New funding will build community and national suicide prevention

New funding will build community and national suicide prevention

Wesley Mission’s ground-breaking suicide prevention community networks received vital funds and support from the Federal Government, to address the nation’s most pressing and social issues on a larger scale.

Wesley LifeForce has received $5.64 million for its suicide prevention community networks and $2.14 million for its suicide prevention workshops over the next three years. With this funding Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Networks will expand to 104 and will provide more than 380 suicide prevention training workshops during this time.

This is much needed funding as the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that in the past five years in Australia an average of 2,415 people died by suicide.

Wesley Mission CEO, Rev Dr Keith Garner, highlighted the importance in facilitating a grassroots approach to suicide prevention.

“Local people are best suited to identify local issues and problems and come up with local solutions.

We work in partnership with local communities to help them identify and meet their needs,” said Rev. Dr Garner.

Wesley Suicide Prevention Networks are designed to respond to local issues and complement existing supports and services. Currently there are 72 networks across every state encompassing suburban, rural, regional and remote Australia. These networks represent  585  members who live or work in their local communities.

The networks target high-risk populations in all Australian states and territories, including 12 which are located in Aboriginal communities.

Once a network is established, Wesley LifeForce support gradually transitions to providing maintenance. Networks also have access to evidence-based resources through the Wesley LifeForce Community Hub. This virtual space contains a Skills Bank, links to suicide prevention experts, service finder and interactive forums.

Wesley LifeForce suicide prevention has trained more than 30,140 people throughout Australia since 1995. A survey of participants between 2013 and 2016 indicated that 15 per cent had used the Wesley LifeForce strategies to support people with suicide ideation within three months of training. By June 2019, Wesley LifeForce is aiming to deliver 387 workshops across the nation, 80 per cent of them in at-risk communities with high suicide rates.

“The targeted training workshops in high risk areas will engage community ‘gatekeepers’ such as health, allied health, social workers, community workers, teachers, emergency service workers and Indigenous community leaders,” Dr Garner said.

A further 20 per cent of workshops will be for training delivered in response to episodic community requests or for targeting high risk groups. Wesley LifeForce training fits seamlessly into the framework that is being developed by the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program.

Wesley Mission has extensive experience in suicide prevention including founding Lifeline in 1963. Lifeline is now a national and international movement, providing an immediate response to people in crisis. Operating in Sydney and Sutherland Lifeline, Wesley Mission’s 287 volunteers answer 34,864 calls annually.

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