The national peak body for suicide prevention welcomes the Federal Government’s fiscal measures announced in the budget tonight but warns of ongoing severe stress and suicidal risk caused by financial hardship.
Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray said, “We welcome the Federal Government’s announcement regarding targeted spending to help increase the number of jobs and boost infrastructure investment.
“While there is no ‘new money’ for suicide prevention and mental health, the Budget tackles the upstream factors that the evidence tells us link with distress. Factors like unemployment, financial security and social isolation have been heightened by COVID-19 and the consequent recession.
“That’s why we were heartened to see the Federal Government’s JobMaker Economic Recovery plan, which involves a comprehensive suite of measures designed to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, build skills and increase business confidence.
“The $4 billion hiring credit program will support young people who are at risk of distress due to struggling to find secure work.
“The two extra cash payments for welfare recipients are also welcome, although we call on the Federal Government to consider raising the base rate of JobSeeker in the longer term.
“We know there is a strong association between economic recession and increasing distress, particularly in high-income nations, therefore we need to assess the impact of removing the coronavirus supplement before it’s due to end.
“Suicide Prevention Australia and the community awaits the release of the Productivity Commission’s mental health final report and the interim report into suicide prevention. These reports, which have been sitting with Government for some time must be released urgently and subsequently acted upon swiftly.
“The Federal Government’s investment in suicide prevention to date has been welcome and necessary but we have no time to lose in making further, smart and timely decisions that will make a meaningful difference to the lives of people living across our communities.
“We call on the Federal Government to support National Suicide Prevention Adviser, Christine Morgan, to deliver the systemic reform needed to broker a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention in Australia.
“The Federal Government has taken a holistic approach in its response to the economic and social challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This approach needs to be applied to suicide prevention,” said Ms Murray.
There’s still more to be done and the Federal Government needs to harness the progress made to date through long term reform and by addressing the root causes of distress. This should include:
- Fund a permanent system to support a whole of government approach to suicide prevention and continue the work of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser after December, including a National Suicide Prevention Office supported by a suicide prevention act
- Fund a suicide prevention workforce strategy and implementation plan
- Co-fund a national, universal aftercare program providing a minimum of three months of personalised support after a suicide attempt
- Extending the National Suicide Prevention Research Fund for a further three years
- Continuing JobKeeper past March 2021
- Increasing the base rate of JobSeeker (NewStart)
“We can never underestimate the impact that every life lost to suicide has on family, friends, workplaces and the broader community,” said Ms Murray.
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.
Clare Kinsella 0427 689 689 firstname.lastname@example.org
Michaela Weston 0403 483 023