National Strategy on Indigenous Suicide

The Federal Government has launched a national strategy specifically addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide.

The Government says the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy will focus on early intervention with the aim of reducing the prevalence of suicide and the impact on individuals, their families and communities.

The Strategy identifies six broad action areas, which are:
· Building strengths and capacity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities;
· Building strengths and resilience in individuals and families;
· Targeted suicide prevention services;
· Coordinating approaches to prevention;
· Building the evidence base and disseminating information; and
· Standards and quality in suicide prevention.

The Government says the strategy is supported by $17.8 million in new funding over four years.

“The Strategy had been developed in close consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including 14 community meetings across Australia, a national expert workshop, and a website that received 48 contributions directly from the community,” the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler said.

“Funding will support the establishment of local suicide prevention networks and a centre of best practice to support and prioritise local, community-led activities, and share knowledge in suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the nation.

“These activities will be developed in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and will implement key elements of the Strategy.

“The Government recognises that suicide is a complex issue that impacts on individuals, families and the communities in which they live and this is even more so for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are experiencing suicide within their communities at approximately twice the rate of the rest of the population.

Depression Not for Profit, beyondblue says the new strategy to reduce Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides will save lives.

Beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell AO said the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide rate was deeply distressing and that urgent action was needed to reduce it.

“This is a significant step towards reducing the awful pain and suffering caused by suicide in these communities,” Carnell said.

“Rates of depression and anxiety among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are difficult to measure but we know from some State-level data that they may be higher than for non-Indigenous Australians.

“That is why we commend the Federal Government on adopting this vital measure, which will save lives and cannot come soon enough.

“The strategy will build on beyondblue’s work in this field, which has a strong focus on building hope, resilience and awareness to promote positive social and emotional well-being in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“This includes programs such Stories for Keeping Strong, a series of short films in English and Arrernte that help communities tackle depression and anxiety, and sponsorship of culturally-relevant events and media such as the Marngrook Footy Show on SBS to raise awareness about how to take action on these conditions.”

The Strategy can be downloaded here.

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