National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy

Working with all communities

Page last updated: 2013

Community consultations for the national strategy highlighted the need for a dual focus on:

  1. Developing the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander controlled services and communities to lead and sustain strengths-based preventive activities and culturally specific approaches to healing and recovery from trauma and
  2. Building the capacity of mainstream services and agencies to be more inclusive and responsive to the needs and circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in all cities, towns and communities.
National suicide prevention strategies have generally favoured universal actions that have the broadest possible reach. However, for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy, actions should be implemented in a manner that is proportionate to the level of risk and vulnerability in communities and groups within the wider population. The National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2004-2009 principles state that "….there is no one single Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander culture or group….." and therefore there are different needs across and within groups. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples also live in different settings and it is important that these different needs are addressed through locally developed strategies.

A reflection of the importance of local approaches is contained in the Community LiFE Framework for Effective Community-Based Suicide Prevention – Draft for Consultation (2005) developed as part of the Community LiFE project under the National Suicide Prevention Strategy. These classified mental health interventions range from prevention through treatment to continuing care (See figure 6 below). This scheme classifies mental health interventions as universal, selective or targeted and indicated.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the effort to improve the relevance and reach of universal measures and mainstream services as provided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services needs to be balanced by the implementation of targeted strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, vulnerable groups and families. The balance will also vary across circumstances in regions of Australia according to availability of appropriate services and resources. Top of page

Figure 6: Spectrum of mental health interventions

Refer to the following text for a text equivalent of figure 6: spectrum of mental health interventions

Source: Community LiFE Consultation Draft (2005), p. 16

Text version of figure 6

This figure highlights that mental health promotion spans across all elements of intervention - including prevention, early intervention, treatment, recovery and continuing care. Early intervention overlaps with prevention and treatment, while recovery overlaps with treatment and continuing care.

Prevention includes:

  • Universal
  • Selective
  • Indicated
Early intervention includes:
  • Indicated interventions
  • Symptom identification
  • Early treatment
Treatment includes:
  • Symptom identification
  • Early treatment
  • Standard treatment
Recovery includes:
  • Standard treatment
  • Engagement with longer-term treatment and support (including relapse prevention)
  • Long-term care
Continuing care includes:
  • Engagement with longer term treatment and support (including relapse prevention)
  • Long-term care.

Source: Community LiFE Consultation Draft (2005), p. 16