Suicide Prevention

22nd July 2020

Matters of Interest 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (15:26): It seems a very long time since all of us have been able to attend a range of community events. I wish today to highlight a very special event, which was the last one I participated in before COVID-19. It was a privilege to participate in the Beat the Blues family fun event conducted by the Strathalbyn and Communities Suicide Prevention Network in the town’s Soldiers Memorial Gardens on 15 March. 

It was great to see Tracey Wanganeen from StandBy—Support After Suicide and a member of the Premier’s Council on Suicide Prevention lead the moving flower float of remembrance ceremony at the commencement of the event. Also present on the day were Alexandrina Council Mayor, Keith Parkes, Josh Teague (member for Heysen) and Rebekha Sharkie (federal member for Mayo). 

The community of Strathalbyn came together to coincide with the arrival of over 200 motorcycle riders for the Black Dog Ride 1 Dayer 2020 from Christies Beach to Strathalbyn. Strathalbyn and Communities Suicide Prevention Network chairperson, Vivienne Maher, indicated that the community event was planned to capitalise on the iconic annual motorcycle event ride to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention. 

Activities in the Peninsula Park in the centre of town included: community stalls and guest speakers; the flower float of remembrance, which I mentioned earlier; a climbing wall; a photo booth; other fair-style events and rides; music competitions; prizes; and much more. The Strathalbyn and Communities SPN acknowledges the important role that volunteering has in promoting mental health and wellbeing. 

As many of us here well know, volunteering can be very meaningful and enjoyable and can provide a sense of achievement and purpose; help you feel better by improving your self-esteem and confidence; help you share your skills and learn new skills; help combat stress, loneliness, social isolation and depression; and help you meet new people, which can help you feel more connected and valued. 

I have been pleased to have an association with the Strathalbyn and Communities Suicide Prevention Network since its inception under the umbrella of the Wesley LifeForce organisation based out of Sydney, with federal funding. Wesley LifeForce does need to be acknowledged for the contribution it has made to the establishment of a number of our around 40 networks in this state. That took place under the development of networks under the previous government, and I acknowledge that work done jointly with that organisation. 

In relation to Strathalbyn, I well recall attending one of the first meetings of that group, along with the then member for Heysen and leader of the opposition, Isobel Redmond. Isobel was very supportive of that organisation, as are the current local members whom I mentioned earlier. 

I want to particularly commend the efforts of Vivienne Maher, chairperson; Colin Shackleford, vice-chairperson; Karen Maidment-Longbottom, secretary; Cliff Sweetman, who is the promotions officer and a long-serving former chairperson; Gwenda Knights, the treasurer, who has been a wonderful stalwart of that group from its inception; Trudi-Ann Brooks, who is a network member; and all the supporting groups and individuals from Strath and surrounding communities for supporting what was a great event that was undertaken in the shadow of the COVID-19 restrictions. It was done on the Sunday before most of the things that we have become used to came to fruition. I think they made a very brave, courageous and worthy decision to go ahead with the event.