Poche Centre for Indigenous Health

Summit on suicide

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are dying at twice the rate of other Australians from suicide, and among younger age groups the rate can be six times higher. In some communities, suicide clusters involving up to 20-plus deaths in a short time-frame take a terrible toll not only in terms of wasted lives, but also devastate communities and those left behind. “It’s time that this terrible ‘gap’ is closed, once and for all,” said one of the summit conveners, UWA’s Professor Pat Dudgeon.

Next week in Perth, three key events are planned over 23 – 24 June at the Nedlands Yacht Club that have the potential to help turn things around. UWA’s Poche Centre is co-sponsoring the linked events and is flying distinguished Elder Lorna Hudson OAM from Derby to be present.

  1. The first is a two-day Roundtable at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, youth leaders, health professionals, academics, social justice campaigners and government representatives will meet for a ‘third conversation’ with Professor Michael Chandler, a noted expert in suicide prevention among people in Canadian First Nations. This will provide a forum to discuss solutions in Australia being led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the importance of culture and self-determination in suicide prevention.
    Lorna Hudson and some of the other 29 Elders from Cape York to the Kimberley who contributed to the landmark Elders’ Report into Preventing Indigenous Self-Harm and Youth Suicide will attend the roundtable. In his Report foreword, ATSI Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda wrote that what makes the Report different “is that the solutions come from the people”. https://bepartofthehealing.org/EldersReport.pdf
  1. During the Roundtable the second edition of the ground-breaking book Working Together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing, Principles and Practice will be launched. This excellent resource for all those who work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention is edited by UWA’s Professor Pat Dudgeon – the first Aboriginal psychologist – Professor Helen Milroy – the first Aboriginal psychiatrist – and Associate Professor Roz Walker from the Telethon Kids Institute, UWA.
  2. Finally, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Group in Mental Health is being launched. The body has coalesced around a core group of senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people based in, or associated with, the Australian mental health commissions. The emergence of this leadership group signals a new era in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in the areas of mental health and suicide prevention.
Invitation for the media to meet the Elders, youth leaders, health professionals, academics and other delegates at The Third Conversation: Has Anything Changed?  Indigenous Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Roundtable hosted by the Centre for Research Excellence in Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing, Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western Australia’s School of Indigenous Studies, the Poche Centre, and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health group.
10am Tuesday 24 June
Nedlands Yacht Club, The Esplanade, Nedlands, WA
Media reference:
Professor Pat Dudgeon (UWA School of Indigenous Studies)
(+61 8)  6488 6927  /  (+61 4) 22 615 003

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