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Today I am in Perth meeting with my ATSISPEP (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project) colleagues participating in a review of the final evaluation report. I have been honoured to represent SPA and its members as part of this advisory committee. We stand with our friends from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in calling for immediate release of funds to implement evaluated suicide prevention programs.
At the National Suicide Prevention Conference recently, we all bore witness to the devastating effect suicide is having on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Almost 450 delegates from across the country and globe heard from SPA Ambassador and Indigenous leader Professor Tom Calma AO and Associate Professor Murray Chapman as they talked us through the rates of suicide, risk factors and, most importantly, action that needs to be taken by all of us.
Our new Director, Dr Vanessa Lee (welcome to the team Vanessa!) chaired this session and penned a thoughtful piece reflecting on the audience response for our friends at Croakey News. Read her article here 'I saw shocked faces in a state of inertia: calling all Australians to embark on a journey of suicide prevention and healing'.
We are still in the process of collating presentations and feedback from the conference to share with you but I am pleased to report that anecdotal feedback has been extremely positive so far. The SPA team prides itself on creating a safe and supportive space to exchange ideas and I believe we are improving on our service to members and delegates each and every year.
The theme of the 2016 National Suicide Prevention Conference was 'Connecting Culture Context and Capabilities. We welcomed speakers and delegates from diverse areas of expertise, cultures and communities, bringing together the suicide prevention sector for shared learning, finding opportunities for collaboration, and tackling the hard issues.
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all involved in this year's conference. Thank you to our sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, presenters and delegates. Thank you in particular to those of you who shared your lived experience of suicide to better inform prevention as well as all in attendance for embodying care and compassion for others.
I for one came back to work and my community last week with a head full of ideas, a heart full of hope and a renewed drive to deliver against our work to halve suicide in ten years.
On a personal note, many thanks also to the SPA team, Board and Conference Secretariat. It's big job - both logistically and emotionally - for a small but dyanmic team. Thank you!
Finally, mark your diaries for July next year, when we will be hosting the National Suicide Prevention Conference in Brisbane, QLD. A warmer location as requested! If you haven't already, sign up to our enews to keep up to date with 2017 conference information as it arises.