Mental health organisations are calling for the Federal Government to set a suicide reduction target, saying they need action instead of “good intentions”.
The sector said action at a national level was long overdue, but there were concerns the delay might lead to a kneejerk response rather than considered planning.
But some advocates said the rising number of suicide deaths demonstrated the need for intervention.
Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan said the announcement was welcomed by the sector, but emphasised clear targets and performance indicators were necessary.
“Whatever that target ends up being, I think to have a target that can unify people, that can help us to monitor our performance and that allow us to test out progress is the most important thing in the plan,” he said
“People are always concerned about the voluminous talking we do about trying to resolve mental health issues and become very concerned that we can sometimes fail to take all the actions that we so carefully planned.”
Jack Heath, CEO of mental illness advocacy group SANE, agreed long-term goals were essential.
“It’s ok to say good intentions around this, but we really need to try to drive accountability,” he said.
His comments were echoed by Suicide Prevention Australia chief executive Sue Murray, who said clear targets were needed to ensure accountability.
A spokesperson for Health Minister Greg Hunt would not confirm whether a suicide reduction target was on the table for inclusion in the plan.
Previous calls for a target were rejected by the Turnbull Government in 2015, when former politician John Brogden used the 10-year anniversary of his own suicide attempt to call for a national reduction target.
The former New South Wales Liberal leader was hospitalised in August 2005 after being found unconscious in his Sydney electoral office.
This piece by Stephanie Anderson was originally published on ‘ABC News’ March 30, 2017.