile Government official to urgently do something about the out-of-control crisis

He added the crisis to the IAC’s mandate – and he time-limited it to six months so that the crisis would not languish. But three months have passed and we have not heard anything from the Council despite several requests to them for information on any potential progress.

At the time, Mr Mundine expressed his shock at the extent of the crisis.

“The figures sit before your eyes and the scale of it you sort of go ‘oh my god, what the hell is going on?’ I admit that I was probably one of the problems, because we seem to handle mental illness and suicide and shunt it away, we never dealt with it as a society, but we have to deal with it, confront it, because we are losing too many of our people, too many of our young ones… It is about us understanding this and challenging ourselves, and as I said I am just as bad as anyone else out there who put this away and did not want to deal with mental health and the suicide rates, so we have to get over that,” said Mr Mundine.

“We are looking at putting (the suicide crisis) on the table for our first meeting, and looking at over the next three and six months at what’s the advice we will be looking at giving to the Government and the Prime Minister to deal with this issue.”

“My personal opinion, and there is no science in this, this is just my observation, is our self-esteem and culture, I think, plays a major part in these areas.”

“It is a problem and I congratulate The National Indigenous Times for putting it on the front page. We need to really start focusing on this a lot better and I’m not talking about the people who are in there already doing it because they’re the champions. I’m talking about myself and the rest of Australia, we need to get our act together.”

Since October 23 there have been two score suicides.

Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation CEO Robert Eggington said that in the last two weeks another spate of suicides has blighted both the south west and the north west of Western Australia.

“There have been suicides among our youth in recent weeks, another tragic spate. We met with the Premier last year and we are waiting for his promises to be kept to fund safe spaces and strategies for us to coordinate the helping of our people, but to date we have been kept waiting,” said Mr Eggington.

Chair of the Narrunga People, Tauto Sansbury said that he has been trying to arrange a meeting with Mr Mundine but despite three months of effort this has not occurred – Mr Mundine had promised to organise a meeting with Mr Sansbury following articles about the high rate of suicides among South Australia’s Aboriginal people.

“We have become used to broken promises by our State Government for a 24/7 crisis centre for our people and we hoped that Warren (Mundine) would represent the needs of our people, stand up for our most vulnerable, the at-risk, but to date he is yet to meet us let alone represent us,” said Mr Sansbury.

“Our young people and adults continue to fall victim to suicide.”

To the Northern Territory, where Aboriginal child suicides have increased by 500 per cent since the launching of the infamous “Intervention”, Arrente man and Bond University criminology student, Dennis Braun has reported the dark plight of one of the Territory’s communities – 33 deaths in five months. The community’s Elders have requested that the community is not publicly identified.

“The majority of the deceased were under 44 years of age. The youngest was a 13 year old who committed suicide a couple of days just before Christmas.”

“There should be an inquiry, but there is not despite 33 deaths. If this happened in an urban community like Sydney there’d be an outcry even after three or four deaths, with (residents and the wider community) wanting to know why it is happening and where to go for help.”

This publication has prioritised the suicide crisis for quite some time, sustaining the coverage, and the stories of loss, the grieving families, and we have effectively campaigned to Government to rise to the occasion. We do not apologise for this. On October 23, Mr Mundine and the Indigenous Advisory made a commitment that they must keep.

Links:

Warren Mundine including the suicide crisis to the IAC mandate

Government to address Aboriginal suicides

30 suicides in the last three months as we wait for promises to be kept

996 Aboriginal deaths by suicide – another shameful Australian record

Australia’s Aboriginal children – the world’s highest suicide rate

Whose child will be the next to die?

Suicide gap widening, says researcher

Funding for projects $4.5M to help prevent suicide in Aboriginal communities close 21 December

Up to $4.5 million in funding for projects to tackle the high rate of Indigenous suicide are now available for application until 21 December.

Minister for Mental Health Mark Butler said community-led projects targeting suicide prevention were an important part of addressing issue.

“Funding for projects specifically targeting suicide prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a vital part of the Government’s suicide prevention strategy.”

“We have redoubled our efforts in suicide prevention through our $166 million Taking Action to Tackle Suicide package and $126.8 million National Suicide Prevention Program. Together these programs invest $292.8 million in vital programs and services.”

“Five community-based Indigenous suicide projects received $1.5 million last year and now a further $4.5 million is being offered to help fund further community-led projects to tackle Indigenous suicide,” Mr Butler said.

This funding compliments the Federal Government’s work on suicide prevention for indigenous communities including the establishment of an advisory group to inform the development of Australia’s first national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

“We’ve also committed $10.1 million through the National Suicide Prevention Program for activity specifically targeting Indigenous peoples and their communities.”

“As part of the governments mental health reform package $206 million was provided to double the size of the Allied Psychological Services program which includes $36.5 million for Indigenous specific psychological services which are delivered in a culturally appropriate manner which will support around 18,000 Indigenous Australians.”

Mr Butler encouraged people interested in learning more about the strategy to visit

www.indigenoussuicideprevention.org.au

Guidelines for applications to the Supporting communities to reduce the risk of suicide (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander component) can be downloaded via

www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-scrrsab-guide.