The National Suicide Prevention Advisor reports directly to the Prime Minister. In April 2021 she provided her Final Advice in support of the Australian Government’s ‘towards zero’ suicides goal.
The National Suicide Prevention Adviser provided her Final Advice to the Prime Minister in April 2021. This Final Advice consists of three complementary reports building on the Initial Findings submitted in November 2019 and the Interim Advice submitted in August 2020. The reports and recommendations are available here.
The first report Compassion First is informed by the voices of 3,000 people with lived experience of suicide. The clarion call from people with lived experience is for more comprehensive and connected approaches that address vulnerabilities long before a crisis, and for more compassionate responses that do not treat the individuals as a ‘medical problem’ but rather provide them with assistance through their distress, connecting them to the right supports.
The second report Connected and Compassionate details eight practical and achievable recommendations and actions for driving change across Australia.
The third report Shifting the focus calls for a whole of government approach to suicide prevention and provides tools that can be used by government portfolios at the Commonwealth and State/Territory Government levels.
The reports identify four enablers of a new approach to suicide prevention. Of particular relevance to the rail industry is the input of lived experience knowledge, data and evidence to drive change and workforce and community capability.
Building capacity of the workforce through events like Rail R U OK? Day and Mental Health First Aid is particularly relevant in the context of the report recommendations. It says:
People experiencing suicidal distress interact with workforces across various sectors, at different times and in different ways. Many are likely to talk to friends and family before seeking professional help. The first time a person discloses their distress or suicidality is a critical moment, so it is vital to build capability and knowledge across workforces and within communities to ensure a shared understanding about suicide distress, and the criticality of a consistent and compassionate approach.
The report also identifies that in addition to the reforms needed to enable an appropriate enabling environment, there is also a need to address interactions that occur with people who are vulnerable to suicide. This includes responding earlier to distress – so diverting individuals from a suicidal trajectory, connecting people to compassionate services and supports and targeting groups that are disproportionately affected by suicide.
The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention has announced that National Cabinet has asked for a National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement by November 2021. He believes that his Agreement will pave the way for long-term reform. The Minister’s comments on the Final Advice and the way forward is available here.