Suicide Prevention

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 16:58 :52 ): I move:

That this council—

1. Acknowledges the development of the suicide prevention networks around South Australia and encourages the rapid expansion of this successful initiative;

2. Calls on the Weatherill Labor government to enhance its efforts in the field of suicide prevention, both in programs and funding, and as a matter of urgency progress the development of its 2016 ‑ 2020 State Suicide Prevention Strategy;

3. Urges the Weatherill Labor government, in the development of its 2016-2020 State Suicide Prevention Strategy, to note—

(a) the establishment of a Ministerial Suicide Prevention Council by the Western Australian government;

(b) the commitment by the Victorian state government of $4.9 million to suicide prevention programs specifically for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) community;

(c) the establishment of a suicide register by the Queensland state government to enable better research into the causes and prevention of suicide, and the direction of funding to programs which will reduce the rates of suicide in areas discovered as ' hot spots ' ;

(d) the implementation of suicide prevention training programs for front - line police officers and public transport employees by the New South Wales state government; and

(e) the development of a dedicated Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy by the Tasmanian state government.

This motion, relating to suicide prevention in South Australia, is one that I am not going to speak on at any great length today. I think my passion in relation to these matters is well known to members of this chamber. However, it is important, I think, that such a motion be brought to this chamber because I get, I suppose, ongoing encouragement from people right around this parliament and in the general community to continue to do the work that I have done, and particularly, I think, following on from the motions that were carried in this house and the other place, which were moved by myself and the member for Adelaide respectively, that resulted in the development of the government's first state suicide prevention strategy.

I want to acknowledge the development of the suicide prevention networks around the state, and I look forward to the continuing expansion of this successful initiative—an initiative that I think invests in the fabulous efforts of volunteers in many communities, people from all walks of life who also have a great concern and passion for preventing suicide. I also, I suppose, in this motion emphasise that I ask the government to enhance its efforts, both in programs and funding, as it contemplates the development of a further suicide prevention strategy for 2016-2020.

I understand that the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist and other elements of the health department are in the early stages of that work towards a strategy and that there is some hope that there will be one agreed to by government by the end of next year but, among other areas relating to the work of suicide prevention, I would urge the government and the members of cabinet particularly to take some leadership in this area and perhaps give it a bit more impetus than has been the case in the past.

I have also, as part of this motion, asked that the government note the excellent initiatives that are taking place in other jurisdictions. I have been privileged, at the last two National Suicide Prevention conferences and in some other visits that I have made to other parts of Australia and New Zealand and to the United Kingdom, to witness a great range of initiatives that are relevant to the local jurisdictions and to particular communities within them.

Certainly, this motion highlights the establishment of a Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention by the Western Australian state government. It has been demonstrated that that body, alongside the Mental Health Commission that exists in Western Australia, has provided quite a bit of leadership and direction in the suicide prevention sector in that state.

Earlier today in question time, I asked a question of the minister representing the Minister for Mental Health about the Victorian program of just under $5 million for suicide prevention programs specifically for the LGBTIQ community, and I thank the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation for his response as he was referring that off to the minister. It is an area that the Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse offered to consider funding at estimates some 14 or 15 months ago, but I am not aware of any initiatives in that area.

As the minister said here in his answer to me today, it would be a good idea for the government to have a look at that work that is being undertaken in Victoria, and has been sponsored by governments of both flavours, and is particularly successful in the peri-urban rim around Melbourne. I had the privilege to speak with one of the young women running that program a few years ago.

The motion also highlights the need for the government to note the establishment of the suicide register by the Queensland state government to enable better research into the causes and prevention of suicide, and the direction of funding to programs which will reduce the rates of suicide in areas that have been discovered as so-called 'hot spots'. I have also mentioned in this place before the very worthwhile implementation of suicide prevention training programs for front-line police officers and public transport employees by the New South Wales state government. These people are right on the front line when dealing with incidents of suicide in many cases. I think it is something to be commended that those people are given training to deal not only with the death in those circumstances, or an attempted suicide, but also with the other people who are impacted around such a situation.

The motion is also aimed at urging the government to note the Tasmanian government's development of a dedicated Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy, because there is no doubt that we do have an opportunity with the young people of today. While the young people of today communicate differently to many of my vintage, they have not grown up with the stigma about discussing suicide and mental health issues that most of us did. They did not grow up with that sort of taboo on talking about these matters, which gives us an opportunity to develop some different strategies around that, and I commend the Tasmanian government for doing so.

Last Friday, I was pleased to attend the fourth of the Suicide Prevention Network of Networks events conducted by the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist. Two of these have been held in Adelaide about 12 months apart and the other two were of a more regional nature, one in Mount Gambier and one in Clare. I was pleased that last Friday, here at the Festival Centre, I was able to meet the new Chief Psychiatrist and also the new officer who has been appointed to assist in the rollout of the Suicide Prevention Strategy. I am delighted that that position has now been filled. It only took about 14 or 15 months after the promise was made in the lower house at estimates, but we have to rejoice in the fact that that person is now in the position.

I do want to say that is a pity that, of those four Network of Networks events, on only one occasion was the government represented by a member of parliament. In fact, last year the member for Taylor in another place (parliamentary secretary) represented the government, and I was very pleased about that, but on the other three occasions there has not been anyone there representing the government. I do not blame other members in this chamber because they may not have known that it was happening, but I think that is poor, because I think the great people who are working as volunteers in this area are looking for leadership. The leadership provided by the Hon. Helen Morton MLC in Western Australia and the Hon. Michael Ferguson MHA in Tasmania, as ministers in those jurisdictions, has been very well received.

I do say again to the current minister here that he needs to step up to the mark. He has been completely unseen and unheard in this sector. It is not too late. He needs to come on board. I know that there are many others in the government who support the work I have done, some of whom have urged me to continue moving motions like this.

Another area I have not mentioned directly in this motion but one I think is increasingly important for us to take notice of is the area of postvention; that is, a focus on the people who have been impacted by suicide and attempted suicide and who are, in many ways, at greater risk of having further instances of that in a particular family.

Only yesterday, in a conversation with a colleague in this parliament, I learned of a situation where suicide has impacted a family at three different generations. I have certainly come across it where it has been more than once in the one generation and maybe in two generations, but I have not heard of that before. It is an area we must continue to focus on because it has been proven over and over again that many of the people in those families who have suffered from suicide will be very vulnerable and at risk of taking their own life.

With those words, I commend the motion to the council. I urge all members to continue to work hard. I am very grateful for the terrific support I have received from many members in this chamber and the other place for the work I do in this area. I will indicate to members later this year when I wish to call this to a vote. I seek the support of the council.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. G.A. Kandelaars .