Message from the CEO and Chair

Photo of SPA Chair Matthew Tukaki

On reflection the past 12 months has seen remarkable progress relating to government funding for suicide prevention, political engagement and leadership. So if we were to use two words to capture 2018-19, they’d be ‘change’ and ‘momentum’. Not only has Suicide Prevention Australia experienced internal reshaping, renewed focus and strategic growth but the political landscape has also shifted. There is no doubt that suicide prevention has gained political momentum and we are determined to harness this appetite for action.

We can never underestimate the impact that every life lost to suicide has on family, friends, workplaces and the broader community. Over 10 million Australian adults are estimated to know someone who has died by suicide, and 1 in 2 young people are impacted by suicide by the time they turn 25. The latest Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows that around 8 lives are lost per day to suicide. We have a big task ahead but with perseverance and collaboration we can make a difference to the number of lives lost to suicide.

One of the most significant achievements or milestones included our focus on strengthening key government and sector relationships, laying the foundations for the launch of Suicide Prevention Australia’s 2019 National Policy Platform. After significant consultation with members and the sector in May 2019, we launched our National Policy Platform. The three policy pillars included; leadership (whole-of-government approach), reliable data and workforce strategy. Governments are listening to what we have to say and there is evidence of a shift towards a cross-portfolio approach to suicide prevention, which aligns with our call for a whole-of-government approach to suicide prevention.

It was also heartening to see suicide prevention get the attention it deserved during the 2019 Federal Budget with a $461 million investment across both youth mental health and suicide prevention strategy. It was also good to see that the announcements focused on both system architecture and service delivery for suicide prevention. One of our policy priorities include improved and coordinated data collection and retrieval. Therefore, the $15 million investment in a national information service is a significant development. It’s also important to acknowledge the bi-partisan support for suicide prevention both at a federal and state level. A united front is definitely a recipe for change and progress.

Our Annual Operating Plan 2018-19 aligns our work to deliver national leadership for the meaningful reduction of
suicide in Australia under four Strategic Pillars:

  • Policy and Advocacy
  • Quality and Innovation
  • Member and Community Engagement
  • Sustainable Foundations

This framework underpinned our work during the year to support and collaborate with members, and advocate on behalf of the sector and all Australians.

We exist to support and strengthen our members in the delivery of services and programs for suicide prevention. In saying that, we are proud of the progress each and every one of our members has made over the year. The collective achievements of our 260+ members drives change and saves lives.

Bringing members together is very important. One initiative that does this is the inaugural Suicide Prevention Australia State Committee meetings in South Australia and Queensland. This 12-month pilot program is being trialed in both states. The Committees are focused on sharing suicide prevention information, facilitating discussions of statespecific suicide prevention service delivery and policy matters; and acting as a conduit to Suicide Prevention Australia about current and emerging suicide prevention issues. Our vision is to expand this program across the country to capture valuable insights from our membership network to help inform our suicide prevention strategy.

We also launched The Suicide Prevention Hub; best practice programs and services and committed $2.3 million in funding from the National Suicide Prevention Research Fund. We are proud to have achieved widespread sector recognition as the manager of the National Suicide Prevention Research Fund. In addition, we enhanced our membership structure and offering which has been received well with membership growth reaching over 260.

The new website was launched and it now presents a robust collection of important sector information and progress

Based in Melbourne, the National Suicide Prevention Conference 2019 attracted more than 650 delegates. Former Prime Minister, Hon. Julia Gillard AC delivered the Diego de Leo Opening Address looking at why prevention, early intervention and new models of care can reduce the pressure on Australia’s mental health system. There were 130 presentations and 34 bursary recipients. The delegate feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Delivering national leadership in suicide prevention is a team effort. Both of us would like to acknowledge everyone who contributed to our work in 2018-19; Board Directors, our leadership team and employees, our members, our Patron and everyone who volunteered, fundraised, donated, or supported us in other ways. A special mention and thank you to outgoing Chair, Matthew Tukaki for his guidance and leadership.

In reporting our performance in 2018-19 we’d like to acknowledge all those who lost their lives or were impacted by suicide during that time. It’s for you that we come to work each day, resolute in our purpose and inspired by our vision for a world without suicide.

We look forward to continuing to work together in 2019-20 towards our shared vision.

Year at a Glance

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Our Financials