Member Update: Brisbane and Darwin Member Fora Meetings

19 March 2018

I had the pleasure of joining Suicide Prevention Australia Chair, Matthew Tukaki, at the Brisbane Member meeting kindly hosted by our friends Macquarie Bank this week. It was great to meet such a diverse group of Members in the room, particularly in terms of the size and scope of the organisations represented.

I know from my role on the Brisbane North PHN Suicide Prevention Advisory Group and the wider work of SPA Members based in QLD that there is a lot of passion and investment in this State.

The issues discussed were not dissimilar to last week’s Member meetings with funding for evaluation and much needed capacity building for service suppliers to enable in-house evaluation being at the forefront of a number of our Members’ minds. This is consistent with discussions SPA is having with the Research Advisory Committee members and The Suicide Prevention Hub advisors.

Another point I heard loud and clear was concern that in promoting the social determinants of suicide we, as a sector, are at risk of stigmatising mental illness if we are not careful and consistent in our messaging. There was a clear desire by the group to have SPA support development of a more cohesive narrative in relation to this, something I know other Members who have a focus on living well with mental illness have also raised.

In terms of social determinants, we also talked quite a bit about men and young men when it comes to suicide prevention; with a number of organisations focusing on partnerships with employment bodies for example, as a way to assist young men with challenges in their life. Here is a photo of Matthew talking with Sam from yourtown about that very topic.

Following this meeting, Matthew and I met with QLD Health Minister Steven Miles’ Office as well as the team at the Queensland Mental Health Commission to update them on the insights shared by our Members, both in person and online via the survey; as well as hear about their current and future priorities in suicide prevention.

After our Brisbane Forum, I said goodbye to Matthew who boarded a plane to meet Sue in Darwin. The photo below is some of the Members Matthew and Sue met with yesterday. 

Understandably in Darwin there was a big focus in discussions about supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention. This was particularly timely given Close the Gap Day yesterday.

Similar to other meetings we have had the call for better linkages and collaboration among those who are delivering services. The challenges of navigating the system for those who find themselves caught in the web of suicide and suicidal behaviour is beyond most people. The limited access to services particularly for young adults who may not qualify for some of the local services is a concern or those who fall outside the 100km radius for a service.

“Give us a one stop shop’, we heard, “a place to go where we can be directed to the right service for the right person when and where it is needed, a clear pathway to help local people.”

Training was another repeated issue. How can we effectively support communities without having people skilled in suicide prevention particularly for priority population groups?

Thank you to everyone who participated this week as well as to those who couldn’t physically be at the meeting and completed the online Member survey.

It’s a big week next week with Member meetings in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Hobart! Look forward to seeing many more of you in person at those meetings.

Thank you again and good weekends all,