Suicide Prevention

10th May 2017 

Matters of Interest 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (15:42): I rise today to speak about the Suicide Prevention Network of Networks event, which was held under the title of Empowering Communities on 21 April at Pavilion on the Park in the Veale Gardens. I was pleased to see at that event representatives of the 24 suicide prevention groups that exist right around this state. In furthering the theme that members here have talked about concerning volunteers, certainly all these groups exist only through the efforts of hardworking, committed volunteers. 

The groups that have a close link to local government included the Mount Gambier Suicide Prevention Network; Treasuring Life, which is the South-East Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Network; the Gawler Suicide Prevention Network, of which I am a member; Back2Basics, which is based in the Clare and Gilbert Valleys; the Murray Bridge Suicide Prevention Network; the Playford Suicide Prevention Network; the Whyalla Suicide Prevention Network; Naracoorte and Lucindale Community Suicide Prevention Network; SOS Yorkes, which is in the area of the Yorke Peninsula council; Caring Connected Community, which is the Mid Murray Suicide Prevention Network; and Cleve and Districts Mental Health and Wellbeing Network. 

There is the Riverland Suicide Prevention Network, which involves all three councils in the Riverland and is closely connected to the CORES Riverland organisation; the Kimba Suicide Prevention Network; the Coorong Suicide Prevention Network; the Salisbury Suicide Prevention Network, Every Life Matters; and SOS Copper Coast, which works in the District Council of The Copper Coast region. There is also the Out of the Blue Suicide Prevention Network, which is based in the City of Mitcham, and the Port Lincoln Suicide Prevention Network. 

In addition to that there are a number of groups that have been initiated through federal funding that has come via the Wesley LifeForce organisation. Two of the earlier ones were the Strathalbyn Suicide Prevention Network and the SILPAG group, which is the Suicide Intervention and Life Promotion Action Group at Port Augusta. There is also the Port Adelaide Suicide Prevention Network, the Ceduna Suicide Prevention Network, the West Adelaide Suicide Prevention Network and the Aboriginal suicide prevention network, which runs in conjunction with Aboriginal Prisoners and Offenders Support Services. 

I commend all of the people who work within those groups around South Australia. They are people who have been prepared to do the work in the community of raising awareness about suicide in particular, about the services that are out there for people who are aggrieved by suicide but also in general about mental health issues. I commend them for that. 

On that day I also had the opportunity to take part in the consultation process—in the same venue—that was conducted by Suicide Prevention Australia in relation to the development of a national suicide strategy. I have spoken many times in this place about suicide prevention, and I have always been reluctant to get anywhere near politicising the issue. 

However, I must say that in the time that I have been working in this area I have been very disappointed by the leadership or the attention shown to this issue by a series of ministers. Particularly when minister Snelling was replaced as the mental health minister, I felt there would be an increased effort by minister Vlahos in this area, and I am sorry to say that that has not been the case. 

I think all these suicide prevention groups are actually really, really hanging out for acknowledgement from the government for the great work they do. They get fabulous support from the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist—I could not commend that group highly enough—but certainly, as a ministerial priority, suicide prevention has been at the bottom of the pile, and I am very unhappy about that. These groups mean a great deal to me, and I give them great credit for the work they do for South Australia.