OUR FUTURE

SA Parliament passes Australia-first suicide prevention Bill

Law: John Dawkins MLC, President of the Legislative Council, with the Suicide Prevention Bill which has been passed in South Australian Parliament. Picture: Supplied

Law: John Dawkins MLC, President of the Legislative Council, with the Suicide Prevention Bill which has been passed in South Australian Parliament. Picture: Supplied

An Eyre Peninsula suicide prevention group has applauded the South Australian Parliament for becoming the first state or territory to enact formal legislation designed to reduce the incidence of suicide.

The SA Parliament passed the Suicide Prevention Bill this month, following consultation with experts, stakeholders and community groups.

The Bill aims to promote best-practice suicide prevention strategies across the state through a whole-of-government approach. It ensures all government departments and agencies prioritise preventing suicide in the community and builds on the work of the Premier's Council on Suicide Prevention.

Emma Gale, Community Development Officer at Mentally Fit EP and Vice Chairperson for the Empowering Lower Eyre Suicide Prevention Network, said the Bill allowed for a "whole-of-community approach" to suicide prevention.

We'll likely start to see more funding for ways we can target suicide prevention that are more specific to our local areas.

Emma Gale, Community Development Officer at Mentally Fit EP and Vice Chairperson for the Empowering Lower Eyre Suicide Prevention Network

"In the past it's typically been something SA Health has highlighted and led, whereas now with it going through Parliament they've identified it as not just a health problem, but a community problem, and it's something we can tackle with a whole-of-community approach," Ms Gale said.

"This is exciting for small communities like ours in that we'll likely start to see more funding for ways we can target suicide prevention that are more specific to our local areas."

The Bill establishes a Suicide Prevention Council as an ongoing statutory body to oversee and advise on suicide prevention and postvention programs in SA. The Council will be comprised of members with diverse expertise and perspectives, including those with lived experience.

The Council will be responsible for the preparation and implementation of a State Suicide Prevention Plan, which will include provisions to address risk factors for the general community as well as population groups at higher risk of suicide.

New approach: The Suicide Prevention Bill, which is the first of its kind in an Australian jurisdiction, establishes a Suicide Prevention Council as a statutory body and builds on the work of the Premiers Council on Suicide Prevention. Picture: Shutterstock

New approach: The Suicide Prevention Bill, which is the first of its kind in an Australian jurisdiction, establishes a Suicide Prevention Council as a statutory body and builds on the work of the Premiers Council on Suicide Prevention. Picture: Shutterstock

Ms Gale said it would be "fantastic" to see the Council operating and she hoped to see representation from regional communities on the council.

The Bill also establishes a Suicide Register, containing data related to deaths by suicide. The Register will provide information to enable timely support for those impacted by suicide and ensure that policies and programs are targeted to reduce suicide.

Former chair of the Premier's Council on Suicide Prevention, John Dawkins MLC, who has long advocated for the legislation, said he was proud the Bill had finally passed.

"Suicide impacts so many families and communities, and its consequences can be devastating," Mr Dawkins said.

"This Bill will ensure a coordinated and effective approach to suicide prevention, with government agencies, non-government organisations, and community groups all playing a role.

"As the first Bill of its kind in Australia, this legislation sets a precedent for other states to follow in addressing suicide prevention."