Kimberley Suicide Prevention Working Group meeting in Broome

Today’s meeting of key partners in the Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial marks another important step to tackle the unacceptably high rate of Indigenous suicide in the Kimberley.

Page last updated: 02 February 2017

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Today’s meeting of key partners in the Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial marks another important step to tackle the unacceptably high rate of Indigenous suicide in the Kimberley.

The Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM MP, and the Federal Member for Durack, Melissa Price MP, met today with members of the Kimberley Suicide Prevention working group in Broome to discuss action items for the suicide prevention trial.

The meeting follows a Roundtable late last year that emphasised the need for local Indigenous partnerships to respond to the escalating rates of suicide in the community.

It agreed to establish a working group consisting of representatives from local organisations as well as Commonwealth and State Departments to develop the next action items for the trial.

Mr Wyatt said today’s meeting of the working group was to seek advice on appropriate services and activity that can be commissioned to conduct the suicide prevention trial in the Kimberley region.

Working group partners committed to the development of a system-based approach which emphasises coordinated, comprehensive and ongoing support to provide a collective voice for a network of suicide prevention services from towns and remote communities across the Kimberley region.

As a first step the working group agreed to develop a project workplan for the trial that includes action items and a framework for the Kimberley trial.

“The Government’s commitment to help prevent people in the communities of the Kimberley from taking their own lives is unshakeable,” said Mr Wyatt.

“As a Western Australian Indigenous man, my own commitment to the issue is deeply personal.

“This is one of the gravest and most heartbreaking challenges facing our country – and it’s only through tackling the social and cultural determinants of health that we can really make a difference to mental health outcomes for First Australians.

“Our people, our families and our communities are scarred and devastated by the loss of so many loved ones to suicide.

“Now we must build strength, and give hope and support. The aim of the working group is to ensure that Indigenous communities and Indigenous people feel empowered to make their own decisions, to live their culture and to lead their own suicide prevention activities. That is the key step in moving forward.”

Ms Price said she is convinced following today’s meeting that the Federal Government will find the solutions to address the Indigenous mental health issues in the region.

“Following today’s working group meeting, I believe there is a sharp focus and a real sense of urgency from those who attended to tackle Indigenous suicide and self-harm in the Kimberley,” she said.

“Although there is a sense of urgency, it is important that we get it right – this is a once in a life time opportunity.”

The Government has committed funding of up to $1 million per year over three years to June 2019 to the Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial. This funding is available to support suicide prevention activities developed by the working group.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Nigel Scullion, last week committed $10 million to expand nationally the suicide prevention trials conducted in WA over the past year.

The Critical Response Team (CRT) model involves trained crisis team visits to families affected by suicide and other traumatic events to co-ordinate support services to help them deal with loss.

This model, which is based on the need to build resilience by communities for communities, is another part of the Government’s determination to tackle Indigenous suicide.

Mr Wyatt said some may think that given the grave situation faced by Indigenous people in the Kimberley that progress on the suicide trial was too slow.

He said it was important to understand that the success of the trial would be determined by getting all parties in agreement on the way forward and to ensure good governance, co-ordinated effort, cultural identity and self-empowerment.

Mr Wyatt said: “There is no short cut on these vital elements and the ultimate success of the suicide trial is based on getting the key elements in place to support a more integrated approach to suicide prevention and commissioning regionally appropriate mental health and suicide prevention services.”

For more information contact Randal Markey, Minister Wyatt’s office, 0417 318 620

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