Indigenous leaders welcome the weekend’s mental health research and youth suicide prevention announcements and call for multi-party support for empowerment, equity and significantly increased investment in Indigenous primary mental health care.

Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) Director Professor Pat Dudgeon and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health (NATSILMH) Chair Mr Tom Brideson welcomed the weekend announcements on Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention.

In particular, Professor Dudgeon welcomed the news that $22.5 million in Indigenous specific grants from the Million Minds Research Fund had been made:

For years, Indigenous people have called for our community representatives, experts and leaders to lead research towards improving our wellbeing and mental health. This funding will support community-based and Indigenous-led research to make changes that make a difference by identifying best practice in the delivery of mental health services to Indigenous people; the best possible tools and resources for use in those services; and the best ways services can work in our communities to prevent mental health problems and suicide. These will give an opportunity to demonstrate the difference that Indigenous leadership can make in this context.

Professor Dudgeon also welcomed $19.6 million for new services to prevent Indigenous youth suicide, particularly in the Kimberley:

Our Kimberly communities are believed to have among the highest rates of suicide in the world, and a response of this scale is entirely appropriate. But we are waiting on more detail about the key ingredient – Indigenous governance and leadership in how that money is spent. Our community-controlled health services, in particular, must be supported to lead changes that make a difference and reduce suicide, particularly among our children and young people, in the Kimberly.

Mr Brideson commented:

There are further investment opportunities. As I said recently, justice reinvestment in relation to the enormous cost of imprisoning over 13,000 Indigenous people per annum has the potential to support Indigenous leaders to lead change to improve mental health. In fact, reinvesting just ten per cent of these imprisonment costs could result in an extra $100-120 million for Indigenous primary healthcare and drug and alcohol services that work to keep people out of prison in the first place.

Equitable Investment and supporting Indigenous leaders to lead changes that make a difference is the key to closing the Indigenous mental health gap and reducing suicide. We hope the weekend’s announcements are just the start of multi-party support to address to historical investment inequity and the disempowerment of our leaders and communities in this area.

Professor Dudgeon and Mr Brideson closed with the following call:

We call for a multi-party commitment to delivering empowerment, equity and significantly increased investment in Indigenous primary mental health care in the term of the next Australian Government. This goes beyond mental health and suicide prevention. The single biggest disease group contributing to Indigenous health inequality is mental health and substance abuse disorders. If Australian Governments are serious about Closing the Gap, significant additional Indigenous mental health investment must occur.

For more information on NATSILMH

For more information on CBPATSISP

For more information about ATSISPEP


  • For media enquiries and interview requests for Professor Dudgeon contact Ms Barb Ahmat on
    0424 433 429 and Mr Brideson, please contact Mr Chris Holland on 0438 409 149.
  • For more information on the appropriate reporting of mental illness and suicide see the
    Mindframe initiative: http://www.mindframe-media.info
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