Suicide prevention gets the attention it deserves during the Federal Budget
Wednesday 3 April 2019
In the 2019-20 Budget the Federal Government committed to a major investment in suicide prevention.
Suicide Prevention Australia welcomes the $461 million investment in youth mental health and suicide prevention strategy.
The Prime Minister will appoint a Suicide Prevention Special Adviser within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, demonstrating a significant shift towards a cross-portfolio approach to suicide prevention.
Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO, Nieves Murray said, “This is a major step forward. A whole-of-government approach to suicide prevention is aligned with our national policy platform.
“Global evidence shows a fragmented and mental illness-specific approach doesn’t work. An integrated approach to suicide prevention encompassing mental health, social, economic and community is the best evidence-based solution.
“Structural change is essential to elevate suicide prevention to a cross-portfolio focus. It’s time to concentrate on the link between suicidality and the social determinants of health as suicide prevention is more than a mental health issue,” said Ms Murray.
Suicide Prevention Australia’s policy priorities include improved and coordinated data collection and retrieval. Therefore, the $15 million investment in a national information service is a significant development. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the National Mental Health Commission and the Department of Health will work together to link existing data collections – such as from ambulance crews and hospital emergency departments – to deliver a complete up-to-date national view of the prevalence of suicide and self-harm.
“We are pleased that the budget announcements focused on both system architecture and service delivery for suicide prevention.
“The government’s commitment to the sector is very encouraging, however, there is an opportunity to build on these foundation steps by developing a workforce strategy,” said Ms Murray.
Comprehensive planning for the current and future suicide prevention workforce needed to properly meet demand for suicide prevention, early intervention and response to people in distress is critical. Better resourcing the suicide prevention workforce is a priority.
Overall, the Government has invested $736 million in mental health services in the 2019-20 Budget.
We are encouraged to see that the budget included funding for Suicide Prevention Australia Members including:
- MATES In Construction
- Roses in the Ocean
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) – The AIHW will receive $15 million over the next three years to enhance the collection of data on self-harm and suicide.
- The Government will establish a new national system for collection and coordination of information on suicide and self-harm. By continuously bringing together regional and demographically-specific information on the incidence of suicide and suicidal behaviour, this system will ensure that governments and communities will be able to rapidly deliver the right type of services when and where they are needed most in order to prevent suicides and suicide clusters. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the National Mental Health Commission and the Department of Health will work together to link existing data.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Initiatives – The Government has committed $5 million over the forward estimates ($1.3 million per year) for Indigenous Suicide Prevention Initiatives. This will see local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders provide support which meets the particular needs of their communities. Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said this initiative would help to address the high rates of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.
- Early Psychosis Youth Services – As part of an existing initiative, the Budget contains $109.7 million to expand the Early Psychosis Youth Services Program. This program will run for an additional two years (2019-20 and 2020-21) and assist young people who require access to specialised medical services.
- National headspace Network – The Government will commit $263 million as part of a seven-year program to expand the headspace network. This includes $152 million to reduce waiting times for headspace services and $111.3 million to provide additional service locations, with a goal to establish 145 services throughout Australia by 2021.
- Natural Disaster Assistance – The Government will spend $5.5 million (commencing 2018-19) over four years for mental health services in communities effected by natural disasters. This will include a new Medicare item for General Practitioners to provide telehealth services in flood-affected communities until 30 June 2019.
- Perinatal Mental Health and Wellbeing – The Government has committed $26.3 million over five years (commencing 2018-19) for a program to address perinatal mental health. This is part of a broader seven-year program (valued at $43.9 million) to support mental health of new and expecting parents through support and treatment service and community awareness programs.
To get help 24/7, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, phone 000 for emergency services.
- The preliminary Causes of Death data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed a total of 3,128 people died by suicide in 2017: 2,348 males and 780 females. That’s over 8 deaths by suicide every day.
- The annual number of deaths by suicide has been increasing over the past two decades.
- Every year it is estimated that over 65,000 Australians make a suicide attempt; this translates to more than 180 every day.
About Suicide Prevention Australia
Suicide Prevention Australia is the national peak body for those working in suicide prevention, engaging with Member organisations, governments, businesses, researchers, practitioners and those with lived experience, seeking to reduce the impact of suicide on the community.
We’ve been providing national support for Australia’s suicide prevention sector for more than 25 years. As the national peak body our role is to support, facilitate collaboration and advocate for the suicide prevention sector. We support our Members to build a stronger suicide prevention sector.
We’re committed to driving continual improvement in suicide prevention policy, programs and services to achieve better outcomes for all Australians. We advocate for a whole-of-government approach to reducing suicide. We are focused on an integrated approach to suicide prevention encompassing mental health, social, economic and community factors.
i: ‘Causes of Death’, 26 Sep 2018, Australian Bureau of Statistics, http://www.abs.gov.au/Causes-of-Death
ii: Mental Health of Australians Report: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-pubs-m-mhaust2-toc~mental-pubs-m-mhaust2-8~mental-pubs-m-mhaust2-8-1