THE vital work of the Dr Edward Koch Foundation has been highlighted in Parliament during National Suicide Prevention Week with Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch calling for an urgent increase in government funding.
Since 2007, 40 people on average per year have taken their own lives in Far North Queensland and during Adjournment Debate yesterday, Mr Entsch spoke of two particularly affecting cases.
The first was that of 20-year-old Shelby Fullalove, who killed herself three weeks after being discharged from the Cairns Base Hospital’s mental health ward, prompting calls for a review of mental health services in the region.
The second case was that of 13-year-old Declan Crouch, whose body was found near his Machans Beach home in June after an extensive and very public three-month search.
“From these tragic cases lessons must be learnt, and this is where the Dr Edward Koch Foundation, and in particular its CEO Dulcie Bird, has risen to the challenge,” Mr Entsch told the House.
He highlighted the invaluable services that the Foundation offers throughout North Queensland, from Life workshops giving people basic skills to identify someone who is at risk of suicide, to post-Cyclone Yasi counselling addressing ongoing mental health needs.
The Foundation also hosted the second national Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention Conference in June, established the Declan Crouch Fund to raise money for suicide prevention, and is currently developing a version of its Life workshop for teenagers.
“Dulcie Bird has told me the more she travels around doing this work the more she sees a pressing need for basic suicide awareness and prevention education in our schools,” Mr Entsch said.
“The really incredible and sad thing is that the Foundation does not receive any ongoing Commonwealth funding for its activities but relies on occasional one-off grants, corporate sponsorships, donations and fundraising to raise money to try and continue to provide these services.
“For an organisation that is recognised around this country-and the world-as a leader in suicide prevention, they are struggling to continue to offer their desperately-needed services.
“I call on the government to recognise the Foundation’s value and to provide an appropriate level of funding.”
To view the Hansard transcript of the full speech, click here
To find out more about the great work of the Foundation, click on the logo below.