Marie McInerney and Summer May Finlay report:
The second National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference closed on Wednesday, with most delegates set to move into the second World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference for the next two days.
Conference convenor Professor Pat Dudgeon, who is from the Bardi people of the Kimberley area in Western Australia, closed the national event with the presentation of a list of recommendations developed over the two days of sessions.
She said Elders from many nations attending the international conference will meet on Friday to consider “what they think are the big recommendations and then we’ll weave them together”.
Dudgeon is a psychologist and Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society, and the Poche Research Fellow at the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) at the University of Western Australia.
She said the final recommendations will be presented to government and shared broadly across Australia.
The 13 draft recommendations are:
- The first step in suicide prevention is a recovery and healing process for community.
- Suicide prevention needs Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community control, empowerment and self determination.
- Suicide prevention needs to draw on aspects of culture to give strength and identity.
- Addressing racism is an important aspect of suicide prevention.
- Suicide prevention needs to build the capacity and capability of Indigenous service providers:
- increase the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention workforce
- ensure that workforce is culturally safe
- embed the role for cultural healers, including paid positions.
- Additional resources need to be made available for services based on individual and community need.
- Recognise the important role of Elders in suicide prevention and healing.
- Recognise the importance of investing in children and youth:
- early intervention
- young people as a valuable resource
- role of young people as future leaders.
- Recognise additional risk and special needs of LGBTIQ+SB people – intersectionality of being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTIQ+SB.
- Importance of listening to and learning from the people with lived experience.
- Data sovereignty
- build local community capability to collect, analyse and use data for planning and evaluation of suicide prevention programs
- cultural values and understanding need to be represented in the type of data collected and the ways in which they are presented
- Australian Institute for Health and Welfare to further develop the provision of community level data and to ensure community access and capacity to use data
- all research should adopt the principles of Indigenous data sovereignty and assure ethical use of data.
- We need to address and support the mental health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people engaged in the justice and corrections systems, including post release.
- Fund a national plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention based on conference recommendations and work done by CBPATISP and ATSISPEP report.
• If you or someone you know needs help or support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24 hours-a-day), contact your local Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisation, call Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or call Q Life: 1800 184 527.
• Summer May Finlay and Marie McInerney are reporting for the Croakey Conference News Service. Bookmark this link to follow the coverage of #ATSISPC18.