$10M Boost to Prevent Indigenous Suicide
23 January 2017 at 4:24 pm
An initiative launched to tackle Indigenous suicide has received a $10 million boost as the scheme is poised to roll out nationally.
The Indigenous-led Critical Response Service, which has been trialled in Western Australia over the past year, is set to be expanded into the Northern Territory and South Australia this year before being rolled out nationally in 2018.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion, who announced the expansion in Groote Eylandt on Monday, said the federal government would invest $10 million over three years in a bid to combat high suicide rates among Indigenous people.
“Every suicide is a tragedy and the effects on tight-knit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are often more profound – contributing to the clusters of suicide and self-harm that we see,” Scullion said.
“Suicide rates among Indigenous people are twice the national rate and five times the national rate for young people.
“For suicide rates to fall it is essential Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access responsive and culturally-appropriate care – and this is something the Critical Response Service will support.”
The service is led by Adele Cox, a Bunuba and Gija woman from the Kimberley region of WA and a national leader in mental health and suicide prevention.
She said it would support individuals, families and communities and help to “lessen the burden” felt by many in their time of need, while at the same time contributing to broader suicide-prevention activities.
Members of the Critical Response Service team make contact with Indigenous families affected by a suicide or a traumatic event and coordinate existing support services to ensure they are delivered in a coordinated and culturally appropriate way that best meets the needs of the family.
It comes after the government commissioned report, Solutions that Work: What the Evidence and Our People Tell Us, found solutions needed to be Indigenous-led and better coordinated.
Scullion said the report confirmed what he was seeing in the community.
“A myriad of support services delivered by different agencies and not-for-profit organisations but with little coordination between them to make sure families are properly supported in times of great distress,” he said.
“The effect is that people fall between the cracks.
“The Critical Response Service will coordinate support services by working with families to ascertain their needs and ensure services are delivered in a way that best meets the needs of families and communities.”
The national roll out of the Critical Response Service will be funded through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.