Communities key to tackling youth suicide

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Health Minister Roger Cook.
Camera IconHealth Minister Roger Cook. Credit: Tim Edmunds

Health Minister Roger Cook believes stepping back and empowering communities across the Kimberley to roll out programs tackling youth suicide would be the State Government’s most effective response to the findings of a recent inquest.

WA Coroner Ros Fogliani last month released her recommendations following the deaths of 13 youngsters in the region within less than four years in the region and called for the Government and its service providers to consult Aboriginal communities when designing strategies for change, among 41 other recommendations.

Speaking to the Broome Advertiser after a roundtable discussion with public health providers and groups in the Kimberley last Thursday, Mr Cook said working with communities to implement programs could be the key to change. “The Government has to have the maturity and strength to step back and actually provide the resources to the community to run some of these services,” he said.

“I think what we’ve done in the past is that we tend to do things to the community and then consulted the community about what we are going to do to them next, rather than saying ‘let’s work together in a partnership, design the programs together and, if necessary, you can deliver them on everyone’s behalf’.

“(We need to) allow them to drive the programs to make sure they are culturally appropriate and effective.”

Mr Cook said ensuring children were meeting developmental milestones and engaged in school would also be priorities for the State Government, in responding to other recommen-dations made by Ms Fogliani.

Other key recommendations included universal screening for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder during infant health assessments, a commissioner for Aboriginal children, blanket takeaway alcohol restrictions across the region and a banned drinkers’ register. The State Government is yet to officially respond to Ms Fogliani’s findings.

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