Upskilling workforce key to driving down suicide rates
Suicide Prevention Australia has welcomed the joint announcement by the Commonwealth and NSW Government to address regional workforce and mental health issues, while calling for a broader focus on upskilling the suicide prevention workforce as a whole.
On Friday 13 December 2019 the Commonwealth and NSW Governments held a bilateral forum in Wagga Wagga to investigate strategies to broaden rural and regional communities’ access to critical health and mental health services.
Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said, “People living in rural and remote communities need access to support for mental health and wellbeing, especially when they’re under pressure from drought, bushfires and recovering from floods.”
“We know farmers, in particular, experience significant drought related stress and research shows this can increase their risk of suicide.
“We’re pleased to see the Commonwealth and NSW Governments’ working with rural and regional communities to come up with ways to broaden access to health and mental health services. It’s a step in the right direction.
“At the same time, Suicide Prevention Australia has long called on Government to stop treating suicide as a public health crisis and start making it an issue for the whole community to solve.
“That’s why we need to see the Governments direct their efforts at tailoring the right training to every part of the suicide prevention workforce – not just the clinical workforce,” Ms Murray said.
“It’s essential to consider the training needs of the skilled, non-clinical workforce including peer workers bringing their lived experience into a suicide prevention or mental health support setting, emergency first responders, counsellors and social workers.
“Just as importantly, an effective workforce strategy must meet the training needs of the informal suicide prevention workforce. This includes volunteers, Government Departments, employer groups and other touchpoints where people who may be at risk of suicide interface. This may include for example financial counsellors, pharmacy employees or community groups.
“With the appointment of a National Suicide Prevention Adviser and the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into the Mental Health system underway, we have an unmissable opportunity to get the system right and drive down suicide rates.
“We can only capture this opportunity if we equip those who interact with people at risk of suicide with the training, skills and confidence they need to do so.
“We look forward to hearing the outcomes of the forum in Wagga Wagga, and the broader effort on the part of Government to upskill the suicide prevention workforce as a whole,” Ms Murray said.
Clare Kinsella – 0427 689 689
Michaela Weston – 0403 483 023