• Member for Kimberley Josie Farrer. (AAP)Source: AAP
Kimberley MLA Josie Farrer moves a motion in the Parliament of Western Australia for an inquiry into the alarming number of youth suicides.
By
Andrea Booth

Source:
NITV News
17 Mar 2016 - 6:25 PM  UPDATED 17 Mar 2016 - 6:28 PM

Western Australia needs a parliamentary inquiry "to determine what more can be done to halt the worrying number of youth suicides among Aboriginal youth in WA," the state's parliament heard on Wednesday. 

Kimberley MLA Josie Farrer said the parliament needed to "define exactly what has been tried, what hasn’t worked and what has," and allocate funds and resources accordingly.

A leaked government report provided to The Point by National Indigenous Times this week says the rate of Indigenous suicides has doubled in the Kimberley region over the past five years.

"Each time I hear of such tragedy occurring I ask myself how can this still be happening," Ms Farrer said.

But Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier has rejected the call, saying "we do not need another inquiry."

"We know what the situation is, we know what the problems are," Mr Collier said in a statement.

"That is why we have made so much significant change in recent years, in particular with the establishment of the reform unit."

Searching for reasons

Ms Farrer said many children were growing up "confused angry and frustrated, bored".

Remote communities don't have after-school activities, youth services or formal youth centres, weekend sporting activities and swimming pools, she said. 

"We must invest in our youth.

"We must show them the alternatives to suicide because right now many youth see suicide as not a possible option. It’s their only option."

Ms Farrer said there were not enough drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres in the Kimberley, with just one in the vast region - the Milliya Rumurra Alcohol Treatment Centre in Broome.

Heartbreak in Kimberley

Between the years 2000 and 2010, there were 100 suicides, according to the leaked Kimberley Roundtable Report. 

Indigenous Australians living in the Kimberley region are now eight times more likely to take their lives than non-Indigenous people, the paper states.

One of those was particularly "heartbreaking", Ms Farrer said, when a "beautiful" 10-year-old girl took her life in the small community of Looma, about 200 kilometres out of Broome.

"In June 2014 I pleaded with the Liberal national government not to cease funding the Derby Community Action Plan [which delivered suicide prevention services to the region], which included Looma, where this tragedy occurred.

"But I was ignored," she said.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.