Suicide Prevention

19th June 2019

Matters of Interest 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (15:31): On 29 May this year, along with more than 130 other people, I participated in the Network of Suicide Prevention Networks forum at the Salvation Army’s Riverside Centre in Gawler. The representation at the meeting included delegates from networks across the state, including: the Barossa; Mid Murray; Adelaide Plains; Salisbury; Gawler; Onkaparinga; Marion; Mid North; Mount Barker; Mount Gambier; Murray Bridge; Naracoorte, Lucindale and Districts; Mitcham; Playford; Port Adelaide; Port Augusta; Port Pirie; the Riverland; Copper Coast; Yorke Peninsula; Strathalbyn; Tea Tree Gully; Streaky Bay; Tumby Bay; South Coast; Western Adelaide; and Whyalla. 

As well there were representatives from the Adelaide and Treasuring Life South-East Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Networks and Wesley Life Force, which is, with my assistance, working on developing a network in the APY lands, as well as the 801 Mental Health Incorporated group. Others there also included members of the Premier’s Council and the Issues Group on Suicide Prevention. 

The MC for the day was Mr Matthew Tukaki, former chair of Suicide Prevention Australia, and the meeting heard addresses from Karen Redman, Mayor of Gawler, who has been a great supporter of suicide prevention, the Hon. Stephen Wade, Minister for Health and Wellbeing, and Dr John Brayley, the Chief Psychiatrist. There was also a particular feature on new networks, including the Mid North Suicide Prevention Network based at Jamestown, a showcase on the work of the existing networks, and a particular focus on suicide postvention, which is working with people who have been bereaved by suicide. 

We had presentations from a range of people with lived experience and from organisations such as Roses in the Ocean, Standby Support after Suicide, AnglicareSA Loss and Grief Services, and also a very heartrending address from Mr David Head, a farmer in the Murray Mallee who originally came from Eyre Peninsula. 

We also had a terrific performance of a dramatic production, known as Carpe Diem, about mental health, particularly men’s mental health, which has been funded by SA Health and the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist to be performed around South Australia. It was good to see a lot of support across the community for this forum, and I was pleased that the member for King in another place, Ms Paula Luethen, was in attendance. 

It was particularly relevant that the Salvation Army, led by Major Darren Cox, was able to host this event in the period around the Red Shield Appeal, which I have chaired in Gawler for some 19 years. The Salvation Army were doing suicide prevention over 100 years ago. As we know, the Salvos generally get their hands dirty doing things many other people will not touch, and I think it is a tribute to the fact that the Salvation Army were doing that work so much earlier than any other groups. In closing, I thank Dr John Brayley and his team from the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist, and also my very small staff as the Premier’s advocate, Ms Karen McColl and Ms Tanya Malins.