University of Canberra Chancellor Tom Calma tells The Point we need courageous governments to take bold steps to address Indigenous suicide rates.
Ella Archibald-Binge

The Point
9 Mar 2016 - 10:11 PM  UPDATED 9 Mar 2016 - 10:24 PM

Empowered communities are key to overcoming Indigenous youth suicide, says the former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

Watch: Stan Grant's full interview with Tom Calma:

"There are the solutions that have been offered to governments over many years now," Dr Calma says. 

"(We need) a consistent policy approach, a consistency of funding, and most importantly empowering the community to take control of their own lives.

"Instead of having somebody come in and try to dictate and determine how a person or a community functions, we should be going back to the community."

The comments come in the wake of an apparent suicide of a 10-year-old girl in the Western Australian community of Looma. It's the nineteenth time an Indigenous person in WA has taken their own life this year.

related reading:
Stan Grant: This stops now
COMMENT | Children in our communities are taking their own lives. We need to speak out, or risk losing another generation.
Gerry Georgatos: National inquiry or royal commission into Indigenous suicides is long overdue
COMMENT | The rate of suicides in the Indigenous community - and in particular among children - is a humanitarian crisis. The apparent suicide of a young girl in WA calls for immediate action.

Dr Calma acknowledged there'd been a steady stream of funding towards suicide prevention in recent years, but says the approach has been "very erratic".

"The first thing we need to do is get the governments and all the various departments to work together and see this as a holistic issue," he says.

"Work with the communities to address employment, education, look at addressing substance abuse and violence within those communities."

Watch: WA community rocked by 10-year-old's suicide

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.