Senate to investigate suicide rate
The Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial will be one of several initiatives examined in a Senate inquiry into regional mental health service access.
Labor and the Greens were successful in their push to make the inquiry a reality last week.
Its broad scope is to look into why regional residents were accessing mental health services at lower rates than city dwellers despite both populations having about one in five people experiencing a mental disorder every year.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service raised concerns earlier this year that remote Australians were accessing mental health services at 20 per cent of the rate those in the city were.
The inquiry will also look into the high rate of suicide in the regions, the mental health workforce, delivery challenges and other issues.
Labor Senator Deborah O’Neill said the inquiry was crucial to addressing the incidence of mental ill health in rural and remote Australia.
“The rate of mental ill health and suicide in rural and remote Australia, and particularly among our First Nations peoples, is heartbreaking and is a call to action,” she said.
“Labor acknowledges the work the Primary Health Networks and steering groups are undertaking across all of the 12 suicide prevention trial sites.
“As the trial sites are now almost two years into a three-year trial, there is growing support from the mental health sector for Government to consider extending the trials.
“What Labor has asked the Turnbull Government to consider is that each of the 12 suicide prevention trial sites have equal opportunity to commission on-ground services.”
Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said he welcomed anything which would lead to improved delivery and uptake of mental health services.
“I commend the dedication of those working in the suicide prevention trial sites program, especially the important and continuing input from younger people in the Kimberley and Darwin,” he said.
Submissions are sought by May 11 to the inquiry with a final report due October 17.