Suicide of 10-year-old Aboriginal girl prompts calls for scrutiny of prevention programs

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Suicide of 10-year-old Aboriginal girl prompts calls for scrutiny of prevention programs

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has said a report into the effectiveness of current Indigenous suicide prevention programs is due later this year, following Sunday’s apparent suicide of a 10-year-old Aboriginal girl.
The apparent suicide of a 10-year-old girl in a remote West Australian community on the weekend has led to calls for scrutiny of existing suicide prevention programs.

The death was one of the youngest reported of an Aboriginal person in Western Australia and followed that of an 11-year-old Geraldton boy in late 2014.

The girl was the youngest of 19 Indigenous people to take their own lives in rural areas of Western Australia since December last year.

Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said the girl was exposed to accumulated “trauma and tragedy”.

“The issue of accumulated harm comes to my mind very quickly when I think about some of the circumstances of this girl,” Ms Morton told ABC Radio.

She was exposed over her very short life to quite a level of accumulated harm and trauma.”

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said he was “deeply saddened” by the incident which occurred in the town of Looma on Sunday.

A spokesman for the minister told SBS there was a critical response initiative in place to deliver much needed prevention initiatives, however he said a report looking into current suicide prevention programs was due by mid-2016.

“On coming to office, the Minister commissioned the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project to evaluate the effectiveness of existing suicide-prevention programmes,” the spokesman said.

The rate of suicides in the Indigenous community – and in particular among children – is a humanitarian crisis. The apparent suicide of a young girl in WA calls for immediate action, writes Gerry Georgatos.

“It provided interim advice before Christmas last year that existing response services were often not well-coordinated or delivered in a culturally appropriate way.

“The Minister acted on this advice, approving funding of up to $1 million for a critical response initiative in Western Australia to respond to suicides and their triggers.”

Mr Scullion said the initiative has been rolled out in Western Australia which accounts for one-in-four Indigenous suicides across Australia, and the Kimberley region has been one of its highest priorities.

“The critical response initiative also includes a preventative component which will be trialled in the Kimberley region,” he said.

“It is developing a coordinated and family-centric model of care to be delivered by Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention services.”

Suicide researcher, Gerry Georgatos, travelled to the town on Tuesday to support the community in his role as a coordinator of the $1 million Indigenous suicide critical response initiative.

“This tragedy has affected not only her community but surrounding communities that she had been moved around within,” Mr Georgatos told Guardian Australia.

“Many families and communities need support.”

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Beyondblue on 1300 224 636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

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