SUICIDE PREVENTION

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 15:06 ): I seek leave to make a
brief explanation before asking the Minister for Employment, Higher Education
and Skills a question about suicide prevention training in journalism and
public relations. 

Leave granted. 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: The minister will recall
that on 18 November last year I asked her questions regarding the possible
implementation of a program called Mindframe for government‑funded journalism
and public relations education courses. As I have previously indicated,
Mindframe is a resource that was developed in consultation with media, public
relations, professionals, academics and suicide prevention and mental health
experts. 

Mindframe
provides new journalists and people and associated fields with the skills to
reduce stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental illness,
inform on appropriate reporting and communication about suicide and mental
illness and, primarily, minimise harm and copycat behaviour. 

In the
minister's response it was mentioned that the usual process for those courses
is to have strong industry input, and the minister was of the view that the
industry professional and other codes of conduct would encompass suicide
protocols for the media. The minister could not categorically confirm that so
she graciously offered to bring back an answer. On 6 May this year, the
minister brought back the answer and it states: 

The
State Government does not determine curriculum that is delivered in nationally
accredited V E T courses. This is the responsibility of the Australian Skills
Quality Authority (ASQA) which i s the national VET regulator. 

The
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance provides members with a Code of Ethics
for which journalists should follow when reporting which is outlined on their
website. 

I
visited the aforementioned website and viewed the code of ethics, which is
quite generic with no mention of mental illness or suicide. In light of this
response my questions to the minister are: 

1.Notwithstanding
the Media Alliance code of ethics already in place, will the minister or her
department insist on the use of Mindframe in media, public relations and
journalism courses conducted by government-funded institutions? 

2.Alternatively,
what information or advice does the minister have that the current code of
ethics in place ensures that mental illness and suicide prevention are satisfactorily
incorporated? 

3.Will
the minister commit her department to investigate if the current code of ethics
is as effective as the Mindframe resource? 

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister
for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and
Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business
Services and Consumers) (         15:09 ): I thank the honourable member for his questions. As I indicated in
my initial response, it is most inappropriate for me, as minister, to be
determining curriculum for training—or higher education, for that matter—which
I am also responsible for. There are processes involved, particularly at a more
national level now. 

We've gone from state-based programs to a nationally accredited program,
which I think is a very positive thing. It means that similar curricula are
accredited around the nation and similar standards are able to be maintained
around the nation, so I think that is a positive thing. It would be most
inappropriate for me to be determining curriculum. That's a matter for industry
to identify and also educators. Certainly, I'm prepared to encourage the
industry to consider these things and for them to encourage those elements
being added to curriculum in some way, but it's most inappropriate for me, as
an individual, to be prescribing curriculum outcomes.