Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has sat down with young Kimberley leaders in Broome to discuss the outcomes of a recently-held forum on suicide prevention.
Following the suicide-prevention roundtable in Broome last year, Minister Scullion provided $50,000 to local Broome Aboriginal organisation, Aarnja Ltd, to help facilitate the forum. Minister Scullion has now received a report on the outcomes as well as a suicide-prevention plan.
“Every single suicide is a tragedy, but when it affects our young people it is particularly devastating,” Minister Scullion said.
“And tragically, almost every community I visit across the country has been touched by suicide and it’s something that breaks my heart. We know Indigenous suicide rates are double that of non-Indigenous people, five times higher for young Indigenous Australians and the rate in the Kimberley is one of the highest nationally.
“For too long, we have come up with solutions for young people rather than supporting them to come up with the solutions. This forum marks the beginning of a new approach where young people come up with the solutions to the issues that affect them.”
The forum achieved three key outcomes:
- Participants identified vulnerabilities for young people in the Kimberley and workshopped solutions, ways to achieve these solutions, and partners to assist with prevention programmes;
- Two youth representatives were selected to sit on a working group overseeing the three-year Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial (part of a series of national trials);
- Participants ensured the Kimberley Aboriginal Youth Leadership Programme is directly linked to suicide-prevention efforts by establishing clear life pathways and young leadership role models.
Since 2005, nearly 70 per cent of people who have taken their lives in the Kimberley region have been aged less than 30.
“We need to better engage with young people to find solutions to reduce suicide. While it can be easy to become disheartened by the situation, I have been extremely impressed with the willingness of Kimberley youths to take on leadership roles,” Minister Scullion said.
“I am confident that by placing them in the driving seat we will finally succeed in reducing the rates of youth suicide.”