Mr RAMSEY (Grey–Government Whip) (11:52): I move:
That this House:
(1) expresses its support for continued trials into suicide prevention in rural and regional Australia;
(a) the huge toll suicide takes on regional communities;
(b) that people in regional areas are more likely to take their own lives than those in metropolitan areas;
(c) that suicide is the leading cause of death in people aged between 15 and 44; and
(d) that regional communities are affected by economic stress, the effects of natural disasters, isolation and loneliness, leading to increased risk of suicide;
(3) encourages the National Suicide Prevention Strategy to:
(a) commission regionally appropriate suicide prevention activities; and
(b) identify young people at high risk of self-harm or suicide and support them; and
(4) supports funding into mental health research and trials in electoral divisions across regional Australia, such as those conducted in Whyalla, Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Port Lincoln and Yorke Peninsula, in the electoral division of Grey.
Suicide is the last thing a person does in their life. It’s a waste, it’s sad and it’s horrific. I rise today to add my support to the people and programs which seek to raise the profile of this issue so those who need help realise they’re not on their own but that the community and the government stand ready to help them.
The reality is that every day loving, talented and good people are felled by a seemingly unlikely killer: themselves. The triggers for suicide are many and varied, and it seems that regional communities carry more than their fair share of those issues. Economic stress; natural disasters; isolation and loneliness; and high incidence of drug and alcohol use are all factors which are prominent in regional areas. These, in turn, lead to an increased risk of suicide. In fact, data is available showing that the risk of suicide for farmers is twice the national average.
The conventional belief is that suicide only impacts on close family members and that following a death by suicide it is only immediate family members who suffer the terrible resultant grief. Those who fall outside the circle of next of kin are often forgotten in the aftermath of the suicide death, but it’s clear that schools, workplaces, teammates and communities are also deeply impacted by suicide. Every member of this place has almost certainly been personally affected by suicide. Certainly, I am one of those.
The need to address suicide is one that brings this parliament together; it is beyond politics and we all seek to find solutions. The government’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy is a most welcome program, and demonstrates the parliament’s commitment. This program is delivering suicide prevention training courses throughout a range of regional centres throughout my electorate of Grey. Its initiatives include an Indigenous suicide crisis support and after-care workshop held in Port Augusta last year. Participants came from all over Australia to attend the two-day workshop, bringing professional and cultural expertise together to explore prevention strategies and interventions, which address suicidal crisis and follow-up care, and to explore what works for Indigenous populations.
Through the Country SA Primary Health Care Network, the ‘question, persuade and refer’ training program is being offered to around 1,000 community members within the National Suicide Prevention Trial regions, including Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Port Augusta, Port Pirie and the Yorke Peninsula. The program is designed to equip everyday people with three simple steps to help save a life: ask a question, try to persuade the person to seek help and then refer that person to the appropriate assistance. Like all pilot programs, we can never be sure of the results, but it’s fair to say that we have not arrived at this point by accident. The program is being implemented on the best advice. We recognise the value of the community knowing how to assist and hopefully one day save a life.
Five suicide prevention groups in Grey have been awarded grants through the National Suicide Prevention Strategy to continue to work to reduce the number of suicides. These are the Empowering Lower Eyre Suicide Prevention Network, the Port Lincoln’s suicide prevention network, Stamp Out Suicide Copper Coast, Stamp Out Suicide Yorke Peninsula and the Whyalla Suicide Prevention Network. As part of this strategy, the government is also extending support for Roses in the Ocean training for community members with a lived experience of suicide, which has been accessing data from regional community suicide prevention forums and the online survey to help identify the key priorities in the trial region. Strong themes have emerged during the regional suicide prevention networks’ work.
I’m also pleased to report that John Dawkins, MLC, has been appointed as chair of the Premier’s Council on Suicide Prevention, a state government initiative tasked with reducing SA’s suicide rate. Mr Dawkins, who has for more than a decade been a passionate advocate for suicide prevention, will act as the Premier’s Advocate for Suicide Prevention. I have already spoken to John about the links between the SA and federal governments, and I look forward to working with closely with him.
The government’s approach on this very confronting issue is multipronged, with the PM recently announcing a $34 million boost for Lifeline. The budget, which sits before the parliament at the moment, has allocated $338 million for mental health funding and there is the associated boost for suicide prevention programs. In closing, I return to personal issues: the huge toll that suicide takes on families and on regional communities and the sad reality that too many people-sons, daughters, husbands and friends-are no longer with us. In the words of the Roman philosopher Seneca, ‘Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.’ We need to give people that courage.