Community Affairs 25 February 2011
Senator SIEWERT—Can I move to the Indigenous suicide prevention strategy please? We talked about this at the last estimates.
Senator SIEWERT—Can we turn to the development of the strategy please. Has any progress been made? The government made a commitment in response to this committee’s report on suicide. One of our recommendations, as you know, was the development of a specific Indigenous suicide prevention strategy, and the government committed its response to do that. Firstly, where we are at with that?
Ms Harman—That is something that is very much on our work plan at the moment as a priority. We are meeting with the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council next week and that is one item that is very much on the agenda for discussion. Clearly, this is a strategy that is going to need to be driven by extensive community and expert consultation.
So the ASPAC meeting next week will be an important start of that process. There is also a joint National Advisory Council on Mental Health—NACMH—and National Indigenous Health Equality Council— NIHEC—forum that is going to focus on Indigenous youth mental health issues: social and emotional wellbeing issues. That is scheduled, I believe, and confirmed for 15 March in Canberra. It is bringing together NACMH and NIHEC to Canberra with a number of other experts.
Senator SIEWERT—To specifically talk about?
Ms Harman—To specifically talk about social and emotional Indigenous issues with a focus on youth. This is something that Minister Snowden has been interested in and has asked to be done, so that is another very important consultation forum where suicide will again be on the agenda. That is happening in March. One of the things that we will be seeking advice on from both of those bodies is what that further consultation process should look like.
Senator SIEWERT—Do you have a time line: (a) for when you expect to have it ready by and (b) mapped out in terms of when you expect to develop a draft and then presumably have it go out for public consultation?
Ms Harman—Those are matters that we will have to consult ministers on. We are at the very start of the process. We need to take that advice, and then we will form a kind of project plan from there, if you like. So, no, I do not have those specific details right now.
Senator SIEWERT—I will follow up in May.