Member Update: Sydney and Canberra Member Fora Meetings

21 March 2018

As Matthew and Kim continue our listening tour with our Victorian Members today, I thought I would give you an update on Sydney and Canberra based meetings held with Associate, Lived Experience Network and Organisational Members earlier this week. Many thanks again to our friends from Macquarie Bank who kindly hosted us in both locations.

In Sydney we had a strong focus on the voice of lived experience of suicide and how Members are seeing society change in terms of talking about suicide and its prevention in public. It was so good to have Members of our Lived Experience Network joined by Organisational Members like R U OK? and batyr; combining those sharing their personal experiences to inform prevention and teams who are focused on equipping people to have conversations and smashing the stigma when it comes to opening up about your individual mental health challenges and coping strategies. 

The passion in the room expressed by those active community advocates in our Lived Experience Network mirrored the high level of engagement we saw in our national Member survey results. We have so many people personally impacted by suicide who want to do more and who, crucially, want to contribute in a way that is constructive and relevant to their experiences and prevention efforts. They want SPA to be clearer in the calls to action for them in their respective communities and, similar to representatives in most categories of membership, were very complimentary about communication they receive from SPA but are keen to make deeper and broader working connections with colleagues and communities.

"Link us into best practice resources and guidance so we don't reinvent the wheel". This feedback was consistent from those representing both organisations and community action groups. After the meeting, Kim caught up with JewishCare NSW CEO, Claire Vernon, to talk about just that as well as their community suicide prevention strategy launch coming up that night. Click on the below to listen to the interview.


JewishCare NSW CEO Claire Vernon with SPA Board Director Luke Mann.


Our next stop this week was our nation’s capital. SPA Board Director and Policy Committee Chair, Stan Piperoglou kindly hosted the ACT focused meeting with Members in Canberra, supported by me given I was already in town for a Mental Health Australia policy meeting. 

Canberra turned on its coldest morning this year for our visit. Cold it may have been but it was not enough to deter Members from attending, thank you to those who joined us for the discussion (some of the attendees are pictured below with our Director, Stan).

SPA Board Director and Policy Committee Chair Stan Piperoglou (centre) with SPA ACT Members.

Once again we heard that the issues on the ground are impacting on services ability to deliver the best quality programs possible.

Unlike other conversations where Members stressed that there is “too much planning and not enough action”, the ACT is in a different position with the last suicide prevention framework being published in 2009. Almost a decade on the world has changed, in some instance for the better, but to give the best possible support to those who are suicidal, ACT Members want to see better planned, more coordinated services with sustainable funding being made available. On this point they are in true sync with our Members right across the country.

The discussion covered the full life cycle; in particular the importance of situational factors and the implications for men accessing services (or not accessing) and how to more effectively support men in residential aged care facilities. Two new areas were raised in the discussion that are important to put on the table. The first was the need to ensure the children who live with the loss of a parent through suicide are not subject to stigmatising behaviour and the second was the need to support research into suicide among individuals who are on the autism spectrum. The need to balance service coordination and collaboration with consumer choice was also raised.

We also touched on the lack of data on the extent to which training effects workplace behavioural change, discharge planning and evaluation. Again, areas not unique to ACT. 

As always it was great for SPA to hear from our Members and the role we can play in supporting their efforts to support more Australians to live. We will update you again on Friday afternoon on completion of this round of Member meetings

Warm regards,