SUICIDE PREVENTION

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS(17:34:21): Suicide does not discriminate; it can affect any family at any time. I thank very much those members who have spoken to this motion today: the Hon. Mr Gazzola, the Hon. Ms Franks and the Hon. Ms Vincent. They, among many others in the parliament, have been extraordinarily supportive of my work in this area and my passion for doing everything we can to reduce suicide in the community. Each of them particularly demonstrated to the council the broad extent to which suicide is a major issue right across all demographic and geographic areas of this state and beyond, of course.

There are many other people in this chamber, the parliament and the community who have been extraordinarily supportive of me in that work, and I am very grateful for it and I will continue for as long as I feel is needed. I would be grateful one day to come in and say that our efforts have been broadly successful. At the moment, while the community are prepared to talk about these matters far more than they were, I think we all know that the issue is still one that needs an extraordinary community-wide effort, and I thank those who support those efforts as we develop them across the political divide, across all communities.

For those who might be reading this in Hansard, the elements in Nos 4 and 5 of the motion in relation to encouragement for community organisations that are already working hard in the sector and urging the government to build on the work of Office of the Chief Psychiatrist by increasing support for the ongoing establishment of suicide prevention networks, I refer them to the Address in Reply speech I made on 20 May, where I gave significant detail about many of the large number of groups I work with, have worked with and continue to work around South Australia.

Of course, as I said on the day, the danger of listing those groups is that you miss someone. I am very sorry that there was one very important group I missed in that speech, which is called Mates in Construction. I know that my colleagues on the other side who have been involved with unions dealing with the construction industry would be aware of the very good work that that organisation does, both in concert with the unions and with the relevant employer organisations.

I remind the chamber that I am very grateful that the government did develop its suicide prevention strategy as a response to the motion which I moved in this chamber some years ago and which was also moved in the lower house by the member for Adelaide and their successful passage. As I have said, I am sincerely grateful for the development of the strategy and the involvement of some terrific people in that area. I have always commended the strategy, and the strategy and the development of networks was very adequately described by the Hon. Mr Gazzola. But I do say that we need to step up the effort. There is a significant need for extra resources to be given to the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist.

The Hon. Mr Gazzola accurately reflected the networks that have been developed or are in the process of being developed, but there is one public servant doing that work and that lady, and I have mentioned her name before, Lynne James, is a dedicated individual, but she is one person. I do bring that plea to the government.

I also say to the Minister for Mental Health that I think he does need to be more active in this space. The minister is the Minister for Health and Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse. I think there is a cry (and I will not name them) from people on the Labor side as well as all sides in the community for more leadership in this area. I do say to the Minister for Mental Health that I think it is time that he stepped up his efforts in public about suicide.

In conclusion, I will respond to the Hon. Kelly Vincent's question of me in regard to Lifeline. I understand her concern. Lifeline has been around in South Australia for almost 51 years and it is well regarded around Australia as a wonderful organisation that has helped many people over many years, but there is that concern that, if you advertise something and then you cannot cope with the level of calls or people seeking help, is that the right thing to do?

I am very grateful that the government came up with a commitment of funding for Lifeline in Adelaide, late in the state campaign, for the first time. Also, I will put on the record that I think that only happened because the Liberal Party some six or eight months earlier made a commitment to Lifeline across South Australia. At the time, the government said it would not be doing that but it certainly did at the tail end of the campaign. I am not playing politics: I am grateful for the commitment.

I think we are all aware that Lifeline has been advertising on radio, and I think TV, trying to get more community support for their services. I have recently been interstate and met with Lifeline Australia, their peak body and a number of different Lifeline groups, in places such as Melbourne, Albury, Canberra, the harbour-to-Hawkesbury area in Sydney, and also in Wollongong. Some of them are connected significantly to the Uniting Church and others are completely independent. They all raise money in an array, I suppose, of different manners, and we are all aware in South Australia of those Lifeline clothing shops.

Having met with the people who work for Lifeline, whether in a paid or voluntary capacity (and a great majority of them are in the latter), I can say that the calibre of people involved is extraordinary. As well as working in their own areas, they tend now to take calls from other parts of the country to try to share the load. I am a great advocate of the work that Lifeline does and anything that we as a community and the government of this state can do to support them is well worth it.

I thank members for their support for this motion. I commend the motion to the council but I also urge members to go out and continue to encourage the community to have the conversation and discussion about suicide.

Motion carried.