WA government announces new funding for Aboriginal suicide prevention

The McGowan Government has announced they will inject nearly $10 million towards developing and implementing a region-by-region approach to Aboriginal suicide prevention in Western Australia.

The regional plans will prioritise Aboriginal-led and locally endorsed initiatives that accommodate a culturally informed social and emotional wellbeing approach to suicide prevention. This includes the principles: nothing for Aboriginal people without Aboriginal people; enable Aboriginal-led solutions; and cultural understanding and respect.

An additional $4.79 million has also been allocated to programs to provide additional suicide prevention support to all Western Australians as part of the WA Recovery Plan, including aftercare support following a suicide attempt through a peer-based approach, providing support and meeting the needs of those affected by a suicide death, increasing capacity of services that provide long-term support to children who have been bereaved by a suicide death, and improving community-level data collection for suicide prevention.

The initiatives form part of the Western Australian Recovery Plan and will help address suicide risk from elevated rates of stress or anxiety, loneliness from isolation, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, unemployment, self-harm and suicidal behaviour.

This funding is in addition to the $32.3 million announced in March to continue programs that formed part of the Suicide Prevention 2020 strategy. They will form part of the implementation of the Suicide Prevention 2025 Framework, to be launched in August.

Mental Health Minister Roger Cook said the new approach had come about through extensive community consultation. and it was essential that ‘a one size fits all’ approach was not used to tackle a challenge as diverse as suicide prevention.

“Through our extensive consultation with communities throughout the State the need for regional-specific Aboriginal suicide prevention plans, to better cater for the cultural considerations and specific priorities in each region was identified.

The Health Minister said the COVID-19 pandemic had also had an impact on people’s mental health and more support was needed.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our community in many ways – it has brought us together and increased wellbeing for some individuals – but it has also brought isolation, loneliness and financial challenges.

“We must support those in our community who are doing it tough and struggling during this time – including supporting those who are thinking about or have attempted suicide.

“There are things you can do to help those around you as well – check in with a mate or support your neighbour and encourage them to seek help if they need it.” Cook said.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt said the new program highlighted the government’s commitment to working with local communities to ensure the best solutions were identified.

“This extensive funding package will provide appropriate supports to those most at risk of suicide – and it will save lives.

“We have listened, we have heard you, and we are committed to working with communities to provide local solutions.” Wyatt said.

OIP Staff

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