In 2011, 321 young people took their own lives. The pain, hurt and grief of youth suicide, and the potential foregone in young lives lost, is a tragedy that touches everyone – family, friends and the wider community.
In June 2010, we welcomed the Senate Community Affairs References Committee report, The Hidden Toll: Suicide in Australia, and in our response indicated that we are actively working to implement its recommendations. Similarly, we welcome this complementary House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing report, Before it's too late.
The Australian Government has embraced suicide prevention activities as a significant component of mental health reform. We are delivering a $2.2 billion investment in new and expanded mental health reforms over the period 2011-12 to 2015-16, which includes $696.2 million specifically to support young people through early intervention and prevention mechanisms. This is an investment in the future of our nation.
The Mental Health Reform package builds on the Gillard Government's election commitment to take action to tackle suicide. These measures will target those most at risk of suicide in our community – including young Australians – and save lives. Our reforms in these areas have been informed by consultations that I held with stakeholders operating in the health and non-health fields, including through a national program of consumer and carer meetings and a special Mental Health Expert Working Group.
As a direct result of the experiences shared during these consultations, our aim is to really focus on prevention and early intervention. Another is to help people to stay well in, and connected to, the community.
We understand that suicide is a complex and multidimensional issue, its causes rooted in a variety of circumstances, and we recognise that tackling suicide is neither easy nor straightforward. However, we also firmly believe that by working together we can improve the outcomes for vulnerable young people, and watch them grow up to live valuable and productive lives.
Minister for Mental Health and Ageing