Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are dying at twice the rate of other Australians from suicide, and among younger age groups the rate can be six times higher. In some communities, suicide clusters involving up to 20-plus deaths in a short time-frame take a terrible toll not only in terms of wasted lives, but also devastate communities and those left behind. Professor Pat Dudgeon, from The University of Western Australian's School of Indigenous Studies and a summit convenor said: "It's time that this terrible ‘gap' is closed, once and for all."
Next week in Perth, three key events are planned from June 23 to 24 at the Nedlands Yacht Club that have the potential to help turn things around.
The first is a two-day Roundtable at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, youth leaders, health professionals, academics, social justice campaigners and government representatives will meet for a ‘third conversation' with Professor Michael Chandler, a noted expert in suicide prevention among people in Canadian First Nations. This will provide a forum to discuss solutions in Australia being led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the importance of culture and self-determination in suicide prevention. Some of the 29 Elders from Cape York to the Kimberley who contributed to the landmark Elders' Report into Preventing Indigenous Self-Harm and Youth Suicide will attend the roundtable. In his report foreword, ATSI Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda wrote that what makes the report different "is that the solutions come from the people".
During the Roundtable the second edition of the ground-breaking book Working Together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing, Principles and Practice will be launched. This excellent resource for those who work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention is edited by Professor Dudgeon - the first Aboriginal psychologist; Professor Helen Milroy - the first Aboriginal psychiatrist; and Associate Professor Roz Walker from Telethon Kids Institute.
Finally, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Group in Mental Health will be launched. The body has coalesced around a core group of senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people based in, or associated with, the Australian mental health commissions. The emergence of this leadership group signals a new era in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in the areas of mental health and suicide prevention.
WHAT: Invitation for the media to meet the Elders, youth leaders, health professionals, academics and other delegates at The Third Conversation: Has Anything Changed? Indigenous Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Roundtable hosted by the Centre for Research Excellence in Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing, Telethon Kids Institute, UWA's School of Indigenous Studies, the Poche Centre and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health group.
WHEN: 10am, Tuesday 24 June
WHERE: Nedlands Yacht Club, The Esplanade, Nedlands, WA