Today I met with young community leaders, Elders, representatives of suicide prevention organisations, health and government agencies and police to discuss and fast-track grassroots actions to counter the growing challenge of youth suicide.
This is in response to tragic losses in recent weeks, where a number of our young people have taken their own lives or attempted self-harm, particularly in my home state of Western Australia.
Overall, our people are taking their own lives at more than double the rate of the rest of Australian society. Among 15-34 year olds, it is triple, and for those aged 5-17, the disparity is fivefold.
In 2017, intentional self-harm was the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15-34.
These are tragic events which have devastating consequences for families and communities.
Following today’s meeting, the Morrison Government will:
- Fast-track the rollout of the Be You school-based mental health education program in the Kimberley and the Pilbara, with $2.32 million over two years for Beyond Blue to work in partnership with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
- Provide $1.5 million over two years for headspace National to develop and implement a social media campaign, focusing on reducing stigma and encouraging help-seeking behaviour
- Provide $360,000 over four years for headspace National to expand the Young Ambassadors for Mental Health project to include a special focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders youth
- Provide $80,000 over two years for the Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation to support families dealing with grief and to focus on suicide prevention and early intervention
I am deeply committed to this issue and to supporting and working together with our young people, Elders, families and communities to ensure our youth have hope for the future.
I look forward to working closely with the Hon Ben Wyatt, WA Minister for Indigenous Affairs and the Hon Roger Cook, WA Minister for Health, in tackling the loss of life through suicide.
The Morrison Government has committed to investing $1.45 billion over the next three years into Primary Health Networks, to commission regionally and culturally appropriate mental health and suicide prevention services, including in the Kimberley and the Pilbara regions.
The 12 suicide prevention trial sites, including the Kimberley where suicide rates are the highest, are receiving $48 million in funding.
I believe we can collectively make a difference if we do things with and not to our people, to close the gap on this tragic issue.