Albany Aboriginal community liaison officer to deliver suicide prevention plan for Great Southern

Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
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Southern Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Asha Bhat and Family Violence and Prevention Legal Service manager Oscar Colbung.
Camera IconSouthern Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Asha Bhat and Family Violence and Prevention Legal Service manager Oscar Colbung. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

An Aboriginal community liaison officer will be employed in Albany to roll out a region-specific plan to implement culturally appropriate solutions to prevent Aboriginal suicide in the Great Southern.

Southern Aboriginal Corporation was one of nine Aboriginal-controlled organisations to receive a contract from the WA Government last week to employ an Aboriginal community liaison officer to work directly with the community to implement solutions to prevent suicide.

The initiative comes as part of the WA Suicide Prevention Framework 2021-2025 which aims to implement culturally informed social and emotional wellbeing initiatives designed by and for Aboriginal people tailored to each region of the State.

Between 2016 and 2019, WA had the highest age-standardised rate of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia.

SAC chief executive Asha Bhat said a plan to prevent Aboriginal suicide in the Great Southern had already been developed by an independent agency.

The local community officer, to be employed by SAC, will support the implementation of the plan locally, which will be reviewed and updated each year to reflect changing community priorities.

Ms Bhat said SAC would establish a regional governance group involving diverse representatives from different Great Southern organisations and locations to inform the strategy.

“SAC’s community liaison officer will focus on implementing activities relating to suicide prevention and early intervention, as well as support and quality aftercare following a suicide attempt,” she said.

“The community liaison officer will be establishing the trusted relationships and best pathways to develop and implement support and quality aftercare following a suicide attempt.

“This will take time and extensive consultation to develop throughout the region.”

Ms Bhat said once the role started, the Aboriginal community liaison officer would provide support and aftercare to individuals, families and carers.

“SAC will provide a holistic and culturally appropriate approach to suicide prevention and early intervention, as well as support and aftercare following a suicide attempt,” Ms Bhat said.

“This includes documenting pathways, identifying and implementing training, enhancing a ‘wrap-around’ service, and providing follow-up engagement.”

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