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

Lisa Final

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

Please note: Official Goverment release is included below

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEW HIGH-LEVEL GROUP ADVISE ON TACKLING INDIGENOUS SUICIDE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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