Investments in community programs vital to address suicide rates

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Australian Greens are calling on the Federal Government to support community driven and delivered programs to address self harm and youth suicide, saying that funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical and mental health services must be protected from cuts in the upcoming budget.

"Today's Elders' Report Into Preventing Indigenous Self-harm & Youth Suicide is promoting community led solutions to suicide, with a focus on helping young people connect with their culture," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues said today.

"The report highlights the importance of culture and cultural connections in reducing suicide and building strength in the community.

"Report after report, and international evidence shows the important role that connection to culture has on health and well-being. We know that community driven and operated health and community programs are important for delivering better health and mental health outcomes. This needs to be the focus for governments at a federal, state and territory level, rather than the old fashioned and ineffective top-down funding models we continue to see.

"Youth suicide is an ongoing problem and clearly the current approach is not working. We need to ensure investments are made to enable community driven and delivered health and mental health services to be effective.

"It is also important that our education system has a focus on building and supporting language and culture, alongside other subjects. This is an important factor in helping kids remain engaged at school, but also in ensuring that important aspects of culture and language are passed on.

"We know that community owned and community driven health and mental health programs can be highly effective. Governments need to form strong partnerships with communities and give them the support they need," Senator Siewert concluded.

The Elders' Report Into Preventing Indigenous Self-harm & Youth Suicide is available online - click here.