The State Government is progressing with efforts to tackle South Australia’s suicide rate by announcing the members of the Premier’s Council on Suicide Prevention.
Premier Steven Marshall said the council, which is led by the Hon. John Dawkins MLC, is tasked with the critical role of reducing the State’s suicide rate which is currently above the national average.
“Suicide claims too many lives in South Australia, devastating families and friends,” Premier Marshall said.
“The Premier’s Council on Suicide Prevention will build on the vital work of the Suicide Prevention Networks which have been set up in council areas across the State.
“We know that the Suicide Prevention Networks are having an impact in country South Australia where the suicide rate is lower than rural and regional areas interstate.
“The council will devote their efforts to delivering improvements in policy and services that we hope will reduce the impact of suicide in our metropolitan areas and further reduce it in our rural communities.”
The Hon. John Dawkins MLC was appointed as the Premier’s Advocate for Suicide Prevention earlier this year and said he welcomed the 13 South Australians, from varying vocational, cultural and social backgrounds who have agreed to serve on the council.
“I’m looking forward to working with the council and building on the good work already being done by the Suicide Prevention Networks and staff within the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist at SA Health,” Mr Dawkins said.
“Suicide shatters the lives of loved ones and local communities and we need to do more to help people at risk.
“These council members are passionate advocates for suicide prevention and between them, they have devoted decades to helping people touched by suicide.
“I will work with the council to lower the number of lives lost to suicide which might involve a number of strategies, including providing additional services and attention to people at risk.”
The Premier’s Council on Suicide Prevention will be located at the SA Health CitiCentre building.
Members of the council include:
- Ms Jill Chapman – founder and Chairperson of Minimisation of Suicide Harm (MOSH) Australia, which is based in the western suburbs and which is funded by its Op Shops, including one in the CBD called POSH MOSH. Jill has lived experience in suicide through the death of her son a number of years ago. She is also a qualified celebrant who conducts many funerals.
- Ms Janet Kuys – founder and co-ordinator of Silent Ripples, a support group in Murray Bridge for families which have experienced loss through suicide. Silent Ripples has established a memorial garden near the town’s Roundhouse where it conducts an annual memorial service. It has also recently conducted meetings in the Riverland communities of Berri and Waikerie. Janet has lived experience in suicide through the death of her son who was a member of the Australian Defence Force.
- Mr Peter May of Mount Gambier – founder of the Treasuring Life South East Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Network. An Aboriginal Health Worker for the Limestone Coast, Peter was recognised for his work in establishing Treasuring Life in the LiFE Awards conducted by Suicide Prevention Australia in 2017.
- Ms Tracey Wanganeen – coordinator of Country SA South for StandBy Support after Suicide, which is an arm of Uniting Communities and is one of Australia’s largest dedicated suicide postvention programs. Tracey is based at Mount Gambier and has supported suicide prevention and postvention groups in the Murraylands, Riverland, Fleurieu and South East.
- Ms Chez Curnow – Mental Health and Alcohol & Other Drugs Manager of Suicide Prevention and Low Intensity Strategies for Country SA Primary Health Network (PHN). Based in Port Augusta, Chez is responsible for managing the Commonwealth Government’s National Suicide Prevention trial in SA. Chez (pronounced Shay) was formerly the Country SA North co-ordinator for StandBy Response (now StandBy – Support after Suicide). She is also an active participant in the Suicide Intervention Life Preservation Action Group in Port Augusta.
- Kelly Vincent – former Member of the Legislative Council. Advocate for the rights and needs of people with disabilities. Kelly is a strong supporter of John Dawkins’ work on suicide prevention.
- Chad McLaren – joined the Army Reserve in 1998 and transferred to the Royal Australian Navy in 2003 as a medical assistant. Chad deployed on Operation Relex (border protection) in 2004 and in 2008 discharged from the Australian Defence Force. Chad is a committee member of Henley and Grange RSL and hopes to change the culture to a place where contemporary veterans feel comfortable. Chad is also a member of the Jamie Larcombe Centre Partnership Hub governing committee.
- Mr Simon Schrapel AM – CEO of Uniting Communities, which runs Lifeline in Adelaide. Simon is a former Chair of Foodbank SA and Director of Foodbank Australia and is a past president of the Australian Council of Social Service.
- Rev Peter Sandeman – CEO of Anglicare SA, which runs Living Beyond Suicide in metropolitan Adelaide. Peter has worked in key roles in Anglicare in other parts of Australia as well as holding senior positions with the SA Government in disability services and primary health.
- Dr Kate Fennell – Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide and Research Fellow at the Sansom Institute for Health Research at the University of South Australia. Having grown up in the Streaky Bay area, Kate has a particular focus on understanding and addressing psychosocial needs of rural people affected by cancer, rural help-seeking behaviour and development, and farmers’ health and mental health.
- Ms Lee Martinez – lecturer in mental health at the University of South Australia’s Department of Rural Health Whyalla campus. Lee is a member of Whyalla’s Suicide Prevention Network and an active participant at Network of Networks events.
- Dr Peter Tyllis – former Chief Psychiatrist for SA. In that role Peter was a strong supporter of his office’s role in the early development of suicide prevention networks around SA. He is now in private practice in Adelaide.
- Dr Seema Jain – in private general practice at Elizabeth Grove for many years. Seema has a particular interest in mental health and its connection to illicit drugs and domestic violence.