The School of Indigenous Studies at UWA was honoured to host Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and The Hon. Sussan Ley, Minister for Health, Aged Care, Sport, last Friday to discuss Indigenous suicide.
Professor Pat Dudgeon, National Mental Health Commissioner and Research Professor and project leader for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) was contacted by Minister Ley for her specialist knowledge in the area.
“We welcomed this meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Sussan Ley. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention is an area that needs urgent attention and we value the commitment shown by the Australian Government.
"The ATSISPEP team has consulted closely with Indigenous communities to develop a cultural framework for services and programs around suicide prevention. Roundtables with key stakeholders and this year’s national conference have provided further insight and offered strategies in helping to heal our communities,” Professor Dudgeon said.
The meeting at UWA was also attended by Professor Robyn Owens (DVC Research) and Professor Darlene Oxenham (Deputy Dean). With alarming statistics and the overall national suicide trend at 11 deaths per 100,000 population (with 119 per 100,000 between the ages of 15 and 24), the Prime Minister and Minister took the opportunity to ask Professor Dudgeon wide-ranging questions on Indigenous suicide and suicide prevention.
“It was a great opportunity to have a direct conversation with the Prime Minister, to talk frankly and openly about current needs, challenges and proposed change. We need ongoing communication and solid relationships with Government if we are to address this epidemic and give power to Indigenous communities so that they can bring about change from within,” Professor Dudgeon added.
The ATSISPEP project was funded by the Australian Government through the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to evaluate the effectiveness of suicide prevention services and programs and offer guidance in the way forward. Following on from eighteen months of dedicated research and consultation, the ATSISPEP final report will be released in September 2016. It will include recommendations and alternative evidence-based service and program delivery models.