EMERGENCY SERVICES WORKERS

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Health and Wellbeing a question regarding support for emergency services workers.  Recently, I represented the Premier at the Global Alliance Conference on Post-Traumatic Stress and witnessed the participation of emergency services personnel in that forum. I have also welcomed the very proactive contributions of the various emergency services agencies in the cross-government issues group on suicide prevention. Will the minister update the council on support for emergency services workers?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing): I thank the honourable member for his question. The Marshall Liberal government has a strong commitment to suicide prevention, as is clear through the appointment by the Premier of his Advocate for Suicide Prevention, the honourable member, and the investment of $2.5 million to support suicide prevention networks across the state.

Today, I note the challenges particularly faced by our emergency services workers. This morning, with the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, I was present at the South Australian launch of a national campaign by R U OK?, specifically directed towards emergency services workers. The campaign is called Are They Triple OK? This initiative has its roots in 'Answering the call', a national survey by Beyond Blue, into the mental health and wellbeing of police and emergency services personnel.

The survey took in over 21,000 responses and showed that this particular group is under significant stress. Among the disturbing findings are that police and emergency services workers report having suicidal thoughts at a much higher frequency than the general Australian population—more than twice as often—and at the same time the chances that they will have made a suicide plan are three times as high.

While the nature of the work these men and women do and the pressure they are under through the work environment mean they are going to be under greater stress, they deserve all the support we can give them. I pause to note the work being done by the Jamie Larcombe Centre at the Glenside precinct, which provides support to people who are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. This support is available for former members of the military, but also is available for police and other first responders.

I also pay tribute to the important work done by The Road Home, an organisation that grew out of the Repat Foundation and an organisation which, too, responds to post-traumatic stress across the whole domain of first responders and military. Are They Triple OK? seeks to continue this support through the provision of resources targeted to police and emergency services personnel to assist colleagues in spotting the signs that one of their colleagues might be struggling, asking R U OK? and beginning a meaningful conversation with that colleague.

These resources are available online without charge to enable wide dissemination amongst these personnel, as well as their family and friends. I thank all these personnel for the contribution they make to this state and this nation, particularly the first responders within my portfolio, members of the South Australian Ambulance Service. I would encourage them to seek out the resources provided through Are They Triple OK?, whether they are feeling under stress themselves or whether they are worried about a colleague. It is important for each of us to care for those who care for us.