Subjects: Kimberley Suicide Prevention roundtable, FASD, Coroners report
Ken Wyatt: It’s the first announcement I want to make is on providing $2 million to an organisation in the Pilbara for Pathways to Excellent Basketball Program for young women in the Pilbara region.
This will enable them to participate in groups across the Pilbara to have that level of intervention and support and build their capacity to be a part of their community in the sporting arena, but more importantly, collectively as future young leaders.
Today we’ve had a roundtable for the Kimberley Suicide Trial. As usual, the round of discussions were rich in community strength, the positioning of representatives from all of the communities across the Kimberley in helping shape the directions that we need to consider in reducing suicides in the Kimberley region.
Today I’ve had the great privilege of having Senator Patrick Dodson join me; Josie, who represents this region is a state member and the honourable Roger Cook, Minister for Health.
The State and Commonwealth are committed to reducing suicides across this nation, but in particular, both Minister Cook and I along with the Treasurer Ben Wyatt and other members of the State Cabinet will work on, not only the recommendations of the coronial inquiry, but other reports that are referenced in that document.
All of the matters relating to our young people are critical. They’ve talked to us about culture, the strength of their community, but they’ve also previously said that they want role models and mentors to guide them.
Today I’m also adding to the forum’s opportunity 130,000 for communities to map the services that are being delivered but also the services that they need. So it’s been a great outcome, the focus is certainly community, the role of leadership and the role of youth. All very powerful, poignant points today.
This group of people that have come in from government agencies and from community have focussed on the ways in which they work. They are not closing any door at all. They’re opening doors, they’re looking at opportunities and they’re sharing resources, ideas, but more importantly, a commitment. I’d like to invite Josie to make a few comments given it’s your area.
JOSIE FARRER: As the member for Kimberley, I feel that having this opportunity to speak in regards to the issues that we’ve been facing for quite some time, this issue in regards to suicide has always been, I guess, contentious.
But for myself it’s always been a passion that I want to have parliament take up. I guess the difference was that there was a committee set up probably in 2008, which didn’t identify Indigenous youth suicide, but now that it has come up, I think that all of us in the Kimberley need to sit up and to do whatever necessary there is to help to combat this.
And with the various organisations that have been set up in the Kimberley, I think it’s really good that people of now, today at this roundtable talk, people have identified where some of the gaps are and hopefully we can close some of those gaps.
With the funding that our Health Minister Ken Wyatt has put and given to do some of this work, I feel reassured that we will deliver what our people in the Kimberley want to hear.
ROGER COOK: Today’s roundtable is another remind of just the strength in this community and their collective commitment to addressing the issues of and around suicide.
The insights they showed around- in suicide prevention was really heartening and very important for the State Government to work with the community and with the Commonwealth Government to make sure that we collectively come as one to address the issue of suicide and make sure we have suicide prevention right at the top of our agenda.
I’d like to thank the Commonwealth for the resources they’ve provided to ensure that we sort of have these forums where we can get really good conversations, shared experience and really understand what works.
The State Government is committed to responding to the recommendations from the Coroner’s report as well as the full recommendations from the [indistinct] report of 2016.
And what we’ll be doing now is working closely with the community, working with the Commonwealth Government to ensure that we’ve got a comprehensive response, one which is informed by community, designed by community and largely driven through a community services delivery model.
PATRICK DODSON: Look, it’s always great to see not only the Commonwealth and the State Government working together, but the participation of those in the community who deal with the very nature of the problem that the resources that have been provided by the Commonwealth are seeking to define some approaches.
And to have very robust discussions about how to approach things and have some frustrations when data can’t be shared because of ethics arrangements. And that makes it difficult at times to get a baseline upon which to assess whether you’re making progress or not.
But these are very, very positive discussions here today and I think that the work that the young people have been embarking upon, their leadership is starting to shine through.
The work that KAMS has been doing in the region, consulting the communities and the nature of the work that KALACC itself has being doing in trying to get a cultural framework for consideration by service providers and others ultimately, as to how some of those matters mentioned by the Coroner about cultural protocols and cultural shifts can in fact be tangibly grappled with this.
So these things take a bit of time. There are re-learnings to be made and I think there’s education on both side that takes place when you have a dialogue rather than simply an argument and the progress of this is clearly focussed on how do we assist families? How do we reduce the numbers of young people taking their lives prematurely? And how do we create a better civil society where the resources can deliver the needs that people have in housing, in health, education and other things?
So these are- this is just one part of that but a great example of how the community and the layers of Government.
And I thank Minister Wyatt for his constant interest in this area and for coming up and for providing his insights into things. And I thank Roger Cook who I know is a very man in the State for his interest today.
And then certainly my local member Josie Farrer, I thank her for her constant interest and her constant petitioning and the raising of these matters in the State Parliament, and for keeping these matters abreast in the community.
So thanks very much.
Unidentified Speaker: Yeah so I’d just like to express my gratitude for being here as a youth representative from the West Kimberley that we are getting our voices heard and we are being allowed the opportunity to run projects through the trial site that KAMS are leading with.
So I guess being here as a young person and being heard is all part of the empowerment and the support that we’ve felt through this working group since we’ve been allowed a seat at the table has been heartfelt.
And there is numbers growing in here now, there’s more young people around the table which does make me feel very good. Thank you.
Unidentified Speaker: Do we have any questions?
Questions: Minister, can you just explain why we need this $130,000 in money to map services? I mean, does the Government not already know where those services are needed?
We’ve had the Coroners report, we’ve had 40 other reports on this issue.
Why do we need $130,000 more to find out where these services need to go?
Ken Wyatt: Well these- this funding will go to a number of communities. We’ve already, at the local level- the community have developed maps.
They’ve developed them themselves to understand what agencies exist in their town – non-government organisations providing services, those organisations that are indigenous.
And on that basis they’re pulling them together and having discussions around how do you better coordinate services. One of the messages that came from young people right at the beginning was suicides don’t happen between nine and five.
And so in the process of mapping they’re doing it from the early years of life right through to the end point. It’s given them an understanding of what’s in their community. And then from that they’re identifying gaps.
But they’re sharing the information across each of the towns and by the time they’ve finished the community of the Kimberley will have a good understanding of the range of services that are being offered. Governments know it.
But it’s better when a community plots and maps and determines the value of each of those organisations as well.
Question: Just on that 9 to 5 service provision, one of the Coroner’s recommendations was that there be a 24 hour access to a psychiatrist via video link.
Is that something that you support and want to see?
Ken Wyatt: Actually that’s something that was raised in the room today by Minister Cook’s department, that they are providing 24/7 service here in Broome.
The issues in local communities further out is they want some form of service to be available 24/7 for young people who need it.
That’s why they’re mapping services and they’re planning their own ways of providing that level of service.
Question: Could that be done by video link with the Coroner’s recommendation?
Ken Wyatt: Yes it can.
Question: Just with the national [indistinct] action plan, it says the Government will consider NDIS support for families. What progress have you made on that front? And when can we expect an outcome?
Ken Wyatt: Well that’s the- is- it sits with another colleague of mine. I know that work is being done in that regard because this really impacts across probably four Federal Ministers and those discussions are occurring.
The report that was done by Sharman Stone MP in a House of Rep Standing Committee was used as the basis to consider some of the options that the Commonwealth needed to look at.
But with NDIS now coming into play following the trials, then there’ll be ongoing discussions as to where people with FASD, that level of cognitive impairment are considered in the context of services they can access.
Question: With alcohol at the centre of FASD, were you disappointed to hear the WA Premier categorically knock back region-wide restrictions less than a week after the report was released?
Ken Wyatt: Look, I think with alcohol, it’s served as a social mechanism for hundreds of years.
There are choices that people make but in some locations, restrictions have been imposed because a community has asked for it or the extent of the problem has been so significant that governments have had to act.
To take a regional or a global approach is fundamentally hitting a problem with a sledgehammer.
We need to look at it side by side and the Premier is quite right, in this instance, to say that he’s not going to implement that wide based approach.
Question: Just a couple of other points on the Coroner’s report – will you recognise the work of elders under the CDEP?
Ken Wyatt: Look, because I’m Indigenous, I recognise and respect my elders and the work that used to happen under the CDEP with elders was brilliant, and what elders are asking for is a similar recognition.
Now, governments will consider those propositions when they’re brought forward to them and so, in the course of Senator Scullion’s decisions, he will consider those requests.
Question: How can the CDEP be used to compensate community residents, young adult, in some of these areas?
Ken Wyatt: I think you’d have to look at it on a case by case basis and consider how- if it was me, I’d be looking at what’s the broad benefit, how that’s going to be of use to the community, the effectiveness of what the community is seeking in it because I’ve had communities make comment to me that they’re finding that their involvement has been beneficial.
A couple of other areas have said that it’s not what they’ve wanted.
Unidentified Speaker: We got the last question, I think. We’ve really got to catch a plane shortly.
Question: Sure. Coles and Woolworths are the major suppliers of takeaway alcohol in many of these suicide hotspots.
Is the Government talking them about the sale of alcohol in these places and do you think it should be up to local councils and communities to actually take these multinationals on?
Ken Wyatt: That’s a question I will hand to the Health Minister given that he’s in State Cabinet.
Question: But don’t you think there needs to be a federal [indistinct]?
Ken Wyatt: It’s a state responsibility and I don’t think the State would want to hand over their responsibilities to the Commonwealth.
Roger Cook: Unless it’s a responsibility for funding.
Look, the issue around liquor sales and the control of liquor is the responsibility of the Minister for Racing and Gaming so I won’t try and interpret his particular portfolio area.
But obviously, I believe that bottle shop owners right across our community have a role to play in making sure that we have social, [indistinct] responsible service of alcohol, not just over the bar but in bottle shops as well.
So the message for groups such as Coles and Woolworths is that they should take community needs into account when they establish their bottle shops.
Question: Can I get one question in?
Ken, and even Pat, this is an issue that’s been going on for quite some time in the Kimberley.
Why do you think it’s taken this long to get to the point where you have a roundtable like this?
Patrick Dodson: I’m not sure which issue you’re talking about. There’s so many. The issue of…
Patrick Dodson: Okay. Well, look, it is a sad and tragic matter that we come around the table to try and find in roads too, in the light of good work that’s been done in the past by Alistair [indistinct] and other people that have looked at these matters.
Sometimes, it takes the tragedies that we’ve seen in the recent Coronial report to remind us that a 10-year-old finds life so terrible that the best option is to take her life. So, I think the community often is in pain and in trauma itself as a consequence of these things.
It does take a bit of time to get the insights that the Coroner has brought, to bear, I think in this a very good report, particularly at the cultural sensitivities that mainstream deliverers of services have got to come to terms with and we saw some of that in the meetings today.
So it’s a learning process on all sides. Maybe the First Nations think it’s far overdue but bureaucracies of government often take a while to really understand what this means from the perspective of First Nations people.
But there’s an openness to it and that’s the benefit of this and there’s been a process of education, I think, that’s been going on through these discussions, which hopefully will lead to better outcomes going forward.
Ken Wyatt: We’ve been meeting now for just under two years. Up the trial site, established it and then what we’ve done is we’ve allowed the conversations to evolve.
And what’s been tremendous about this trial, as I said in the meeting, is the openness now around solutions that are community-led, community-based, with a community focus.
Listening to community representatives today in that first session, they talked of the things that they’re doing and they’re tangible, real things, that impact for their community, their families and their children.
But the government agencies have also become very open in sharing information and working with community leadership. And then Rob and I co-chair it because this is only one we co-chair with the community.
We have a shared responsibility of having leadership by the Commonwealth, but leadership at the community level to carry on all of the work after each meeting. And I think this model is a great model and I think we will see a reflection of those practices working in the reduction of suicides.
When I looked at some of the data, the thing that struck me is a lot of these suicides were during the school holiday period, which means schools and teachers have a tremendous impact on young people in being there for them as well.
So we’re bringing together the [indistinct] support of this.
Question: Okay. Would you say from today’s roundtable meeting, what will be the one thing that came out of it as a strong message for you?
Ken Wyatt: The honesty, the tension of difference, but the way in which people want to work together because they don’t want a single life lost and their commitment, so those are tangible things.
Roger Cook: Thank you very much.