Prominent Indigenous social justice commissioner June Oscar wants any person struggling with suicidal ideations to know just how important they truly are.
Ms Oscar told NITV’s The Point that she has a direct message for people who may be struggling.
“You belong to people, you belong to country, you have a strong cultural base, you are important, you are loved,” she said.
The Bunuba woman from the remote town of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia said community-driven solutions to suicide are some of the successful initiatives she has seen work.
“Programs and solutions that have been identified by community [and] that have been supported by funding, whether state or local government or the commonwealth, those programs have been identified and driven and managed by the very people who are to be benefiting from those programs and services. So, we need to be encouraging that," Ms Oscar said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be the leader of change in their communities.”
Ms Oscar said the recommendations made in last month’s inquest into the 13 suicides of Indigenous youth, must be acted upon by the entire nation and not just sit on paper.
“I think it’s upon all of us to act responsibly in regards to the recommendations," she said. "We all have an obligation to respond and to create safer and caring communities and accessible and effective services for women, children [and] families, in these cases in the Kimberley."
“We must do better because right now we are failing our young people.”
Over the past decade, around 700 recommendations on suicide among First Nations people have emerged from numerous inquests, but Ms Oscar said, "what has been missing is the how to. How can we make change?"
“Any process moving forward has to involve and include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people," she said.
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.
For more, catch NITV's #ThePoint at 8.30pm tonight on Channel 34.