• Australia Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. (AAP)
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says the epidemic of Indigenous suicide is such that it should be seen as a national disaster or emergency.
7 May 2019 - 10:20 AM  UPDATED 7 May 2019 - 10:20 AM

Content Warning: This article discusses suicide

Indigenous suicide is now at the level of a national emergency, Bill Shorten has declared.

The Labor leader says Australia needs to redefine its relationship with its Indigenous people from one of indifference or paternalism to a true partnership.

"I think it's a national disaster, (a) national emergency," he told ABC's Q&A on Monday night.

"The issue of suicide is massive. But also the issue of our first Australians and the inequality of the lives that many of them live is massive. There's an intersection."

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He noted both his party and the coalition had committed to a range of suicide prevention projects, particularly ones aimed at young people, during the lead-up to the May 18 election.

But, he said, Labor also had a unique idea to help make sure Indigenous people received holistic solutions: making an Indigenous man, Pat Dodson, the minister.

"Sometimes we judge ourselves by how many billionaires we have on the Forbes Rich List," Mr Shorten said.

"I have a view we should judge ourselves by if we have great disadvantage."

Mr Dodson spoke at Labor's campaign launch on Sunday, releasing the party's plans for working with Indigenous people.

These include creating a system of regional assemblies and a Voice to the national parliament, establishing a national Makarrata commission and local truth-telling programs, building a national resting place for the unknown warriors, and giving justice and compensation to survivors of the stolen generation.

AAP

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (up to age 25). More information about mental health is available at Beyond Blue.

 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander services available are available at NACCHO member servicesthe Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or Headspace’s Yarn Safe. 

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