In our 31st edition of LIFE News, we find out more about Professionals, a resources website for professional supporting youth mental health and wellbeing. We also profile Community Connections, take a look at The National Suicide Prevention Conference and report on all the latest news and events.

News from the Department

Evaluation of suicide prevention activities

As you might be aware, Australian Healthcare Associates (AHA) conducted a comprehensive programme evaluation of existing activity funded under the National Suicide Prevention Programme (NSPP) and select activities funded under the Taking Action to Tackle Suicide (TATS) package from 2006-07 to 2012-13.

The Evaluation of suicide prevention activities report is now available online via the Department of Health website.

Intentional self-harm and suicidal behaviour in children

The National Children’s Commissioner is examining how children and young people under 18 years can be better protected from intentional self-harm and suicidal behaviour.

Submissions are sought from interested individuals, government, private, and non-government organisations on the key issues. See here for more information.

Top Professionals

Content, tools and technology for professionals supporting youth mental health and wellbeing.

E-mental health services help by increasing the options immediately available to people in distress, and reducing demand for face-to-face services - intervening early and supporting recovery. Professionals is a resources website for practitioners working with young people at risk of developing mental health difficulties. It targets school, health and social services staff in particular, but has content to assist anyone working in a support role with young people. 

The program provides: 

  • guides on using new mental health apps and e-mental health services, 
  • classroom resources for teaching wellbeing skills, and 
  • professional development for integrating evidence based e-mental health services into work with young people. Professionals is a sister service to the leading Australian youth mental health website, and includes resources to help practitioners use to help young people.

Origins Professionals has existed since 2008, funded under the National Suicide Prevention Program. It was established to help health and social services staff begin to understand the emerging e-mental health landscape – and now serves over 6,000 professional visitors every month. Jack Heath founded the original youth mental health service in 1998, seeing an opportunity to use the Internet to reach young people at risk of suicide due to untreated mental health difficulties. The service now reaches over a million young people every year – helping them to begin helping themselves.

Our recent impact

In July 2013, Professions was relaunched with a new website. This renewal was pivotal in expanding our reach from approximately 1,000 visitors per month to 6,000 per month over the course of just half a year. Since the launch, a range of new resources have been developed to help professionals help young people – including new guides to using mood journaling and life-tracking apps, and new classroom resources on building resilience and teaching a growth mindset. 

Our users report that we help them feel confident and capable of using technology in their work, and in helping young people access mental health support that suits their needs.

“The information is accurate and relevant and invaluable in assisting staff to offer services that meet the needs of young people.”

“I like to use ReachOut Pro as a reference point for Youth Mental Health Workers and School Welfare Staff to explore how they might use technology in their therapeutic work with young people. It is a great introduction to both content and issues relating to this style of service delivery.”

– Feedback from Professionals evaluation surveys

Using e-mental health services – online learning package Professionals has just launched a new self-paced online learning package. It trains youth workers, social workers and other ‘gatekeeper’ professionals to use e-mental health services in day-to-day work – drawing on 2 decades of research into online mental health services. 

Find out

The learning package has been developed with support from the Australian Association of Social Workers, Western Australian Youth Workers Association and the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre. The learning package is also eligible for CPD points from the AASW and the Australian Community Workers Association. 

Stay connected with Professionals

Fundamental to keeping our program relevant and useful is the direct involvement of practitioners and young people in developing new resources and reviewing new e-mental health tools for young people. Stay connected with opportunities to contribute or use our resources.
Website: (consider subscribing to the monthly digest of new tools for your work).

Hosie, A., Vogl, G., Hoddinott, J., Carden, J. & Comeau, Y. (2014). Crossroads: Rethinking the Australian mental health system. Sydney: by Inspire Foundation.


CALD Community Connections

Community Connections aims to support Tasmania’s newer community members to build capacity in their responses to suicide and to assist service providers to work more effectively with people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.  The project achieves this through a range of community awareness activities, tailored training opportunities for community members and service providers, workshops and resource development. Through these organised events and activities, we aim to raise awareness of suicidal ideation, idioms of distress and how community members can help one another and be confident to refer to appropriate services.

Community Connections is a project of the Phoenix Centre, which provides support for people who have fled war-related trauma to find safety in Australia.  The Phoenix Centre is a complementary service within the Migrant Resource Centre (Southern Tasmania) and is a member of the Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT). 

 A key initiative of the Project has been to engage Community Consultants as short-term members of the Project team with the aim of developing culturally appropriate suicide awareness training. Community consultants from the Bhutanese, South Sudanese, Chinese, Congolese, Hazara and Burmese Chin communities received a range of suicide prevention training. Using a participatory action research approach, the consultants interviewed community members about their perceptions of suicide, warning signs, risk and protective factors, help-seeking and recommendations for service providers. The findings informed the development of a suicide awareness training session, delivered by the consultant, providing skills and knowledge relevant and accessible to community members. 

The Project is producing a DVD which tells the stories of five people from Sri Lanka, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan and Australia, four of whom have experienced suicidal ideation and a fifth, who supported someone at risk of suicide. The film focuses on how these people managed their suicidal thoughts, their help seeking behaviours, and what they do to remain mentally healthy and engage with life. The DVD will be a useful resource for service providers and community members to develop a greater awareness of the impact of culture on suicidal ideation and recovery pathways.

Community Connections is providing stigma reduction workshops to YMEP (Youth Migrant English Program) students. The workshops will be conducted in collaboration with Working it Out to include an LGBTIQ perspective and will include SafeTALK training facilitated by LifeLine.
The workshops explore the stigma that surrounds suicide, mental illness and the CALD/LGBTIQ community and reduce its negative impact.  Mental Health information which is meaningful to people from CALD backgrounds is important as they are less likely than those born in Australia to access mainstream mental health services.

Collaboration with other services is an important feature of the Project’s work and R U OK? Day is a key example of this. On September 12 last year, the Project hosted 200 people from migrant and refugee backgrounds in Hobart for activities and ‘conversations that could change a life’.

Along with other members of the Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Community Network, we are planning for a larger, state-wide, whole of community RU OK? Day event(s) this year. 

Whilst the project has had many successes, there have been challenges along the way.  An on-going challenge is the engagement of mainstream service providers, including some Suicide Prevention organisations, to provide culturally appropriate strategies in their training packages.

A persistent and widespread stigma around suicide, mental health issues and LGBTIQ issues within many of our newer communities creates barriers to education and acceptance of proven help seeking behaviours.

However, the Project has achieved many positive outcomes including:

  • Supporting the Bhutanese Community of Tasmania to build skills and knowledge in suicide prevention, leading to the community being awarded a Tasmanian Life award.
  • Encouraging awareness in suicide prevention organisations about the need to make their training culturally relevant.
  • Highlighting the ongoing need for service providers and suicide prevention organisations to use interpreters effectively and to provide translated materials
  • Raising awareness of the needs of CALD communities in relation to suicide at a national level through presentations at national conferences. 

As the LIFE framework states: 
‘Culture shapes people’s view of suicide; different cultures understand suicide and suicidal thinking in different ways’; ‘People from different cultures interpret suicidal experiences through a range of cultural, spiritual and religious understandings’.


Spotlight on: The National Suicide Prevention Conference

Pan Pacific Perth, Western Australia, 23-26 July 2014


The National Suicide Prevention Conference provides a platform for the exchange of ideas and will focus on evidence-based suicide prevention initiatives, showcasing the best in research, practice and community engagement for key audiences across Australia.

This year’s theme, Many Communities, One Goal, will focus on delivering improved outcomes in suicide prevention for those working with vulnerable populations. 

Throughout the conference presenters and delegates will explore question such as:

  • What happens when an individual or community are socially excluded, marginalised and what does that mean for the community, researcher, clinician?
  • What are the differences between vulnerable communities and what do they have in common so programs can be adapted for other groups?
  • How do individuals and communities create resilience and how can programs enhance the development of resilience? 


Tim Fisher at The National Suicide Prevention Conference 2013 

Pre-Conference Workshop, Tuesday 22 July

Communities Matter: Empowering community-driven suicide prevention: For conference delegates and those currently working or volunteering in a community network who wish to establish suicide prevention initiatives and actions at the local level. 

Special Session, Saturday 26 July

Harnessing the voice of lived experience: For individuals who have been touched by suicide to share their experiences with conference delegates. Contributions could help shape important activities aimed at halving suicides in Australia over the next decade.

More information and reservations 


In the media

Indigenous health and wellbeing has been in the spotlight recently, with Melissa Stoneham’s piece in The Conversation covering her research into media reporting of Indigenous health issues. The Age also reported on the recently released ‘The Elders’ Report into Indigenous Self-Harm and Youth Suicide,’ which called for suicide prevention funding to be directed to Indigenous elders. 

There was also a significant amount of general media about suicide prevention following the recently released ABS Cause of Death statistics.  Jeff Kennett wrote about the urgent need to do more, and Jenna Price spoke to Graham Martin for her comment piece in the Canberra Times which looked at the need for a different approach to suicide prevention in Australia. 


Upcoming events and training

4th Australian Postvention Conference

June 5-7 2014, UNSW, Sydney

We are privileged to have international guests and Australian presenters who are experts in the field of postvention. The invited plenary speakers are well known for their research and practice in postvention. Pre-conference workshops will be held on Thursday 5th June. Friday's program is aimed at researchers and professionals and includes an almost-full-day workshop for support group facilitators as a separate stream. Saturday's program is primarily for those bereaved by suicide and their families with a separate workshop stream. There will be two sessions on Friday when concurrent papers will be presented. 

6th Asia Regional Pacific Conference of IASP

June 10-13, Tahiti, French Polynesia

The goal of this regional conference is to draw together IASP members and those working in the field of suicide prevention in the Asia Pacific Region.

We intend to:

  • Collect information on national and regional networks;
  • Ascertain the training and educational needs of the area;
  • Share knowledge on suicide prevention strategies in different countries around the region;
  • Test the potential model for implementing more specific training events in the region.

The conference will focus on both the scientific foundations of our understanding of suicide and attempted suicide and on clinical aspects of treatment, prevention and managing the aftermath of suicidal behaviour. There will be a strong emphasis on linking scientific understanding with clinical strategy.

Courageous Voices: Seeds of Hope and Transformation

LGBTI Mental Health Conference 2014
June 26-27, Sydney

The National LGBTI Health Alliance invites you to participate in the MindOUT! LGBTI Mental Health Conference.  The conference, the first of its kind in Australia, will examine the individual and social determinants that impact of the mental health outcomes of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.  Research and programmes that have been undertaken in Australia to address mental health and suicide in LGBTI communities will also be showcased.

Building on the MindOUT! Symposium in October 2012 and the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Stream at the Health in Difference in Conference in April 2013, the conference marks the conclusion of this phase of the MindOUT! LGBTI Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Project.


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