• A tour at Ubirr rock in Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory. (AAP)Source: AAP
Australians are being urged to connect with Indigenous culture and history as part of a new mental health and suicide prevention campaign.
22 Mar 2017 - 3:51 PM  UPDATED 24 Mar 2017 - 8:18 AM

The What’s Missing campaign seeks to reconnect Indigenous Australians with their impressive cultural traditions in the face of dramatic rises in self harm and suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

Suicide rates among First Nations people are twice the national rate, and five times the national rate for young people.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015 Causes of Death data revealed that for NSW, Qld, SA, WA and NT, the standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (25.5 per 100,000) was twice the rate of non-Indigenous people (12.5 per 100,000).

Belinda Duarte, CEO of Culture is Life and Wotjobaluk descendant of the Wimmera said positive affirmation of culture was key to reducing high rates of suicide.

“We know this is complex, but Aboriginal community-led activity across service sectors is critically important. Access to society’s opportunities and connections to culture underpin what’s needed to assist in the prevention of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people”, she said.

An Elders Report introduced by then Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda and Professor Pat Dudgeon collected evidence on effective factors in Indigenous suicide prevention.

They found that affirming connections to culture and Country, and efforts to ensure equitable social determinants of health, housing, employment, and emotional wellbeing, play a crucial role in keeping young people safe from suicide and self-harm.

“Think of the pride it gives young Māori kids to see New Zealanders of all races sharing their pride in Māori culture through the Haka or Māori songs and language. That’s the kind of uplifting and unifying tradition that I think Australia and Australians yearn to connect with. It’s our land’s ancestral lineage,” said Ms

To join the campaign online, use the hashtags #cultureislife #whatsmissing and tag us at @cultureislife www.cultureislife.org

If you need help or support, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24 hours-a-day) or contact your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation. If you have questions for the Australian Human Rights Commission contact the National Information line on: 1300 656 419 or 02 9284 9888.