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The rate of suicide among Indigenous Australians still remains twice as high as non-Indigenous Australians despite government initiatives, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Assistant Minister Emma McBride said today.
Ms. McBride announced in a speech during the Gayaa Dhuwi Australia Annual Conference that improving the mental health, social and emotional wellbeing of First Nations people is a priority for the Australian government, but “not enough has been done, and of the progress that has been made, it has not happened quickly enough.”
Contributing factors to suicide among Indigenous Australians are family breakdowns, financial insecurity, homelessness, family violence and social isolation.
“These are all areas that across our Government we are focusing on. They are front and centre,” Ms. McBride said.
Central to the government approach to suicide is partnerships and supporting local solutions that are safe, effective and significantly designed in close collaboration with communities.
Additionally, the Australian government will establish an ongoing partnership with the Glen for Women with a $3.5 million (US$2.26 million) investment.
The Glen for Women: Turning Lives Around
On August 30 2023, Ms. McBride announced the Glen for Women, a rehabilitation centre on the Central Coast of New South Wales offering holistic addiction treatment for First Nations women, will officially open with a ceremony today.
“The Glen for Women is doing fantastic work and helping to turn around the lives of First Nations women struggling with drug and alcohol use in the Central Coast community and beyond,” she said.
“The facility is an important addition to the number of beds available for women in residential rehabilitation centres and is one of the few which offer culturally safe support for First Nations women.”
Located in Darkinjung Country, the 20-bed centre offers an abstinence-based program, including group counselling, purposeful life skills, sports, cooking, personal training, parenting programs, Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and community work and education.
To help combat contributing factors to suicide, the centre helps clients deal with grief and trauma, relationships, gambling and anger management.
Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy said the Glen for Women would “go a long way in making a positive difference to the lives of women in the Central Coast region, their families and the wider community.”
Partnering with Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) (GDPSA)
In her speech, Ms. McBride said the government will also partner with Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) (GDPSA) to lead and advocate for system-wide changes to improve outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health, well-being and suicide prevention—prioritising community-led services and responses.
GDPSA Australia is the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional well-being, mental health, and suicide prevention. As a community-controlled organisation, it is governed and regulated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts and peak bodies working in these areas to promote collective excellence in mental health care.
The Commonwealth Government tasked GDPSA to renew the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy (NATSISPS).
The NATSISPS was first introduced in May 2013 and was developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts and leaders in mental health and suicide prevention. It contains six Action Areas centred around targeted suicide prevention by strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
It required renewal because although it remained a sound, evidence-based strategic response to Indigenous suicide, it also responded to circumstances that have changed since 2013, such as new policies.
Alongside the renewal, the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan (2017) (