Inspiring suicide prevention address by the Hon. Julia Gillard “We must continue to lead with determination and hope, now more than ever”
The Honourable Julia Gillard, former Prime minister of Australia and current Chair of Beyond Blue delivered an inspirational keynote address at the National Suicide Prevention Australia conference held in Melbourne on 23-25 July 2019. She stressed the importance of a collaborative approach to addressing the complexity of suicide prevention which will require a well-funded long term plan that takes a social determinant, person-centred approach spanning across prevention to crisis support.
Many of the key messages delivered in her speech confirmed and reinforced the approach Le Va has taken for our two community-based national suicide prevention programmes FLO: Pasifika for Life and LifeKeepers. Both programmes were presented at the conference with positive feedback and support.
It is now widely acknowledged that “suicide prevention is everyone’s business” and in addition to working collaboratively across sectors and government agencies the Hon. Julia Gillard also emphasises the need for “taking and applying research evidence – both qualitative and quantitative – outside of clinical settings to empower people and communities in ways that are useful to them.”
Reaching broadly into communities will require innovative approaches and Hon. Gillard suggests “using technology and the channels on our smartphones that we use more and more to consume information, educate ourselves, connect with one another.” Le Va’s Aunty Dee evidence-informed problem-solving app is a key example of innovative and effective use of technology in suicide prevention.
Empowering communities was also stressed by Beyond Blue, an Australian organisation working in mental health, who are advocating for a universal system that targets a variety of positions on the continuum of suicidality, such as addressing early signs of distress through access to helplines, e-learning and upskilling community leaders and frontline staff in community gatekeeper programmes.
Gatekeeper community suicide prevention training has been identified as a key component of every suicide prevention national strategy. This important focus was supported in the keynote presentation which referred to research published by the University of Melbourne and Whereto Research Based Consulting in 2018. This research provided detailed advice on ways community members can support someone who may be at risk of suicide. The research confirmed that most people want to do more to prevent suicide in their communities, but don’t know how, that they were unsure of the warnings signs as well as how to start the conversation.
Julia Gillard’s full keynote speech can be accessed at this link.