Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray commended Governor Lowe for taking an active interest in better understanding and mitigating the impacts of RBA monetary policy decisions on the wellbeing of Australians.
This was as much about better preparation for the impact of increases in inflation and interest rates, not just pausing them.
“It was clear to me that Governor Lowe shares our common goal of softening the personal distress from tough monetary decisions that can strongly impact an individual’s life,” Ms Murray said.
“The past 12 months have seen an increase in suicide rates, not just interest rates. Australia cannot afford for this trend to continue. The nation’s economic and social wellbeing is at stake.
“The RBA’s role in addressing cost-of-life, not just cost-of-living, is more important than ever over the next 12 months after the Federal Budget this week didn’t include any investment in frontline suicide prevention services.
“I was reassured during the meeting that the RBA is genuinely committed to ongoing dialogue and exploring ways to address the human impact of economic decisions.
“While their job is to make tough decisions, I was struck by their desire to get the balance right, and ultimately protect Australians and the economy into the future.
“Every economic decision has an associated human impact that can’t be ignored. During the meeting, we provided support and guidance to the RBA around how best to safely communicate the public narrative about interest rates and the economy more broadly when we know so many are doing it tough.
“We have both committed to continuing the dialogue on this important issue and exploring ways to work together to improve the wellbeing of all Australians as we navigate ongoing economic uncertainty,” said Ms Murray.
Suicide Prevention Australia wrote to Governor Lowe in March requesting a meeting following its Community Tracker findings. The tracker showed rising interest rates had coincided with nearly half of all Australians (46%) reporting that cost-of-living and personal debt was causing them elevated distress beyond what they considered ‘normal’ levels in the March Quarter. This was up from 40% in the September 2022 Quarter.
Suicide rates also increased a combined 7% across New South Wales and Victoria in 2022, during which the RBA increased the official cash rate from 0.1% in April to 3.1% in December to tackle rising inflation.
Ms Murray said she also welcomed Governor Lowe’s meeting after the recent independent RBA review did not specifically acknowledge or address the central bank’s impacts on suicide risks and rates.
Something she was surprised by, given Treasurer Jim Chalmers – who ordered the RBA review – had made such clear statements about pursuing “values-based capitalism” and “wellbeing budgets”.
“The horse has bolted. We need immediate investment for frontline suicide prevention services right now. These services are under immense pressure to keep up with increasing demand.
“As Robodebt showed us, we need a whole-of-government approach to suicide that ensures all appropriate precautions and safety nets are taken to minimise and manage community distress before policy changes are launched. A National Suicide Prevention Act is the best way to achieve that.
“We can never underestimate the impact that every life lost to suicide has on family, friends, workplaces and the broader community.
“If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help,” 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.
Help to report about suicide safely is available online: Go to https://mindframe.org.au/
Clare Kinsella 0427 689 689 or email@example.com
Amelia Hew 0410 591 134 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Suicide Prevention Australia
Suicide Prevention Australia is the national peak body and we’ve been providing support for Australia’s suicide prevention sector for more than 30 years. We support and advocate for our members to drive continual improvement in suicide prevention policy, programs and services. Our reach is broad, including member organisations, governments, businesses, researchers, practitioners and those with lived experience. We are focused on an integrated approach to suicide prevention encompassing mental health, social, economic and community factors. We believe that through collaborative effort and shared purpose, we can achieve our vision of a world without suicide.