Australia

Suicide prevention focus of Labor's $115 million for Indigenous health

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Bill Shorten is campaigning in the Northern Territory after spending the past week in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and WA targeting mainly Liberal-held seats.

Preventing youth suicide will be a key focus of a new $115 million plan to tackle Indigenous health to be announced by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Thursday. 

The Labor leader will visit the Tiwi Islands off Darwin as he campaigns on health care and Indigenous affairs.

Labor says its package is about ensuring First Australians have "the right to grow old". 

"I understand that talking about Indigenous health mightn't change an election, but it can change the nation," Mr Shorten told reporters in Darwin on Thursday. 

"This country has to be the best we can be in the way that we offer the same opportunities to all Australians. When First Australians have lesser health outcomes then all of Australia is diminished." 

The announcement includes almost $30 million for Indigenous youth mental health and suicide prevention, following a spate of Indigenous suicides in remote areas. 

Last month, NITV reported that four Indigenous young people took their lives in separate incidences in just 40 hours. 

In 2018, Indigenous suicides accounted for 40 per cent of all youth suicides, despite Aboriginal youth making up only 5 per cent of children aged 17 or younger. 

A Coroner said that a spate of suicides among young Indigenous people were shaped by cross-generational trauma and poverty.
A Coroner said that a spate of suicides among young Indigenous people were shaped by cross-generational trauma and poverty.
Source - SBS/NITV - 14 March 2016

Mr Shorten will travel to Bathurst Island to make the announcement that aims to put First Australians at the centre of decision making. 

The plan will give the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations a primary role in delivering culturally appropriate and regionally specific primary healthcare services, and will review their funding agreement with the Commonwealth.

At the other end of the country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is continuing to campaign in Tasmania. 

He is set to promise an extra $25 million for Tasmanian health services as the Coalition eyes crucial seat gains in the Apple Isle. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison meets locals at Molly Malone's Irish Pub in Devonport, Tasmania, Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (AAP Image/GETTY IMAGES/POOL/Ryan Pierse)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison enjoys a beer at the pub in Devonport in Tasmania on Wednesday night.
Getty

The Liberals are hoping they can pick up two of the state's five lower house seats, with the northern electorates of Bass and Braddon most likely to change hands. 

"Our new North and North West Tasmanian Health Plan will deliver more doctors, more services and more critical health infrastructure," Mr Morrison said. 

The package includes $10 million for a community health centre in Launceston's south to meet increased demand for renal and oral health services.

The Greens have also unveiled a youth mental health policy that includes training young people to become peer workers. 

Mental health spokesperson Rachel Siewert said they would create 1,000 places in a national peer workforce trial.

“Support during a crisis period saves lives, and yet these services are too often fragmented and difficult to access, meaning people fall through the cracks," Senator Siewert said. 

Additional reporting by AAP

Readers needing mental health support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, SANE Australia Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263)  or MensLine Australia  on 1300 78 99 78.

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