Indigenous Suicide Prevention Forum Themes

Community and Lived Experience: Workshop A  

  • Discover ways that lived experience can be utilised to empower individuals experiencing suicidal ideation
  • Learn how to best involve community in your Indigenous suicide prevention efforts
Workshop Facilitator: Jonathan Link
Trainer & Facilitator
Rural and Remote Mental Health
Jonathan Link is a proud Aboriginal man with geographic connections to the Pilbara, Stradbroke and Mossman Gorge Regions. His extensive work history has contributed to making a change in Aboriginal &Torres Strait Islander “Mental Health”.
Working in the field of Indigenous mental health and social and emotional wellbeing has taken him across Australia
and to Papua New Guinea. A secondment to the Australasian Centre for Rural & Remote Mental Health in 2011 enabled a collaboration that led to the design and formulation of a successful Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing program. The program has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on Indigenous wellbeing.
Jonathan is a Principal Master Instructor of the Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid program and has facilitated over 75 workshops across Australia. In 2017, he was involved with the Project Reference Group NHMRC (Indigenous Suicide Prevention) as an expert panellist. More recently he was among 30 other Aboriginal &Torres Strait Islander expert panellists who contributed
to the new guidelines to improve assessments for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people presenting to hospital with self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
Jonathan also sits on the Gold Coast PHN Clinical Council Committee as the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander health worker representative and feels more could be done within the three tiers of Government regarding suicide prevention.


Jonathan Link

Workshop Facilitator

Rural and Remote Mental Health

Indigenous Youth: Workshop B

  • Understand the challenges facing Indigenous youth today
  • Develop strategies to help Indigenous youth build resilience, access support, and improve wellbeing
Work Facilitator: Indi Clark 
Executive Officer 
Koorie Youth Council 
Indi Clarke has ties to Muthi Muthi on his father’s side and the Boonwurrung on his mother’s. 
A Lardil man, Indi is and has always been passionate about his culture and believes that awareness of, and education surrounding culture is vital. For him, both education and communication are the key to strong communities. 
Indi is an Executive Member of the Koorie Youth Council and has played a central role in the Koorie Youth Summit. The Koorie Youth Council (KYC) is a body of young people who work to ensure the voice of Aboriginal people in Victoria are heard. KYC has led extensive work in consulting with young people across the state around issues that relevant for young people and produced a range of supports. 


Indi Clarke

Executive Officer

Koorie Youth Council

National Suicide Prevention Taskforce - Workshop C 

  • Morning Session: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network 
Workshop Facilitator: Leilani Darwin
Head of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network,  
Black Dog Institute
  • Afternoon Session: Join the Prime Minister’s National Suicide Prevention Taskforce to workshop ways you can help Indigenous communities achieve holistic wellbeing and contribute to priorities and action
Workshop Facilitator: Jaelea Skehan
Special Adviser 
National Suicide Prevention Taskforce
Jaelea Skehan works nationally in the prevention of mental illness and the prevention of suicide. She is passionate about translating evidence into practice and building the capacity of individuals, families, organisations and communities to be involved in mental health and suicide prevention.
Jaelea is an advocate for finding better connections between research and practice and for ensuring a national focus on the prevention of mental ill-health and suicide and strives to always lead by example and be committed to change on a local and national level.
She has worked at Everymind since 2001 and became the Director in 2012. In addition Jaelea is a registered psychologist and holds a conjoint appointment with the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle. She is currently on extended leave from Everymind until December 2020 to lead the national suicide prevention taskforce supporting the first suicide prevention adviser to the Prime Minister.
In 2014 Jaelea was announced as one of Australia's 100 Women of Influence, a national honour sponsored by the Australian Financial Review and Westpac highlighting the important contribution women make in creating bold and diverse future for Australia.


Leilani Darwin

Head of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre

Black Dog Institute

Jaelea Skehan

Taskforce Lead

National Suicide Prevention Taskforce


  • What type of collaboration can we see more of in the Indigenous suicide prevention space?
  • What type of support does the sector require?


Dr. Mark Wenitong

Deputy Chair


  • How is the Australian Government working with community, elders, and other key stakeholders to achieve national change that increases Indigenous wellbeing and reduces suicide 
  • Overview of programs, resources, and planned priorities that address Indigenous suicide prevention 


Hon.Gavin Jennings MLC

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

Victoria State Government


  • Using culture as the basis of connection with Indigenous communities facing serious challenges
  • Measuring the impact of cultural outreach programs on Indigenous lives  


Belinda Duarte


Culture is Life

 Stream One Stream Two
11:00 The Yarns Heal Suicide Prevention Campaign, part of the Brisbane North Suicide Prevention Trial Site
  • Sharing the learning's of development and implementation of Australia's first merged, community co-designed  Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander and LGBTIQ+ SB Suicide Prevention Campaign
Rebecca Johnson, Co-founder, IndigiLez Women, & Phillip Sariago, 2Spirits Capacity Building Officer, QLD Council for LGBTI Health 
11:00 Using lived experience stories to emphasise the importance of culture in Indigenous wellbeing
  • Learning from trauma to mitigate the impact of suicidal ideation
  • Teaching Indigenous youth techniques to cope with mental health distress 
Joe Williams, Former Professional Athlete and Mental Health Advocate, The Enemy Within
11:40 Celebrating the cultural expression of Indigenous youth to prevent suicide
  • Understanding the unique challenges facing young Indigenous Australians
  • Embracing traditional and youth culture in devising tailored responses to prevent suffering among Indigenous youth
Indi Clark, Executive Officer, Koorie Youth Council and Jedda Patten, Representative, National Indigenous Youth Parliament
11:40 Adopting a holistic approach to Indigenous wellbeing through a cultural healing paradigm  
  • Connecting community to culture to improve wellbeing
Aunty Cheri Yingaa Yavu-Kama-Harathunian, Director/Chaplain, Indigenous Wellbeing Centre


  • Recognising that suicide is not just a mental health issue
  • Developing a plan to holistically improve Indigenous wellbeing across all levels of society


Pat Dudgeon

Professor of Indigenous Studies & Project Director

CBPATSISP & University Of Western Australia

  • Enabling men to be leaders in their own health and wellbeing 
  • Changing the suicide prevention narrative to include stories from around the campfire
  • Lomas Amini, National Camping on Country Coordinator, Camping on Country 


Lomas Amini

National Camping on Country Coordinator

Camping on Country

 Stream One Stream Two
2:20 Understanding the intergenerational link between colonial history, abuse, and suicide  
  • How is psychosocial suffering handed down across generations, and why is history not history?  
  • Confronting the colonial legacy of sexual assault and how this leads to suicide  
Professor Judy Atkinson, Emeritus Professor, South Cross University
2:20 The role of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in providing holistic support and care through a healing paradigm
  • Understanding the importance and impact of holistic care and support through local led responses and collaboration 
  • Establishing the importance of role models and leaders in promoting positive habits and wellbeing  
Elaine Laraia, Co-ordinator, Midwest Social Support Project, Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service
  • Understanding the baseline data 
  • Reducing suicidality 
  • Case Studies 


Gerry Georgatos

National Coordinator

National Suicide Prevention & Trauma Recovery Project

  • Developing a more humane system for dealing with Indigenous peoples who rely on welfare to prevent mental distress   


Cheryl Axleby


Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement

  • Update and overview of the newly established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network 
  • Building and creating opportunities for Indigenous lived experience inclusion at all levels  
Joe Williams, Network Co-Chair, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Network, Black Dog Institute


  • Who should government be working with to address Indigenous wellbeing? 
  • What can government do to help fix the problem of Indigenous suicide? 
  • How can levels of government cooperate to ensure that change is effective? 


Blair Exell

Group Manager, Education, Community Safety and Health Division

National Indigenous Australians Agency

  • Working with communities and across sectors to promote and support Indigenous mental health and wellbeing
  • Ensuring that change is meaningful and effective in preventing Indigenous suicides


Christine Morgan


National Mental Health Commission & National Suicide Prevention Adviser to the Prime Minister

  • Overview and summary from State and Territory Governments about their efforts and prioritisation of Indigenous suicide prevention and postvention 
  • Combining state resources and collaborating efforts to have the greatest impact in combatting Indigenous suicide
 Stream One Stream Two
10:40 An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community designed, systems-based approach to Suicide Prevention   
  • Realising the importance of a community led response localised to community needs  
Kim Mulholland, Cultural Advisor, NISPT, and Le Smith, Executive Manager Health Programs, Northern Territory PHN
10:40 The role that postvention plays in contributing to the reduction of suicides
  • Understanding the impact and importance of postvention as part of prevention and its effect 
  • Insights into the work of the National Indigenous Critical Response Service 
Rachael Schmerl, Community Capacity Building Coordinator, & Angela Threlfall, Acting Northern Coordinator, National Indigenous Critical Response Service, Thirrili
11:20 Interface between mainstream services and support and how the needs of Indigenous people and communities are being met
  • Incorporating culture and Indigenous worldviews in the way mainstream services and support responds to the Indigenous crisis
Chez Curnow, Manager - Mental Health and AOD, Country SA PHN
11:20 Building strong minds 
  • Equipping remote frontline workers to address and understand mental health issues within their communities 
  • Better understanding the challenges of mental health across our communities 
Matt Clarke, Deputy CEO, National Employment Services Association (NESA)
12:00 Evaluating the impact of The Kimberley Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Trial
  • What lessons have we learnt from the Trial Site Program?
  • What should future Indigenous suicide prevention efforts look like
Kristen Orazi, Executive Manager Mental Health, & Rowena Cox, Community Liaison Officer, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service
12:00 Dedicating efforts to help reduce suicide among Indigenous women
  • Understanding why young Indigenous women are increasingly taking their lives
  • Responding to the mental health consequences of family violence that sees Indigenous women hospitalised at 32 times the rate of non-indigenous women 
Dr Gracelyn Smallwood AO, Professor of Nursing-midwifery/Community Engagement, CQ University


  • Understanding the importance and impact of measurements on the design and delivery of programs and interventions 
  • Transforming evidence into action to develop highly tailored and culturally informed suicide prevention programs


Tanja Hirvonen

Director of Strategic Policy & Research

Indigenous Allied Health Australia

 Stream One Stream Two 
1:50 Supporting individuals, families and communities through the coronial process 
  • Understanding the role of the newly created Koori Family Engagement Coordinator
  • Identifying needs and supports for families after a suicide 
Troy Williamson, Koori Family Engagement Coordinator, Coroners Support Service, Victorian Coroners Court  
1:50 Tailoring mental health services based on empirical and community-based research
  • Moving away from a universal understanding of mental health towards an approach that involves community and culture  
  • Presenting a model that would be more effective in reducing Indigenous suicide
Dr. Peter Malouf, Associate Professor (Indigenous Health), University of Sydney 
 Stream One Stream Two
2:45 Understanding and expanding the evidence base to improve suicide prevention measures  
  • Collecting evidence in a way that upholds data sovereignty so that Indigenous communities can better control and harness wellbeing findings  
  • Identifying the gaps in prevention knowledge to establish a research plan  
Dr. Vanessa Lee, Senior Researcher, University of Sydney 
2:45 Indigenous mental health leadership & its role in suicide prevention 
  • Updates on new initiatives in Indigenous mental health leadership 
  • Summary of outcomes from NATSIMHL national consultants 
Tom Brideson, State-wide Coordination Unit, NSW Aboriginal Mental Health Workforce Program


  • Funding pilots across Canada from 2015-2018 to support the mental health of Indigenous boys and men
  • Organizing support into land-based programs, prison-based programs and men’s social inclusion programs
  • Scaling these streams across Canada this year, and Australia and New Zealand in the future 


Sonia Prevost Derbecker


Indigenous Men, Mental Health & Suicide Prevention, Movember (Canada)

  • Identifying ways that the general public and various industry can contribute to suicide prevention


Susan Anderson

Deputy CEO

Beyond Blue

Ray Jackson

Project Manager - The Way Back

Beyond Blue

  • Utilising the power of traditional dance to empower men and the community at large to talk about depression, anxiety, and suicide
  • Reinforcing pride and respect of culture through the sharing of Maori haka


Leon Ruri


Haka For Life