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Commission welcomes funding for first National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy

23 May 2013

Media Release

The National Mental Health Commission has welcomed today’s Australian Government announcement of $17.8 million over four years to fund the first National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

National Mental Health Commission Chair Prof. Allan Fels says: “The suicide rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is over twice that of other Australians. A sad and disturbing fact that is simply unacceptable.

“We commend the Australian Government and contributing stakeholders for developing a dedicated strategy to address this urgent problem and for ensuring significant funding over the next four years to secure its implementation.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health was a key focus of the Commissions’ first National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in 2012. Among its recommendations the Commission called for:

• The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to include measurable improvements to mental health and wellbeing as an additional target in the ‘Closing the Gap’ program

• Training and employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in mental health services to increase

• Better support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, and regular reporting on progress

“Mental illness and suicide must be a priority if we are to truly combat the vicious cycles of disadvantage that exist in too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“This announcement is important because it commits significant funding to a dedicated plan for reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide that places Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders at the centre of thinking and decision-making.

“While the Commission welcomes today’s announcement, much more can be done to improve the mental health and wellbeing of the First Australians.

“We wish to repeat our call for COAG to include a measurable improvement to mental health and wellbeing as an additional target in the ‘Closing the Gap’ program,” Prof. Fels says.

Contact: Ben Hornbrook, 0431 180 161 / bhornbrook@boxingclever.net.au

 

"Even the most disadvantaged Australians should be able to lead a 'contributing life,' whatever that means for them and this simple goal will be our touchstone and yardstick."

Chair Prof Allan Fels AO
National Mental Health Commission

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