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Solutions that work: addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide rates

11 November 2016

The National Mental Health Commission today congratulated the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project on the release of their report into indigenous suicide rates.

“Solutions that work: what the evidence and our people tell us is a milestone in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing,” said Commission CEO Dr Peggy Brown.

“The report’s 17 recommendations to government, including that local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services remain preferred mental health service providers, are key to addressing the unacceptable rate of suicide in Indigenous communities.

“Implementing the recommendations in a timely way will help to arrest the high rates of Aboriginal suicide.

“The Commission congratulates all involved,” Dr Brown said.

The report evaluated 88 suicide prevention programs Australia-wide to identify and analyse the most successful.

Professor Pat Dudgeon from the University of Western Australia’s School of Indigenous Studies, a NMHC commissioner, was the lead author.

She told the UWA News: “Nearly one in three young Australians (aged between five and 17 years) who takes their own life is Indigenous and this report was about finding out which programs were working to help us improve our approach to suicide prevention.”

Professor Dudgeon also said the project team had run a pilot project in WA, working with Indigenous families affected by suicide trauma to map long-term support needs, galvanise more effective care coordination and report where needs were not being met in communities with limited or no services.

“The ATSISPEP report has also helped us to raise awareness of the pressing issues that can lead to suicide,” Professor Dudgeon said.  

Solutions that work: what the evidence and our people tell us was launched in Canberra on 10 November 2016. The ceremony was attended by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion and Minister for Health and Aged Care, Sussan Ley.

"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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