MPs say suicide trial must do more

Headshot of Jakeb Waddell
Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser

The Federal Government has been urged to “get on the ground” to tackle the suicide issue in the Kimberley, after a visit to the region by the shadow assistant minister for mental health.

Labor Senator Deborah O’Neill met mental health service providers and community leaders last week to investigate the impact of the Government’s suicide prevention trial, one of 12 that have been rolled out across the nation.

The trial, an election commitment of the Labor Party, was implemented by the Turnbull Government in recognition of the high rate of suicide in the Kimberley, which is more than six times the national average.

But after meeting with the Bidyadanga Community Council, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services and Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre, Ms O’Neill said not enough was being done with the $3 million allocated to the trial.

“It is clear to me from my visit that there are deep and real problems in communities across the Kimberley region,” she said.

“Meeting with elders in Bidyadanga left a very significant impression on me that there is profound and unmet need in that community.

“They are simply not getting an adequate response from the Government.

“If the largest Aboriginal remote community in the Kimberley isn’t getting the attention it needs, it gives me serious concerns about how this money is being used.

“There are stories of trauma that seem to have been embedded over a period of time and it is very clear that more needs to be done.”

WA Labor Senator in charge of regional affairs, Glenn Sterle, travelled to the Kimberley with Ms O’Neill and said their findings were “absolutely alarming”.

“I am astounded that the Federal Government are not talking to the people that this trial affects,” he said.

“I’m very glad Ms O’Neill has taken the time to tackle this problem head on and return to Parliament with this knowledge.

“We can’t sit back any more. The pressure is building and it is shameful that not more is being done.”

Malcolm Turnbull met indigenous leaders in Broome in August to discuss the prevention trial and said the Government wanted to do more to address the problem.

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