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NSPC 2017

  • National Suicide Prevention Conference Australia 2017
  • National Suicide Prevention Conference Australia 2017
  • National Suicide Prevention Conference Australia 2017
  • National Suicide Prevention Conference Australia 2017


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Morning Workshops

Date: Wednesday 26 July 2017
Time: 10.30am – 1.30pm
Venue: Sofitel Brisbane Central
Cost: $150 each (inclusive of GST)

Workshop A: PHN Suicide Prevention Programs – Research, Engagement, and Decision Making

Stephen Holland
Head of Policy & Member Engagement, Suicide Prevention Australia

The 5th National Mental Health Plan includes a commitment to a national suicide prevention plan. The plan will set the framework for a coordinated approach to suicide prevention, with PHNs playing a central role in delivering outcomes for the community. This forum builds on the successful SPA Knowledge Exchange Workshop last year, and will examine how SPA members can support PHNs in working to meaningfully reduce suicide in Australia.

Workshop B: Supporting Suicide Prevention through Good Communication Planning

Jaelea Skehan, Marc Bryant, Sara Bartlett & Melinda Benson
Hunter Institute of Mental Health
Kim Borrowdale
Deputy CEO / Head of Communications, Suicide Prevention Australia

This workshop run by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health is designed for people planning and contributing to regional and community suicide prevention planning and action. It will draw together key evidence, resources and planning tools to support participants to:

The workshop will involve presentations, group discussions and facilitated activities as well as an opportunity to provide feedback on the resources local communities need to support their communication activities.

Workshop C: The Power of Storytelling with a Purpose

Tracy McCown
Manager, Lived Experience Network, Suicide Prevention Australia

Storytelling can positively and meaningfully change the community’s negative attitudes and behaviours that discriminate against individuals and cause barriers to accessing the care and support that all people deserve. This workshop will explore how the words we select have the power to positively influence discussions and the importance of considering our own well-being as well as that of the audience. We invite community members who have had suicidal thoughts, have attempted suicide, have been a carer for someone who was suicidal, is bereaved by suicide, or identifies as having been touched by suicide in some other way. We warmly invite our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members as well as those from a culturally and linguistically diverse background and our LGBTIQ community members.

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Workshop D: Implementing a Zero Suicide Framework in a large Australian Metropolitan Mental Health Service

Dr Kathryn Turner
Clinical Director Gold Coast Mental Health & Specialist Service
Mr Matthew Welch
Clinical Nurse Consultant Suicide Prevention Gold Coast Mental Health & Specialist Service
Professor Chris Stapelberg
Gold Coast Mental Health & Specialist Service Clinical Director of Research
Dr Sarah Walker
Psychologist Gold Coast Mental Health & Specialist Service

The Gold Coast Mental Health and Specialist Service (GCMHSS) is committed to reducing suicide of consumers in our care. This commitment has seen the development of an innovative approach to suicide prevention across the GCMHSS. In December 2016 The GCMHSS implemented a system wide Zero Suicide framework, one of the first of its kind for a public mental health service in Australia. The Zero Suicide approach is based on the realisation that suicidal individuals often ‘fall through the cracks’ in a sometimes fragmented health care system and will aim to assist in building relationships and enhance the resilience of individuals.

The GCMHSS will present a series of workshops focused on the implementing a Zero Suicide Framework highlighting key elements in approach. The presenters will set the scene with a presentation titled: “Why Zero Why now?”. This will address identifying the challenges often faced by many health services across the country in relation to culture and attitudes to suicide, and how they are being addressed in the GCMHSS by introducing a Zero Suicide Framework.

A key feature of the Zero Suicide approach includes the development and implementation of the GCMHSS suicide prevention pathway. The presenters will discuss this innovative 6 step approach to suicide prevention, highlighting the essential elements and tools required in relation to the assessment and management of acute suicide risk in a public health service. A key element of the Suicide Prevention Pathway is the utilisation of a new risk formulation as an alternative to risk catagorisation and predication towards a process that actively seeks to build meaningful collaborative relationships with consumers and families to prevent suicide.

The workshops will conclude with a talk around the preliminary quantitative evaluation data from the first 6 months of implementation. An essential component of summarising "the Journey so far" will be to highlight the "voice of the Consumers". We will present consumer views and experiences of the GCMHSS Suicide Prevention Pathway as well as how the values and attitudes of staff have changed in relation to suicide since implementation. The presenters will round off the symposium presentations by addressing the next steps, our vision for the future of Zero Suicide in our service.

Afternoon Workshops

Date: Wednesday 26 July 2017
Time: 2.00pm – 5.00pm
Venue: Sofitel Brisbane Central
Cost: $150 each (inclusive of GST)

Workshop E: An Enhanced Psychological Autopsy Approach Towards Examining Suicide and Supporting Families Bereaved by Suicide

Professor Ella Arensman
Director of Research, National Suicide Research Foundation
Research Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College Cork, Ireland President, International Association for Suicide Prevention

This workshop will provide a training opportunity for researchers and health professionals to update their knowledge and skills in conducting psychological autopsy research as a structural component of suicide surveillance and determining priorities for suicide prevention.

Psychological autopsy refers to a procedure for investigating a person’s death by reconstructing what the person’s situation, thoughts, feeling and behaviours before death, based on systematically obtaining information from medical and coroner’s records, police reports, personal information, and interviews with family members and friends who were closely linked to the deceased. A key component of the enhanced psychological autopsy approach is to systematically collect information from multiple sources, which can be verified and representative of a standardised suicide surveillance system. This provides clarity for research and analysis of data pertaining to individual cases of suicide and sudden untimely death, thus minimising potential for interpretative bias. The enhanced psychological autopsy approach was developed as part of the Suicide Support and Information System(SSIS) (Arensman et al, 2016; 2013; 2012). The SSIS is innovative as it was developed to prevent suicide by pro-actively facilitating access to support for the bereaved while at the same time obtaining information on risk factors associated with suicide and deaths classified as open verdicts using a systematic and standardised procedure.

Workshop F: Addressing Repetitive Intrusive Unstoppable Suicidal Thoughts and Images

Professor Ad Kerkhof
Professor of Clinical Psychology, Psychopathology and Suicide Prevention Vrije University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

One of the essential structural components of the suicidal process is the intrusive and repetitive nature of suicidal ideation, plans, fantasies, suicidal worries and rumination, and suicidal imagery. This workshop will discuss ways of directly addressing these dynamics of the suicidal process in depressed patients / callers, particularly ways of targeting repetitive intrusive uncontrollable and unstoppable thoughts (e.g. about perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness), and intrusive suicidal ideation, planning, and imagery. The workshop is meant for practitioners who want to increase their powers to deal with suicidal crises. Participants will be given the opportunity to practice new skills using their own suicidal patients in role playing. The workshop will be instructive for clinicians (CBT psychotherapists), social workers, researchers, as well as for staff of helplines.

Workshop G: The Interpersonal Theory of Suicide: Current Evidence Base and Clinical Applications

Dr. Kim Van Orden
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York, USA

The interpersonal theory of suicide is a contemporary theory that aims to provide an understanding of why people die by suicide. The theory proposes that a desire for suicide (often operationalised as suicide ideation) is caused by feeling that one does not belong to caring and supportive relationships/groups (thwarted belonging) and perceiving (usually incorrectly) that one is a burden on others and that others would be better off if one were dead (perceived burden). Thus, targeting thwarted belonging, perceived burden, and capability for suicide, could inform treatment and prevention strategies for suicide. This workshop will provide attendees with an overview of the interpersonal theory of suicide, including the current state of its evidence base, as well as theory-guided and empirically-based best practices for clinical work with suicidal patients, emphasising risk assessment and crisis management. Presentation of material will be complemented with handouts, clinical demonstrations, videos, and experiential exercises.

Additional Workshops

Workshop H: SANE Australia Mental Illness and Suicide Prevention

Date: Tuesday 25 July 2017 (Please note, this is the day BEFORE the other pre-conference workshops)
Time: 9.30am – 4.00pm
Venue: Sofitel Brisbane Central
Cost: $190 - This training is a special offer, discounted from the usual $385, for delegates of the National Suicide Prevention Conference.

SPA have partnered with SANE Australia to deliver a full-day Mental Illness and Suicide Prevention Workshop for SPA delegates, on Tuesday 25th July.

SANE's Mental Illness and Suicide Prevention workshop has been well-received by the Victorian community with over 500 professionals registering since September. Built on SANE’s Suicide Prevention and Recovery Guide, this non-clinical training encourages health professionals to reflect on their role in suicide prevention and explore recovery principles and obstacles many health professionals experience.

Areas covered include supporting people who are suicidal from a recovery approach, responding to those bereaved by suicide, working with families, and putting the consumer at the centre of care.

"This was one of the best workshops I have attended. The use of group activities and the short video clips was remarkable. The discussions were stimulating and informative. It was an extremely well spent day"

Who should attend?

Mental health workers: case-workers, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, counsellors, peer-workers, social workers, youth workers and students.

Workshop I: Offsite Tour of the yourtown Facilities and Kids Helpline Call Centre

Date: Wednesday 26 July 2017
Time: 9.00am – 10.30am, in time for the other pre-conference workshops
Venue: Departing from Sofitel Brisbane Central
Cost: $45

Kids Helpline is Australia's only free, private and confidential, phone counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25. Delegates will be transported to Kids Helpline's Counselling Centre where they will be provided with a brief presentation of Kids Helpline's services and the role it plays in suicide prevention for Australia's youth. Following the presentation, delegates will be taken for an in-depth tour of Kids Helpline's Counselling Centre to see first-hand the role it is playing to support children and young people on a daily basis.

Workshop J: Mental Health First Aid for the Suicidal Person

Date: Wednesday 26 July 2017
Time: 10.00am – 1.30pm
Venue: Sofitel Brisbane Central
Cost: $150

Fiona Blee
Adults Programs Manager, Mental Health First Aid Australia

The Mental Health First Aid for the Suicidal Person Course is a new specialised course based on revised Mental Health First Aid Guidelines for Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviours, developed via the Delphi method based on the expertise of professionals and consumers from English speaking developed countries. This course teaches skills to members of the public, rather than mental health professionals. Participants in this course will experience the following learning outcomes:

This course is not a post-vention course and is not recommended for individuals recently bereaved by suicide. It is important that people undertaking the course are feeling relatively robust when they undertake it.

Lived Experience Session: Building Resilience & Reflection Ceremony

Date: Wednesday 26 July 2017
Time: 5.30pm – 6.30pm
Venue: Sofitel Brisbane Central

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Professor Ella Arensman

Sponsored By
Sponsored by the Ian Potter Foundation

Professor Ella Arensman
Director of Research, National Suicide Research Foundation
Research Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College Cork, Ireland
President, International Association for Suicide Prevention

Professor Ella Arensman is Director of Research with the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF) and Research Professor with the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College Cork, Ireland. She is President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) with members in more than 70 countries. She is Vice President of the European Alliance Against Depression. She has been involved in research and prevention into suicide and self-harm for 30 years, with emphasis on risk and protective factors associated with suicide and self-harm and effectiveness of suicide prevention and self-harm intervention programmes. In addition to more than 100 papers published in peer review journals, she has published numerous reports for government departments, health and community services.

She serves on various national and international scientific committees and she is an expert advisor for WHO with involvement in advisory boards and delegations, such as South Korea, Egypt and Afghanistan. She encourages international collaboration in suicide prevention and research by bridging the gap between researchers and policymakers in order to strengthen the implementation of national suicide prevention programmes.

Summer May Finlay

Summer May Finlay
PhD Candidate
South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute and University of South Australia

Summer is a Yorta Yorta Woman who grew up in Lake Macquarie near Newcastle. She specialises in health policy, qualitative research and communications. She has worked in Aboriginal affairs at the National level and has strong professional connections across the country in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service sector.

Summer is currently self employed as a researcher and communications consultant, while undertaking a PhD at the University of South Australia. She is also a contributing editor for With the Croakey team she was one of the authors of the book #JustJustice- Tackling the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Summer is an avid tweeter whose handle is @OnTopicAus.

She is currently the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Special Interest Coordinator for the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and was previously the Acting Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Vice President for the PHAA. She is also a member of the recently established World Federation of Public Health Associations Indigenous Working Group. Summer has a Bachelor of Social Science from Macquarie University, a Master of Public Health Advance from the University of Wollongong and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Tanja Hirvonen

Tanja Hirvonen MAPS MPsych(Clin)
Mental Health Academic Centre for Remote Health, a joint centre of Flinders University and Charles Darwin University
Flinders Northern Territory

Tanja Hirvonen is a Jaru and Bunuba woman, and grew up in North West Queensland, Mount Isa. Tanja Hirvonen is a registered psychologist and clinical psychologist registrar who specialises in social and emotional wellbeing, health professionals self-care and trauma. Her Masters dissertation (2015) is based on the stigma of suicide. Tanja brings extensive experience in intergenerational trauma, suicide prevention and working in rural and remote areas. Tanja is passionate about working in an evidence based and culturally sound ways to make a difference to the health and wellbeing of all people. Tanja also serves on the Australian Indigenous Psychology Association steering committee and also on the Rural, Remote and Regional Advisory Board that provides advice to the Australian Psychological Society. Tanja has extensive community connections within the Northern Territory and Queensland having worked as a clinician for nearly six years. From working in the areas of trauma, Tanja felt that attention should be attributed to the health personnel or general staff who work in rewarding, but at times challenging roles.

Professor Ad Kerkhof

Sponsored By
lifeline saving lives and service line

Professor Ad Kerkhof
Professor of Clinical Psychology, Psychopathology and Suicide Prevention Vrije University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Ad Kerkhof (1952) has a track record of over 30 years of research into suicide and suicide prevention. He was particularly interested in the delivery of health care to suicidal patients, such as the management of suicide attempters in general hospitals, the implementation of evidence based guidelines for the assessment and treatment of suicidal behavior in health care, and the training of mental health care staff into suicide prevention skills, etc. Currently he is involved in developing a mobile phone based safety plan for depressed and suicidal patients who receive treatment, and in testing a EMDR treatment for suicidal flash forwards, frequently observed in the presuicidal syndrome phase. He recently published a Dutch screening instrument for suicide risk among adolescents, taking into consideration youth from divers cultural backgrounds. He was involved in the development and testing of an online intervention for suicidal thinking, in The Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium, and in Australia under the name of Healthy Thinking, by Bregje van Spijker and Helen Christensen. Ad Kerkhof also is an experienced clinician treating suicidal patients with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and he also helps survivors of suicide.

Emeritus Professor Graham Martin

Professor Graham Martin
Royal Brisbane Clinical Unit
Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland

Professor Graham Martin is a clinician, academic, researcher and media commentator, dedicated to suicide prevention since 1987. He was a member of the Australian Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy & Evaluation Working Group (1994-99), writing team for the Australian Suicide Prevention Strategy (2000 & 2007), the National Advisory Council for Suicide Prevention (2003-8), and a National Advisor to the Australian Government (2009-13).

Graham was Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) chairman (1995-2001), convening 6 national suicide prevention conferences. A Life Member of SPA (2004), he was awarded the ‘Lifetime Contribution to Suicide Prevention Research’ in 2008, and the ‘Lifetime Contribution to Suicide Prevention’ in 2014. Graham was awarded an RANZCP ‘College Citation’ for 40 years of contribution to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in 2015.

Graham has successfully supervised 15 completed PHD/Masters studies, as well as 25 honours students. He has published over 200 collaborative scientific papers, chapters, and editorials as well as 60 books, reports & teaching manuals.

Graham has had the opportunity to develop a large number of national and state suicide prevention programs. As an originator of the Auseinet program (1997-2009), he was Founding Editor for the journal Advances in Mental Health until 2014.

Dr. Kim Van Orden

Sponsored by
mates in construction

Dr. Kim Van Orden
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York, USA

Kim Van Orden, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. She received her PhD in 2009 from Florida State University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Rochester. Her research and clinical interests are in the promotion of social connectedness to prevent late-life suicide. She has published extensively on the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide, which she helped co-develop, refine, and test. She is co-author of the book, The Interpersonal Theory of Suicide: Guidance for Working with Suicidal Clients. Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kim also maintains an active clinical practice providing evidence-based psychotherapy to older adults.

june oscar

June Oscar AO
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

The Australian Human Rights Commission is pleased to welcome June Oscar AO as the incoming Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

Ms Oscar, a proud Bunuba woman from Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia, has devoted her career to improving the health and welfare of Indigenous people, particularly those living in remote areas.

Ms Oscar is well known for leading a successful campaign in the Kimberley region to restrict alcohol in a bid to curb Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder as well as violence, crime, injury and death.

“My colleagues and I at the Commission are delighted that, for the first time, an Indigenous woman has been officially appointed to become the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,” said Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs.

“I would also like to thank the outstanding work of Robynne Quiggin, who has been Deputy Commissioner to the Acting Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner since Mick Gooda stepped down in 2016.”

JMs Oscar will commence her five-year term from April 3, 2017.

LiFE Awards

The Annual LiFE Awards recognise excellence in suicide prevention and are presented at the National Suicide Prevention Conference. The LiFE Awards are a prestigious national event that attract nominations from all areas including business, industry, media, community, government – all with an interest in suicide prevention. Nominations are received from all over Australia, and every year we are overwhelmed with the number of quality nominations received showcasing the exciting, innovative and diverse range of programs being undertaken within the field.

Nominees typically range from mainstream programs to local ‘grass roots’ organisations and dedicated individuals. The Awards celebrate the commitment and energy of the nominees and their vital contribution to the reduction of suicide within our communities.

In 2017 Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) celebrates the 15th Annual LiFE Awards recognising excellence in suicide prevention. Click here to nominate an individual or organisation for a LiFE Award today!

Social Program

Welcome Reception

Date: Thursday 27 July 2017
Time: 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Venue: Sofitel Brisbane Central
Cost: Included in Full Registration

This function will provide the perfect opportunity for delegates to catch up with colleagues, renew past connections and make new contacts in a relaxed atmosphere.

Conference Dinner & LiFE Awards

Date: Friday 28 July 2017
Time: 6.30pm - 10.30pm
Venue: Sofitel Brisbane Central
Cost: Included in Full Registration

This evening is the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with other Conference delegates, whilst being entertained, wined and dined - a night not to be missed!

Suicide Prevention Australia remembers those we have lost to suicide and acknowledges the suffering suicide brings when it touches our lives. We are brought together by experience and unified by hope.