Red Dust Role Models will grow its innovative, youth-focussed health and wellbeing programs in Central Australia, with $1.2 million support from the Morrison Government.


“The expansion will build on Red Dust’s success, providing additional mental health and suicide prevention supports for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in the region,” said Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM.


“It’s clear from the discussions I have had with our people about suicide that listening to and yarning with young people and understanding their perspectives is a vital first step.


“Red Dust knows this and its expanded activities will connect with more young people, working to help them avoid crises that, too often, can lead to despair.”


The organisation has been working in the field for around 20 years and currently provides services to children and young people in Alice Springs and eight remote communities.


These programs are founded on four key goals: improving health, realising identity, pursuing aspirations, and building cross-cultural competency.


Red Dust CEO Scott Stirling and chief strategic adviser Jonathan Lindsay-Tjapaltjarri Hermawan welcomed the funding commitment.


“This is a really positive outcome for young people of the Northern Territory,” he said.


“Red Dust programs are built on a community-as-family model which draws on the strengths of all worlds that surround young people. This includes the vast protective mechanisms and values inherent to Indigenous people including community as family as well as culture and identity as a lifeline, not a perk.


“We look forward to working, with the support of the Australian Government, to strengthen Red Dust Role models from the Red Dust - who lead, love and support their own youth through the path from despair to destiny.”


Rates of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people aged 5 to 17 years are five times higher than other Australians of the same age.


“This is a grave and heartbreaking challenge for our nation, and one I am deeply committed to confronting,” said Minister Wyatt.


“I am excited that Red Dust, which has such longstanding and deep connections with local communities, is equally intent on turning this around and helping our young people reach their full potential.”


The Red Dust expansion is the latest in a series of projects to reduce the incidence of suicide, funded by the Morrison Government, including:


·         The Global Roaming sports and leadership program in the Pilbara and Kimberley

·         The rollout of the Be You school-based mental health education program

·         The development by headspace National of a social media campaign to reduce stigma and encourage young people to seek help

·         The expansion of headspace National’s Young Ambassadors for Mental Health project to include a special focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth

·         Support for families dealing with grief, with a focus on suicide prevention and early intervention


The Morrison Government has also extended its Suicide Prevention Trials and committed $1.45 billion for Primary Health Networks all around Australia to commission regionally and culturally appropriate mental health and suicide prevention services.