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Increased youth focus as Minister co-chairs suicide prevention committee

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM will co-chair a new steering committee working directly with local Aboriginal communities, as the Kimberley Suicide Prevention Trial begins detailed planning and delivery of potentially lifesaving initiatives across the region.

“This is where the rubber hits the road, working very closely at the community level, involving young people, families and elders,” the Minister said.

“We now have a strong operational plan based around the communities, to bring promising and proven strategies together in liaison with local people, to make a difference on the ground.”

Minister Wyatt said Friday’s suicide prevention roundtable in Broome was important in establishing a strong working partnership between local Aboriginal communities and the Commonwealth, especially through younger people.

He praised a presentation by Kimberley Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Forum members Jacob Corpus (20) from Broome and Montana Ahwon (19) from Kununurra, and said young people must be supported to play key roles in reducing suicide.

“Both Montana and Jacob are incredible and inspiring young leaders who have helped identify key factors that impact on Kimberley youth, which the steering committee will now consider,” he said.

“I will also encourage relevant Commonwealth and State organisations to ensure they include young Aboriginal people on advisory groups, to help empower them to take up future leadership roles.”

Youth forum recommendations included:

    • Support for emerging young leaders, positive role models and mentoring
    • The teaching in school of local culture and country traditions, the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and the importance of resilience
    • Strong youth engagement and networking through sports, arts and local cultural activities.

The roundtable also heard of the need for community-run “safe houses” for young people and the potential positive effects of having pairs of youth coordinators employed by Aboriginal community groups in towns across the Kimberley.

The steering committee will be co-chaired by Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Deputy CEO Rob McPhee and will report to the Kimberley Suicide Prevention Working Group.

Minister Wyatt commended everyone involved in the development of this work and is looking forward to returning to the Kimberley in November.

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