New Program to Improve Social and Emotional Wellbeing of Aboriginal People in Regional WA

New Aboriginal family wellbeing training will be prioritised across the Kimberley, Pilbara and Goldfields regions, in a West Australian first to address social and emotional health risks in indigenous communities.

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA welcomed today’s State Government announcement to contribute $1 million over two years towards the pilot Aboriginal Family Wellbeing project to help prevent self-harm and suicide in the regions by strengthening families.

The project includes an accredited six-month Certificate II training program, which will be delivered jointly by the WA Mental Health Commission, AHCWA and the 22 Aboriginal Medical Services across the state.

AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson Cox said the initiative would ensure all Aboriginal Medical Services in WA had at least one key staff member skilled in delivering the program.

“This is about building the skills and confidence of our social and emotional wellbeing teams across all Aboriginal Medical Services so they can identify communities where there is real need to strengthen family wellbeing and, in turn, self-harm and suicide prevention strategies,” Ms Nelson Cox said.

“Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in Aboriginal communities.

“Statistics show that the suicide rate for indigenous Australians is almost twice the rate for non-indigenous Australians. And concerningly, the suicide rate of our young people aged 15 to 19 is five times as high as non-indigenous Australians.”

At least six trainers will be educated in the program in the first year, with a focus on the Kimberley, Pilbara and Goldfields regions. Other services and regions will be invited to participate in the second year.

“This is the first time that this training has been delivered in WA and we feel proud to have built a partnership with the Mental Health Commission to share this important initiative,” Ms Nelson Cox said.

“Until now, there has been a lack of specific Aboriginal family wellbeing training. We hope that by providing this new program it will lead to more and more trainers in the regions and real health benefits to our communities.”

AHCWA is the peak body for Aboriginal health in WA, with 22 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) currently engaged as members.

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