Part 1: Oversight and Coordination of Suicide Prevention Activity

Council of Australian Governments (COAG)

Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan 2017–2023

Reference Description
Action i, p.12
  • Governments will establish a Mental Health Expert Advisory Group [now referred to as the Mental Health Expert Reference Group] … to advise the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council, (AHMAC) through the Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Principal Committee [now referred to as the Mental Health Principal Committee] on Fifth Plan  implementation/analyse progress…
Action ii, p.12
  • Governments will establish a Suicide Prevention Subcommittee [now referred to as the Suicide Prevention Project Reference Group [SPPRG] that will report to [MHPC] on priorities for planning and investment. Membership will consist of:
    • representatives from the Commonwealth and each state and territory government
    • expert representatives from key peak bodies, research and academia and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector
    • consumers and carers
    • cross-representation with the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Subcommittee [see below]
  • The first priority for the [SPPRG] will be to develop the National Suicide Prevention Implementation Strategy for COAG Health Council endorsement
Action iii, p.13/ Action 4, p.25
  • Governments will establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Subcommittee [now referred to as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Project Reference Group – ATSIMHSPPRG] that will report to [MHPC] on priorities for planning and investment. [ATSIMSPPRG] will:
    • be chaired by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives
    • include membership from the Commonwealth and each state and territory government
    • include cross-representation with the new Suicide Prevention Subcommittee.
  • ATSIMHSPPRG – report to MHPC/AHMAC – priority tasks under Action 11 (Terms of Reference)
Action v, p.17
  • Governments will request the National Mental Health Commission delivers an annual report, for presentation to health ministers, on the implementation progress of the Fifth Plan and performance against identified indicators once the baselines have been established. These indicators will be disaggregated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status where possible.
Commonwealth – National leadership initiatives
Initiative Reference Description
$503 m Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan Budget 2019–20
  • Prime ministerial priority — providing greater support for all Australians needing mental health and suicide prevention services is a key priority of my Government.
  • … my Government is working towards a zero-suicide goalhttps://www.pm.gov.au/media/making-suicide-prevention-national-priority
  • A Suicide Prevention Adviser will be established within PM&C (Christine Morgan)
  • $15 million to create a new national information system that will help communities and services respond quickly to areas affected by high incidences of suicide and self-harm.
Australia’s Long-Term National Health Plan (until 2030) Announced 14 August 2019, detail is not available at time of writing, but all the below might involve mental health reform and/or mental health impacts that in turn help reduce suicide:

  • 10-year Primary Healthcare Plan in development
  • Indigenous preventative health plan in development. Particular goals – ending avoidable Indigenous blindness by 2025; ending avoidable Indigenous deafness; defeating rheumatic heart disease by 2030.
  • National 10-year Preventative Health Strategy in development
‘2030 Mental Health Vision’ Part of the above
  • Intergenerational health and mental health survey involving 60,000 Australians.
  • National Children’s Mental Health Strategy in development
National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program (ongoing) Activity 1
Activity 2
  • National Leadership in Suicide Prevention Research – The University of Melbourne
  • See also Centre for Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention (CRESP), based at the University of NSW, brings together researchers from Australia and New Zealand to undertake research in suicide prevention. The centre was established in 2012 and is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council. It focuses on four key areas of research: better delivery of interventions, better knowledge of causes and risks, improved help-seeking and improved prioritisation of suicide funds.
Activity 3
  • Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention – University of Western Australia (Poche Centre). This built on the work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP).
Activity 4
Activity 5
  • National Support Services for Individuals at Risk of Suicide

Indigenous specific

Initiative Description
NATSISPS
  • In 2013, the Commonwealth released the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Plan which is aligned with the LIFE Framework. While extracted in this Concordance, the Plan was never implemented and otherwise applied to the Commonwealth only.
MH&SEWB Fr
  • In October 2017, the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017–2023 was released. This contains Indigenous-specific responses across the mental health stepped care model utilised in the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.
Healing Foundation
  • The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to address the ongoing trauma caused by actions like the forced removal of children from their families. See: https://healingfoundation.org.au/about-us/
Drug and Alcohol
NATSIHP/IP
State and Territory suicide prevention governance and strategic responses to suicide
New South Wales

Governance

  • NSW Ministry of Health
  • Mental Health Commission of NSW
  • The NSW Mental Health Taskforce will provide oversight for the Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW 2018–2023, reflecting the diverse membership required to ensure action is taken across agencies.
  • NSW Suicide Prevention Advisory Group, was est. in 2016 to strengthen the planning, monitoring and coordination of suicide prevention efforts. Convened every six months by the Mental Health Commission of NSW and the NSW Ministry of Health, it brings together key stakeholders including police, emergency services, other government agencies, community organisations, PHNs, industry groups, Aboriginal health organisations, rural and remote communities, LGBTI communities and young people. The Advisory Group will continue to provide whole of community guidance to the NSW Mental Health Taskforce on issues relating to suicide prevention and implementation of the Framework.

Strategic responses – mainstream

  • The Mental Health Commission of NSW’s Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014–2024 serves as the overarching framework for mental health and wellbeing for the period of 2014–2024.
  • Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW 2018–2023 launched in October 2018.

Indigenous specific strategic responses

  • The NSW Aboriginal Health Plan 2013–2023 envisions health equity for Aboriginal people in NSW. An Aboriginal Mental Health Plan 2006–10 was developed under a previous plan but is yet to be replaced.
Queensland

Governance

  • Queensland Department of Health
  • Queensland Mental Health Commission
  • Queensland Suicide Prevention Reference Group – convened by the Commission. The Commission will monitor the Action Plan’s implementation and will report on progress annually. Progress will be measured based on age standardised rates of suicide in Queensland and on the rates of suicide experienced by vulnerable groups. The Commission will review the Action Plan after 12 months. (See: https://cabinet.qld.gov.au/documents/2015/Sep/SuicidePrevPlan/Attachments/Summary.PDF)
  • Queensland Advisory Group on Suicide – sub-committee of the above – focus on enhancing the usability, and timeliness of suicide mortality and attempt data across Queensland. Representatives are the key suicide data custodians in Queensland, including the Office of the State Coroner, Queensland Health, Queensland Ambulance Service and Queensland Police Service.

Strategic responses – mainstream

  • The Queensland Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Strategic Plan 2014–2019 aims to improve the health and wellbeing of Queenslanders and to develop a renewed approach to suicide prevention.
  • The goal of the resultant (from above) Queensland Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2015–17 is to reduce suicide and its impact on Queenslanders through a whole-of-government plan and comprehensive cross-sectoral approach.
  • The Queensland Government’s Suicide Prevention in Health Services Initiative is an integral part of Connecting care to recovery 2016–2021: A plan for Queensland’s state-funded mental health, alcohol and other drug services.
  • The Townsville Community Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2017–2020 was guided by the Living is for Everyone (LIFE) framework and the Queensland Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2015–17.

Indigenous specific strategic responses

  • Queensland Health Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Strategy 2016–2021. Aims to close gap in mental health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders and non–Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders.
  • The Queensland Mental Health Commission has developed a Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Wellbeing Action Plan 2016–18 (https://cabinet.qld.gov.au/documents/2016/Aug/QATSIwellplan/Attachments/Plan.PDF)
  • Qld Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander SEWB Action Plan, Action 9, p.18
  • Support the Cultural Social and Emotional Wellbeing Pilot in Kuranda and Cherbourg. The pilot is an initiative under the National Empowerment Project. It seeks to strengthen cultural, social and emotional wellbeing, to increase resilience, and reduce psychological and community distress and high rates of suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The Commission provides funding of $367,000 to Ngoonbi Community Services Indigenous Corporation. The pilot provides Mental Health First Aid and Cultural Social and Emotional Wellbeing programs to empower community members with the knowledge and tools to assess, prevent and respond to mental health issues (Queensland Mental Health Commission).
South Australia

Governance

  • SA Department of Health
  • SA Mental Health Commission – co-ordinates, oversees and evaluates the implementation South Australian Mental Health Strategic Plan 2017–2022
  • South Australian Suicide Prevention Plan is implemented by a South Australian Suicide Prevention Plan Implementation Committee. Implementation will be reported against through the Annual Report of the Chief Psychiatrist of South Australia.
  • Suicide Prevention Networks (see below)

Strategic responses – mainstream

Indigenous specific strategic responses

  • Aboriginal Health Care Framework 2019–2024 (under development at time of writing)
  • Aboriginal Health Impact Statement Policy Directive
Northern Territory

Governance

  • NT Department of Health
  • Implementation of the NT Suicide Prevention Strategic Framework 2018–2023 will be overseen by the Northern Territory Suicide Prevention Coordination Committee (NTSPCC), convened by the NT Department of Health. The NTSPCC includes government departments and non-government organisations providing representation for those whose lives have been impacted by suicide and suicidal behaviour. The purpose of the NTSPCC is to:
    • provide strategic advice and support and to oversee a multi sectoral approach to halving the incidence of suicide in the NT over the next ten years.
    • contribute to the development and monitoring of the NT Suicide Prevention Strategic Framework 2018–2023
    • Provide strategic advice to the monitoring of coordinated suicide prevention activities across the Territory (taking into account factors such as regional integration, capacity, capability, quality and safety)
    • Utilise and form interagency working parties, when necessary, to progress areas of work for the NTSPCC.  The Committee may invite individuals with specialist expertise to participate in working parties as necessary
    • Provide advice and communication channels for the flow of information about suicide prevention initiatives.
  • The NTSPCC reports to the NT Legislative Council’s Children and Families Standing Committee

Strategic responses – mainstream

  • NT Health Strategic Plan 2018–2022
  • Northern Territory Mental Health Service Strategic Plan 2015–2021
  • NT Suicide Prevention Strategic Framework 2018–2023 – implemented through a NT Suicide Prevention Strategic Framework Implementation Plan (NTSPSFIP) 2018–2023
  • Northern Territory Child and Adolescent Health and Wellbeing Strategic Plan 2018–2028
  • Northern Territory Families Strategic Plan 2017–2020

Regional planning under the Northern Territory Suicide Prevention Strategic Framework Implementation Plan (NTSPSFIP)

Reference: NT SP Framework at p.27
  • Identify the planning group – the first step is to identify who will participate in the planning and implementation process. This might include stakeholders from: local service providers, Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander Elders, leaders, interested community members or other groups such as sports clubs. It does not need to be a new committee or group. It may be an existing community network, committee, or informal group of people who meet for other purposes related to improving the wellbeing of individuals, families or the community as whole.
  • Collaborative critical conversation of the current state – the planning network or group can undertake a critical conversation regarding the current state of local suicide prevention and intervention activities. Questions that might inform this assessment include:
    • Who are the priority groups in this region?
    • What services or initiatives are currently offered to support suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention?
    • What do we currently do in each of the 11 focus elements (surveillance, media, awareness etc.)?
    • Where are our strengths?
    • What do we need?
  • Identify the future state – once the current state conversations have occurred, consider future needs. Questions to inform this discussion might include:
    • What are the gaps in our services?
    • What do we need to offer to support our various priority groups?
    • What needs to be done to fill the focus element gaps?
  • Develop a Plan – use information gained from these discussions to develop a set of actions for your region. These actions should be measurable and align to the goals, outcomes and focus elements in the NTSPSF Implementation Plan.

Indigenous specific strategic responses

Western Australia

Governance

  • Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention
  • Government of Western Australia Mental Health Commission
  • Government of Western Australia Chief Psychiatrist

Strategic responses – mainstream

  • Western Australian Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Services Plan 2015–2025
  • Suicide Prevention 2020: Together We Can Save Lives (2015, p.30) – aims to reduce the number of suicides in WA by 50 per cent over the next decade. A Suicide Prevention 2020 Implementation Plan for 2015–2020 will detail activities, resources and lead agencies required. The Implementation Plan will define actions, allocate responsibility, and identify outputs and outcomes. Progressive independent evaluation will be implemented to enable effective monitoring and reporting to ensure ongoing improvement. Actions that are significantly related to mental health, alcohol and other drug promotion, prevention and service delivery will also be concurrently addressed through the Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Services Plan 2015–2025.
  • Implemented by the WA Mental Health Commission in collaboration with the Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention, strategic partners, services and relevant government agencies.

Indigenous specific strategic responses

Victoria

Governance

Reference: Vic SP Fr, p.28
  • The Victorian Government will drive the implementation of the Victorian Suicide Prevention Framework 2016–2025 through ensuring cross-government leadership and accountability.
  • The government will consult regularly with the Expert Taskforce on Mental Health on progress with the suicide prevention strategy and emerging issues in the community, and on the development of new initiatives.
  • The government will also consult other key advisory groups on the effective approaches to suicide prevention in key vulnerable groups, including specifically the Aboriginal and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse and intersex communities. Local suicide prevention groups will be established to oversee the development of the place-based trials.
  • These groups will be supported by the Department of Health and Human Services and partners.
  • The government will report annually on progress, with suicide prevention as part of the annual report to parliament on mental health.
  • The measure for assessing progress will be the age standardised rate of deaths from intentional self-harm as reported annually by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in its Causes of death publication.
  • The suicide prevention framework will be evaluated, including evaluation of the effectiveness of individual interventions.

Strategic responses – mainstream

Reference: Vic SP Fr, p.9
  • Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2015–2019
  • Victoria’s 10-year mental health plan
  • Through the Victorian Suicide Prevention Framework 2016–2025, the government is committed to halving the rate of suicide deaths by 2025. This target is guided by a broader vision, similar to the Vision Zero approach to road safety and the international Zero Suicides in Health Care approach. We aim to keep working on suicide prevention until there are no suicide deaths.
    • The government aims to reduce the gap in suicide rates between particular vulnerable groups and the general population.
    • The framework sets these long-term targets and the principles and objectives to guide government decisions over the next 10 years.
    • It also outlines the key actions over the next three years to support progress towards meeting the target. Many of the actions build on existing proven strategies but there is also a focus on investment in new initiatives. The framework includes universal initiatives and initiatives that aim to respond to the needs of vulnerable and at-risk groups.
  • Victoria’s Correctional Suicide Prevention Framework has identified a set of foundation principles to inform prevention activities. These include those from the LIFE Framework, plus additional principles relevant to the correctional setting.

Indigenous specific strategic responses

  • Balit Murrap: Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing framework 2017–2027 has been developed by an Aboriginal Social and Emotional Reference Group.
  • The above aligns with Korin Korin Balit-Djak, the 2017–2027 mental health plan and suicide prevention framework
Tasmania

Governance

Reference: Tas SPS, p.11
  • Overall responsibility for implementing and monitoring the Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Strategy (2016–2020) will reside with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), with the support of the Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Committee (TSPC) and the Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Community Network (TSPCN).
  • It will also require the involvement of people with lived experience, clinicians, the Tasmanian Health Service (THS), the community sector, sectors outside of health such as education, emergency services, media, justice, workplaces, industry and other key stakeholders.
  • Primary Health Tasmania (PHT) will also have a key role as a member of the TSPC to ensure that Tasmania can leverage national mental health and suicide prevention reforms and available resources to complement regional approaches to suicide prevention.
  • DHHS will provide an annual report to the Minister for Health on progress against the key actions outlined in the Strategy.

Strategic responses – mainstream

Indigenous specific strategic responses

Australian Capital Territory

Governance

  • Canberra Health Services
  • ACT Health Directorate

Strategic responses – mainstream

Indigenous specific strategic responses

Regional focus
Policy document Reference Description
Fifth Plan (2017–23) Action 1.1 (IP) p 5–7
  • The Commonwealth will direct PHNs to jointly develop regional plans with LHNs and direct to publicly release draft plans for public comment
Action 2.2, p.21
  • Governments will work with PHNs and LHNs to implement integrated planning and service delivery at the regional level. This will include:
  • Engaging with the local community, including consumers and carers, community-managed organisations, ACCHSs, NDIS providers, the NDIA, private providers and social service agencies
Action 2.3, p.21
  • … Undertaking joint regional mental health needs assessment to identify gaps, duplication and inefficiencies to improve sustainability
Action 2.5, p.21
  • … Developing joint regional mental health and suicide prevention plans and commissioning services according to those plans
Action 2.7, p.21
  • … Developing region-wide multi-agency agreements, shared care pathways, triage protocols and information-sharing protocols to improve integration and assist consumers and carers to navigate the system
PHN Guidelines (2015) Regional Approach to Suicide Prevention p.1
  • In 2016–17 PHNs are expected to:
    • undertake planning of community-based suicide prevention activity, through a more integrated and systems-based approach in partnership with Local Hospital Networks (LHNs) and other local organisations;
    • commence commissioning of community-based suicide prevention activities within the context of this plan; and
    • undertake planning and commissioning of community-based suicide prevention activities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that are integrated with drug and alcohol services, mental health services and social and emotional wellbeing services.
  • Longer term PHNs will be expected to:
    • ensure there is agreement within the region, including with LHNs, about the need to support person-centred follow-up care to individuals who have self-harmed or attempted suicide, and that there is no ambiguity in the responsibility for provision of this care;
    • continue commissioning of community-based suicide prevention activities, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; and
  • build the capacity of primary care services to support people at risk of suicide.

Indigenous leadership

Policy document Reference Description
GDD (2017) Theme 4, p.5
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be trained, employed, empowered and valued to:
    • lead across all parts of the Australian mental health system that are dedicated to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing and mental health and to reducing suicide, and in all parts of that system used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • lead in all areas of government activity that affect the wellbeing and mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Planning

Policy document Reference Description
Fifth Plan (2017–23) Action 2.5, p.21
  •  Developing joint regional mental health and suicide prevention plans and commissioning services according to those plans
Action 10, p.33
  • Regional plans to connect culturally informed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander SP and postvention services locally
NATSISPS (2013) Outcome 4.2, p.38
  • There is development of governance and infrastructure to and capacity for planning to support regional and local coordination of suicide prevention
  • Investigate feasibility of approaches to regional coordination of SP including, but not limited to, roles of key government agencies and partners
  • Identify models for governance to support interagency approaches to coordinated SP
  • Develop data, information and resources to support regional level planning and coordination of strategies
  • Examine models for pooling of funds to support coordinated approaches to prevention
NATSIHP (2013–23) Strategy 1D, p16
  • Improved regional planning and coordination of health care services across sectors and providers.
MH&SEWB Fr (2017–2023) Outcome 4.3, p.41
  • Coordinate and integrate MH&SEWB substance misuse, SP and social health services and programs to ensure clients experience seamless transitions between them

Regional Coordinators

Policy document Reference Description
WA SP 2020 (2015) p.35
  • The Mental Health Commission will phase in qualified suicide prevention coordinators within mental health and/or drug and alcohol services across regions in need.
  • The suicide prevention coordinators will be integrated into mental health and alcohol and other drug services, with stronger connections to interagency government, health and community service committees to consolidate collaboration across sectors.
  • This is consistent with recommendations contained in the evaluation of the 2009–13 Strategy and will strengthen sustainability of localised, strategic community coordination by improving local coordination… This will be a phased in approach to ensure community readiness, service responsiveness and ongoing improvement. The qualified suicide prevention coordinators will initially be located in north and east metropolitan Perth, and the Kimberley, South West and Wheatbelt regions. The program design will adopt the best elements of the previous Community Action Plans and existing alcohol and other drugs prevention model in Western Australia.
  • National crisis lines and online resources funded by the Commonwealth will be promoted across Western Australia including Suicide Call Back Service, Reachout, headspace, beyondblue, QLife (for LGBTIQ people) and Lifeline.