THE Coalition Government has started rolling out Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid training to frontline workers in the Coalition Government’s Remote School Attendance Strategy and Community Development Programme.
The first training workshops to be held in Queensland got underway last week on Palm Island. Over time, the training will be rolled out to more than 1,500 frontline workers in more than 60 remote locations across Australia. This includes workshops in the Leichhardt communities of Kowanyama, Lockhart, Injinoo, Bamaga and Pormpuraaw.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion, said the rollout of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid training was part of a suite of decisive actions the Government had taken to address the mental health issues that exist within many Indigenous communities.
“The workshops will focus on training frontline workers about how to recognise early signs of mental health issues, provide support and encourage professional help,” Minister Scullion said.
Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch, a long-time advocate for improved mental health services, said he was pleased the Coalition Government is delivering on its commitment to work with Indigenous communities, to develop local solutions and support frontline staff.
“There is an urgent need for frontline staff who are working in remote communities in Queensland to receive this training ? given the very high rates of suicide in Indigenous communities.” Mr Entsch said.
“These frontline staff are in contact with people in their community on a daily basis and the training will help them to identify the early warning signs of mental health issues and give them knowledge about the most appropriate response for vulnerable families and children.
“Importantly, we are working closely with communities to ensure the training meets local needs and priorities.”
First Australians are more than twice as likely to be hospitalised for mental health-related conditions as non-Indigenous Australians. In addition, suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are twice as high.
Recent suicide initiatives supported by the Coalition Government include the Critical Response Project to address suicide-related trauma in Western Australia and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project.