Key suicide prevention advocate welcomes the Prime Ministers appointment of Greg Hunt as Health Minister
May 26, 2019
Image: Matthew Tukaki, Former Chair of Suicide Prevention Australia
The former Chair of Suicide Prevention Australia and of the National Coalition for Suicide Prevention, Matthew Tukaki, has welcomed the re-appointment of Federal Health Minister. Greg Hunt, back into the role after the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced his new Cabinet Sunday saying that sector continuity was “important as we move to reduce the suicide rate in Australia.
“For the last several years now I have had the fortune of working with Greg on how we take a more considered look at reform, changing systems and therefore changing lives. Since the landmark Senate report nearly a decade ago we have, as a country, gone about trying to reduce the suicide rate across the population base. Greg’s re-appointment as Federal Health Minister means sector continuity in terms of the plans moving forward. Greg gets what needs to be done.” Tukaki said.
Tukaki also noted that the focus also needed to be on moved from just about systems to other sectors of the population base who are doing it tough such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders:
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the highest per head of population rate of suicide in Australia are coming a close to second to Maori in New Zealand. Over many years we have tried to arrest the rate but the reality is we have missed the mark. In fact what we need to do is invest more money and effort into building up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service providers to be able to respond to the challenges they see every day in their own communities” Tukaki said.
“That notion of empowerment versus dis-empowerment will be a hard pill to swallow for some existing service providers but the reality many people have been doing has not worked – and its well past time we recognise that Aboriginal people have the human right to address this very big challenge. Earlier this year the Federal Government and Greg made a range of investments that I am sure will be a great starting point to address the challenges in those communities.” Tukaki said
Tukaki also said we needed to be cautious when it comes to emerging trends such as woman in their latter years and the impact of the ongoing droughts across New South Wales and Queensland:
“We know that women in their latter years are struggling with everything from financial insecurity to relationship breakdowns and we need to focus some time and attention on arresting the challenge before it becomes big. What we also need is a long term sustainable plan to support our farmers and the many small business owners in regional communities who are increasingly challenged by the eb and flow of the peak and troughs of droughts.” Tukaki said
Tukaki, who retired from his role as Chairman of Suicide Prevention Australia, remains on the Board of the organisation and is tipped to play a key role in suicide prevention in the coming term of Government.
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