Acting Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Indigenous Affairs Senator the Hon. Nigel Scullion
The Coalition Government’s Critical Response Service, successfully trialled in Western Australia over the past year, will be expanded into the Northern Territory and South Australia in 2017 as part of a national roll out of the initiative.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, who announced the expansion of the initiative in Groote Eylandt today, said the Government was investing $10 million over three years to roll out the service nationally. It will be progressively expanded into jurisdictions beyond WA, SA and the NT from 2018.
The Critical Response Service is an Indigenous-run initiative led by Ms Adele Cox, a Bunuba and Gija woman from the Kimberley region of WA and a national leader in mental health and suicide prevention.
Members of the Critical Response Service team make contact with Indigenous families affected by a suicide or a traumatic event and coordinate existing support services to ensure they are delivered in a coordinated and culturally appropriate way that best meets the needs of the family.
“Every suicide is a tragedy and the effects on tight-knit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are often more profound – contributing to the clusters of suicide and self-harm that we see,” Minister Scullion said.
“Suicide rates among Indigenous people are twice the national rate and five times the national rate for young people. For suicide rates to fall it is essential Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access responsive and culturally-appropriate care – and this is something the Critical Response Service will support.”
The Government commissioned the Solutions that work: What the evidence and our people tell us report to advise on what works and what doesn’t, and it found that solutions need to be Indigenous-led and better coordinated.
“Unfortunately the Solutions that Work report confirmed what I see as I go from community to community – a myriad of support services delivered by different agencies and not-for-profit organisations but with little coordination between them to make sure families are properly supported in times of great distress. The effect is that people fall between the cracks,” Minister Scullion said.
“The Critical Response Service will coordinate support services by working with families to ascertain their needs and ensure services are delivered in a way that best meets the needs of families and communities.”
Ms Cox said the Critical Response Service would support individuals, families and communities and help to lessen the burden felt by so many in their time of need while at the same time contributing to broader suicide-prevention activities.
This project marks a continuation of Minister Scullion’s commitment to addressing the high rates of suicide in Indigenous communities. Funding commitments have included the pilot Critical Response Project in WA last year which responded to about 30 incidents, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Evaluation Prevention Project, and Mental Health First Aid training for frontline workers in remote Indigenous communities.
The national roll out of the Critical Response Service will be funded through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.