Member Update: Melbourne and Hobart Member Fora Meetings

23 March 2018

This week I supported our Chair, Matthew Tukaki, to host the Member breakfast in Melbourne with Sue Murray taking the lead on the Hobart roundtable meeting.

Thursday morning saw us do our final Macquarie Bank visit for the Fora series. Thanks Macquarie!

Similar to other State/Territory based feedback, our Victorian Members want to see more support for SPA’s coordination and integration role – from being the communication hub for “what’s happening in prevention at a national and regional level, to facilitating cross sector working groups on issues like joint public campaigning or training provider collaboration. It was recognised that resourcing and expertise needed to be ramped up in order to meet the collective and diverse needs of our increasing membership.

Some of the topics we discussed – similar to other locations – was the need to have a non-competitive narrative when it comes to mental illness and the social determinants of suicide, the desire of Lived Experience Network Members to be better utilised in prevention, particularly when it comes to sharing expertise beyond telling their story.

We heard support for a regional approach to suicide prevention through Primary Health Networks coupled with reporting frustration due to funding models and the continued call for evaluation capacity building.

PICTURED: SPA Chair Matthew Tukaki and SPA Director Angela Emslie with batyr team members Steph and Benita.

It might be small in size (WA told us it is 40 times the size of Tassie) but Tasmania is big on action for suicide prevention as we found out from our Member meeting today, kindly hosted by our Member Relationships Australia Tasmania.

As convenors of the Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Community Network (TSPCN) they have worked continuously to bring all those interested in suicide prevention together to plan for and coordinate activities across the State. Established in 2012 the TSPCN has more than 110 members who meet quarterly to determine how they can best work together to maximise the use of their scarce resources and draw on the skills and expertise across the membership.

While other meetings have raised the need for better planning and coordination, Tasmania already has in place a suicide prevention strategy, a specific youth suicide prevention plan and a workforce development plan. They also have the advantage of having one PHN for the State which has facilitated collaboration between Commonwealth & State Governments as well as with the community sector. What they have in common with all other States and Territories is the need to have sustainable funding, not for three years, but for 10 years so that the opportunity to build on current successes can be more readily shared.

The desire by Members of the Lived Experience Network (LEN) to be more actively engaged, was reflected in the Tasmanian discussion too. The need to increase opportunities to speak in communities and open the conversations was expressed in this meeting, which helped to reinforce the TSPCN’s plans to establish a state based LEN to be able to support SPA’s work at the national level.

As in other Member discussions concerns were expressed at the level of support for those leaving the hospital systems. If the person has attempted suicide they are able to receive follow up, however such services are not available to those who present with suicidal ideation or who are not admitted into the hospital system. More needs to be done to support those working in hospital systems to have confidence to manage suicidality and to be more effectively linked into community services.

The importance of designing gender based services that are relevant and accessible to varying needs was raised as well as the need to address older Australians and to not accept that depression and suicide are part of the ageing process.

Click below to have a listen to Sue’s interview following the meeting with Rural Alive and Well (RAW) CEO Liz Little.

It has been an interesting and very worthwhile series of meetings. Not only do we better understand some of the critical issues within States and Territories but we also have heard many similarities that SPA can get behind and support with both advocacy and better coordination.

Thank you to all our Members who have provided input into the survey and the Member meetings. The SPA Board will receive a report on the meetings next week and this in turn will inform their discussions on the plans for the coming year as we continue to keep our longer term strategic focus on quality improvement.

As Matthew said in each meeting, these are conversations that should be happening all year round, in metro, rural and regional areas, so please get in touch anytime with comments, concerns or ideas. Here is a link to our team members, a little about their role and their direct contact information.

Many thanks again for all you do!