On behalf of the Morrison Government, I am very pleased to announce that the Government, through the Western Victoria PHN, will provide $531,022 over two years (2020-21 to 2021-22) to support the work of the Geelong Child Youth Suicide Prevention Protocol Group (the Group) as part of a whole-of-community place-based suicide prevention initiative in Geelong.

Since January 2020, the Geelong region has reported five youth suicides.  Suicide has a ripple effect throughout our communities. Our thoughts are with the families, friends, schools and communities affected by the death of these young people.

The Government acknowledges the impact of suicide and is committed to reducing suicide through a range of initiatives.

Importantly, Ms Christine Morgan has been appointed by the Prime Minister as the National Suicide Prevention Adviser to understand how we can better respond to suicide. I would like to thank Ms Morgan for travelling to Geelong this week to listen to the experiences of those affected by these most recent suicides.

I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of the local community in Geelong in coming together rapidly and collaboratively to provide support.

The inter-agency Group which was established back in February is a key example of how we all need to work together to prevent and respond to suicide.

The Group has brought together representatives from health, education, police, ambulance, youth mental health and other community services. All levels of government are participating in the Group so that we can ensure we are providing the relevant supports for the region.

The Group has already committed to a range of actions to support the Geelong community. These include:

  • Working with schools across Government, Catholic and Independent sectors to provide training and support to students and staff.
  • Building capacity around risk assessment, risk monitoring and risk identification in young people, including through working with frontline services.
  • Developing a communications strategy through schools for friends, parents, family and the broader community on understanding and responding to risk.

The Group is continuing to work together closely and will meet up until the end of June to keep progressing this critical work.

I am pleased to advise that the work will also continue on a longer-term basis thanks to a commitment from the Government’s Primary Health Network in the region.

The initiative aims to build a more connected and integrated system in the Geelong region to better support those at risk of suicide.

The initiative will focus on:

  • Providing clarity on existing supports and identifying gaps and opportunities in the region;
  • Supporting a locally developed suicide prevention ‘action plan’ that will inform a sustainable regional mental health and suicide prevention plan for western Victoria; and
  • A collective impact approach to suicide prevention through cross-sectoral and whole-of-community engagement.

Key strategies and other priorities will be determined through consultation, including with local community, and those with a lived experience of suicide.

Western Victoria PHN has appointed Ms Annette Mercuri as an independent Chair to drive the work of the initiative.

18 June 2020