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Department of Health Communique: Darwin Roundtable – Suicide Prevention

5 May 2017

A high-level Roundtable discussion, held on May 3 on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide in Darwin, Northern Territory, chaired by Federal Minister for Indigenous Health and Federal Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, emphasised the need for local, Indigenous controlled responses to the escalating rates of suicide in the community.

Minister Ken Wyatt, had committed the Government to this Roundtable discussion with key stakeholders in Darwin to understand what is working in the region and what is not and to find some agreement on ways to help shape a new landmark suicide prevention trial in the Darwin region.

Darwin has been selected as an initial site for a suicide prevention trial in recognition of the high rate of suicide in the region, particularly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In Darwin and the surrounding area, the five year average suicide rate is well above the national average, and in some areas two to three times the national average.

Delegates to the Roundtable were given a copy of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) report, which was discussed by the project director, Professor Pat Dudgeon.

The report evaluated the effectiveness of existing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention services and programs and makes a number of recommendations that emphasise the need for community and culturally sensitive involvement in any suicide prevention activities. The Report will be used to guide the Darwin Suicide Prevention Trial site.

Key outcomes from the Roundtable today included:

  • Agreement for a shared commitment between the Australian Government, the community and service providers to reduce the high rates of suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Darwin.
  • A recognition that suicide is not just a health issue but must link to the social and cultural determents of health.
  • that community based interventions are developed and implemented using a foundation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and in partnership with Indigenous communities, including the need to train the local Aboriginal mental health workforce as part of empowering the community.
  • that government funding and investment needs to be better targeted with more local involvement and streamlining between State and Federal funding arrangements.
  • and that the Northern Territory Primary Health Network (NTPHN) will work closely and collaboratively in partnership with Darwin Indigenous groups and organisations in the conduct of the trial.

Outcomes from the Roundtable will help plan and inform the design of the trial, local suicide prevention activity, and inform the design of strategies in the national trial.

It was agreed that the next step is to establish a Community Advisory Group consisting of representatives from local organisations as well as Commonwealth and State Departments with the assistance of the Federal Department of Health to develop the next action items for the trial. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have a lived experience of suicide will also be represented on this body.

Minister Wyatt undertook to hold further consultations on these matters with the local Indigenous community and other stakeholders in Darwin.

Find out more

Visit the Department of Health website to view the original media release and to access a PDF version of the release.

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