Investments are being made in suicide research through the National Health and Medical Research Council, and through funding for research activity under the National Suicide Prevention Program. The National Centre of Excellence in Suicide Prevention also provides advice and evidence of best practice on suicide prevention in Australia and overseas.

Recommendation 3

The Committee recommends that the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council liaise with the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Research Council, government departments (including state and territory government departments) and other agencies with a role in this domain, to develop a priority research agenda for youth suicide, with a view to jointly supporting a coordinated and targeted program of research. (para 3.42)

Response

The Australian Government supports this recommendation and is taking action to address it.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is committing $26.2 million over five years (from 2011-12) to prioritise applied research in mental health and strengthen the strategic research capacity within the mental health research community. Through this reform initiative, the NHMRC issued a targeted call for research for up to $13 million into the prevention of, and early intervention in, mental illness in children and young people.

NHMRC has also allocated $7.4 million to three new Centres of Research Excellence, with two based at the University of New South Wales and one at the University of Queensland. These Centres of Research Excellence will focus on the issues of suicide prevention, substance abuse and better mental health planning and will work to support the transfer of research outcomes into improved knowledge, better health systems and improved treatment for individuals and their families.

This initiative is for additional research and will not preclude or limit applications for mental health related research projects through the NHMRC's normal competitive project grants process.

The National Centre of Excellence in Suicide Prevention continues to support governments, non-government organisations, academics and community groups in their work on suicide prevention. A publicly available half-yearly critical literature review outlines recent advances and promising developments in suicide prevention research. Youth suicide responses will be a specific category of future literature reviews. Research is currently disseminated via the Griffith University website at www.griffith.edu.au/health/australian-institute-suicide-research-prevention/research/national-centre-excellence-suicide-preventionTop of page

The Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, funded by the Australian Government Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, is also conducting research into how technology can be used to ensure that all young Australians are safe, happy, healthy and resilient. Led by the Inspire Foundation, it brings together young people, researchers, practitioners and innovators from 63 organisations from across the not-for-profit, academic, government and corporate sectors to improve the mental health and wellbeing of people aged 12 to 25.

Representatives of the NHMRC attended the most recent meeting of the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council (ASPAC) on 23 April 2013 to discuss the issues that impact suicide prevention research.

The Australian Government has asked ASPAC to prioritise the identification of suicide prevention research activity, including youth, in the implementation of the National Suicide Prevention Action Framework, and will continue to support research initiatives in this area.

Additionally, both the National Male Health Policy and the National Women's Health Policy 2010 identify mental health as a priority health issue and are supported with funding for the expansion and establishment of Longitudinal Studies.

The Australian Longitudinal Study of Women's Health is established and notes the higher prevalence of depression and anxiety among females and a higher occurrence of plans to suicide and suicide attempts. Additional funding of $5.3 million over four years (from 2010-11) has been provided to add a new, younger cohort to this 17-year study. This new cohort of "Generation Y" women will allow longer term comparisons of the health and wellbeing of Australian women over time.

The National Male Health Policy Longitudinal Study will be the first of its kind and will focus on measures of the social determinants of health, including mental health. It will pay particular attention to key life events such as commencing high school, employment entry and early relationships.Top of page

Recommendation 4

The Committee recommends the Department of Health and Ageing, in conjunction with state and territory governments, facilitate the sharing of evaluations of existing programs and youth-suicide research across the entire suicide-prevention sector, through the establishment and maintenance of an online program-evaluation clearinghouse. (para 3.50)

Response

The Australian Government supports this recommendation and has initiatives in place to address it.

The LIFE Communications project and living is for everyone website (www.livingisforeveryone.com.au) provide a broad sector communication strategy and resources, facilitate the sharing of expertise, knowledge and information between stakeholders, and conduct workshops on evaluating suicide prevention projects. The LIFE website provides links to relevant research, including that of the National Centre for Excellence for Suicide Prevention, and provides details of projects funded under the National Suicide Prevention Program.

The National Mental Health Commission, established on 1 January 2012, is a small, focused agency with an accountability and advisory role. Its functions include: providing advice on program evaluations; identifying opportunities to maximise the use of data to inform policy development and to increase data sharing and consistency; highlighting gaps within mental health service systems; and engaging consumers and carers in mental health policy and service improvements.

Additionally, an evaluation of the National Suicide Prevention Program is currently underway and is scheduled for completion in June 2013. This evaluation will examine how effectively the aims and objectives of the National Suicide Prevention Program, and projects funded under it, have been met.