The first suicide prevention strategy for Sunshine Coast Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been launched by USC’s The Alliance for Suicide Prevention – Sunshine Coast.
The Alliance worked alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to develop a strategy that is culturally-appropriate and meets the needs of communities on the Sunshine Coast.
The strategy aims to boost the community’s capability in identifying those at risk of self-harm or suicide, and was co-designed with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and community organisations.
The Institute’s Indigenous Engagement and Suicide Prevention Officer Tegan Schefe said the strategy drew on latest research into culturally appropriate and effective practices to support the emotional and social wellbeing on Indigenous peoples.
“We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people die by suicide at twice the rate of non-Indigenous Australians. It’s vital that the community be central to this strategy.”
She said a significant part of the strategy was supporting people at risk through upskilling mainstream healthcare providers to deliver more culturally appropriate care.
“High-risk groups and their families shouldn’t suffer in silence but have support people who know how to access services such as crisis intervention to address suicidal behaviours, or healing programs that help people who are suicidal,” she said.
The strategy also builds upon The Alliance’s current community training in suicide alertness, to provide Indigenous-specific training, and Tegan is working closely with well-known suicide prevention training providers Livingworks to adapt the content with Indigenous needs in mind.
A public awareness campaign to increase community capacity to identify and support at-risk people, recognise social and cultural indicators of suicide, and access services, will also be released.
The Alliance for Suicide Prevention will also deliver research, with the aim of expanding the evidence base needed to improve mental health services and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
An Indigenous Advisory Group, formed during the co-design of the strategy, will continue to guide the roll-out of the plan.