The mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has become a critical issue and available data indicates an entrenched, worsening, mental health crisis. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide occurs at double the rate of other Australians. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of 15 to 34 years of age, accounting for 1 in 3 deaths. At the core of any solutions are concepts of community ownership and valuing culture. New approaches where mental health profession needs to and have begun to engage with Indigenous people in ways that support self-determination and assist recovery and cultural maintenance are essential. The national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) at UWA were undertaken in response to appalling rates of suicide. ATSISPEP achieved the development of an evidence base for what works in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention and the development of a culturally appropriate evaluation framework. It identified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community suicide prevention needs and that system-level change was required. As a result, the Centre of Best Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP, UWA) was established to reduce the causes, prevalence and impact of suicide on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, their families and communities. CBPATSISP aims to identify best practice programs and services and research in Indigenous suicide prevention through an Indigenous ‘lens’ for Indigenous peoples. Also to identify the need and facilitate innovative research, to translate best practice for practical application for stakeholders. This presentation will review main messages from the Solutions That Work Report and work of the CBPATSISP.
Professor Pat Dudgeon is from the Bardi people of the Kimberly area in Western Australia. She is a psychologist and Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society. She is a researcher at the School of Indigenous Studies at the University of Western Australia in Perth, Western Australia. Her area of research includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention. Amongst her many commitments, she is a Commissioner of the Australian national Mental Health Commission, deputy chair of the Australian Indigenous Psychologist’s Association, chair of the National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Leaders Mental Health and co-chair of the ministerial Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group. She is currently the director of the National Empowerment Project: an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention project working with eleven sites in Aboriginal communities across the country, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project and the UWA Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP). She has many publications in Indigenous mental health in particular, the Working Together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principals and Practice 2014. She is actively involved with the Aboriginal community and has a commitment to social justice for Indigenous people.