SUICIDE PREVENTION

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 15:10 :17 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, representing the Minister for the Arts, questions about suicide prevention awareness in the arts sector.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: Earlier this week I described the work of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health from its base in Newcastle, New South Wales. The institute has a program known as Mindframe which provides practical advice and information for people involved in the development of Australian film, television and theatre to help inform truthful and authentic portrayals of mental illness and suicide. The resource known as Mental illness and suicide in the media: a Mindframe resource for stage and screen provides information about audience impact and key issues to consider when developing storylines that include mental illness or suicide.

The resource was developed in partnership with the Australian Writer's Guild, SANE Australia and a group of nine Australian scriptwriters after a workshop in March 2007 between Australian scriptwriters and people directly affected by or working in mental health areas. A need was identified for the establishment of a resource that will enhance the development of more truthful and authentic portrayals of mental health issues rather than those that perpetuate current myths and stereotypes. The resources are designed to help scriptwriters to continue to include fresh and original portrayals of mental illness and suicide that are accurate and authentic. My questions are:

1.Will the minister indicate what he and his department are doing to promote the Mindframe resource for stage and screen for use in the arts community to ensure portrayals of mental illness and suicide in screen and stage productions are accurate and do not perpetuate myths or stereotypes?

2.Has the minister or his department insisted on the use of this resource by government funded or assisted productions which include the portrayal of mental illness or suicide? If not, will the minister consider doing so?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 15:12 :49 ): I thank the honourable member for his most important questions and, again, acknowledge and thank him for pursuing these very important matters. I undertake to take those questions to the Minister for the Arts in the other place and seek a response on his behalf.