MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: I have been working with professionals and advocates in the mental health field now for many years. As the Premier's Advocate for Suicide Prevention, I have appreciated the opportunity to strengthen these relationships and contribute to better mental health outcomes. One strong lesson I have learned is the important difference that each individual can make. Will the minister update the council on mental health support programs?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:58): I thank the honourable member for his question and acknowledge his work over many years in the field of mental health, particularly suicide prevention, and particularly for his work in more recent times as the Premier's Advocate for Suicide Prevention.

Awareness and acknowledgement of the importance of mental health, in addition to physical health, has been growing in recent years through such initiatives as R U OK? Day, but more needs to be done, particularly in the preventive space. Preventive health support, particularly in the mental health space, not only takes pressure off acute care services but, more importantly, is associated with better outcomes for health consumers. In this respect, it is important to note the difference we can all make through our daily interactions.

This individual impact is only heightened when people have access to mental health and suicide awareness training programs. To aid in this, SA Health has recently offered training in suicide and self-harm mitigation through the Connecting with People program. Connecting with People, informed by evidence-based principles, aims to increase empathy, reduce stigma and enhance participants' ability to respond compassionately to someone who has suicidal thoughts, or following self-harm.

The training is available as a set of modules delivered directly to delegates at a venue of choice. To develop long-term capability in organisations, SA Health also offers Train the Trainer. Those trained may then themselves offer Connecting with People to other organisations. Approximately 2,600 people to date have been trained in Connecting with People suicide awareness training across South Australia.

This work continues to expand, to include the Department for Correctional Services, PIRSA, and the Department for Environment and Water, as well as existing community groups, suicide prevention networks, NGOs and health professionals. On 6 February, the across government agencies issues group on suicide prevention, chaired by the member for Waite and consisting of 22 senior government executives, including the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment, Ms Erma Ranieri and members of the Premier's Suicide Prevention Council, undertook the training.

Members of this parliament, together with their staff, were also given the opportunity to undertake the training in the Old Chamber on 19 February. I am delighted that approximately 40 members, staff and ministerial staff attended this training, which was hosted by the honourable member in his role as Premier's Advocate for Suicide Prevention, and that members from both sides of this chamber attended.

The session also included the rollout of a telephone script tool that can be used by staff when taking calls from people who are suffering suicidal thoughts. This telephone script was in fact developed by a collaborative approach by the Office of the Premier's Advocate for Suicide Prevention with input from the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist's suicide prevention staff. Further training sessions will be scheduled for members and parliamentary staff who were unable to attend this session, and these training sessions are held regularly with government agencies and in the community. I encourage all members and staff to attend.