The Community Broadcasting Suicide Prevention Project
Community Broadcasting Suicide Prevention Project testimonial
This testimonial was written by Margaret El-Chami, the Communications, Media and Information Coordinator of Multicultural Mental Health Australia.
'Multicultural Mental Health Australia is honoured to be part of this exciting initiative.
'The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia's national suicide prevention and mental health awareness project is a very effective means to reach our very diverse community with vital help-seeking and wellbeing messages.
'This is another step towards breaking down the stigma towards mental illness, which is very prominent amongst people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.'
The Community Broadcasting Suicide Prevention Project uses community radio networks around Australia to build a greater understanding of issues surrounding mental health and suicide prevention. It seeks to utilise a network of over 250 community radio stations to provide help-seeking and wellbeing messages to a wide and diverse range of communities. The project is managed by the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia
‘Each month the project team produces 20 different radio segments,’ says project coordinator Ian Watson.
‘They focus on mental health and suicide prevention and stories of people who have overcome difficult times in their life. These are broadcast 24 hours a day through our national satellite network and distributed to all community radio stations along with a monthly magazine.’
Two example segments are available to download: example track 1 (1.44MB) and example track 2 (1.30MB).
The primary aim of the Community Broadcasting Suicide Prevention Project is to provide appropriate information on suicide, mental health and social and emotional wellbeing to a large number of people around Australia. More specific aims include:
- facilitating access by community members to service providers;
- promoting help-seeking behaviour and positive lifestyle choices using voices of grass roots community members and role models;
- facilitating greater networks between service providers and local communities;
- promoting local responses to suicide and other related issues within communities; and
- developing skills of community broadcasters, to help them promote wellbeing and awareness of mental health and suicide prevention issues and services.
The Community Broadcasting Suicide Prevention Project is a national suicide prevention project. It commenced planning stages in July 2008 and the first broadcast aired in October 2008.
‘The project originated through similar projects I have been involved in through community radio networks and indigenous radio networks,’ says Watson.
‘It was felt in discussion with a range of key mental health and suicide prevention services around Australia that there was an opportunity to use this kind of network and this kind of project to build awareness amongst some of those hard to reach audiences around Australia, such as indigenous communities, outback communities and rural and remote communities.’
Watson estimates that the project has a regular monthly audience of over 7 million people.
About the project coordinator
Ian Watson has worked in the community broadcasting sector since the late 1990s. He began his career as a journalist before moving to communication project development, where much of his work has been in providing health information to indigenous, multicultural and rural communities. In 2000, one of the projects Watson worked on for the Brisbane Indigenous Media Association was nominated as a finalist in the UN Media Peace Awards, while another won a Queensland Media Award for best portrayal of multicultural issues.
The Community Broadcasting Suicide Prevention Project is based partly on the Staying Strong Radio Project, which ran on indigenous radio services for two years, as well as health promotion programs such as the Healthy Communities Project.
‘We have looked at it both from a suicide prevention point-of-view and a communications point-of-view,’ says Watson, ‘and we have got good evidence that this kind of model is successful at raising awareness, as well as linking people with services and promoting help seeking behaviour.
‘We are confident that these messages get out there widely and result in some behavioural and attitudinal changes.’
The project faces a number of ongoing challenges, including:
- maintaining promotion and spreading awareness;
- ensuring the involvement of service providers and community radio stations; and
- ensuring content is accurate, relevant and interesting.
‘We have stations out there with a really wide variety of formats - everything from classical music stations to really relaxing style youth stations,’ says Watson.
‘One of the challenges for us is making sure we produce content that is going to fit in with what they feel comfortable broadcasting at a local level.’
The Community Broadcasting Suicide Prevention Project also aims for stations to use its content actively, and this poses an ongoing challenge.
Explains Watson: ‘One of the things we want them (stations) to do is not just put content to air but to discuss it at a local level and in an appropriate way. As we move forward we will try and get stations to actually embrace this project and build on it, rather than just receive material and put it to air.’
Multicultural Mental Health Australia
Email project coordinator Ian Watson.