Question: There’s a fair bit of fatigue in the Kimberley about repeated reports and discussions around this issue. What makes you think that this will result in anything actually changing?
Sussan Ley: All of those reports have led to this day. We are not reworking any oldground. All of the reports and all of the wisdom, the research, and the voices, have led us to this point where we are implementing things that will happen that will change lives. And there was a lot of hope and a lot of optimism and a lot of honesty and a lot of truth, and together there’s determination to make a difference.
Question: What role do you think traditional owners and Indigenous people should play in this?
Sussan Ley: A vital role. And one of the reasons why I brought the Primary Health Network, which commissions some Federal Government funding in this area, together to be at the table was to hear the voices of local Indigenous groups, the local owners- you know, for whom all of these things matter the most, who have suffered the most, who have lost the most. So absolutely that is vital. We are not doing anything here to this community, we are going to do every single thing with this community.
Question: We’ve got a fair bit of feedback from local organisations: disappointment, feeling it was very rushed and a bit last minute- even the WA Mental Health Minister Andrea Mitchell said she would have liked to attend, it was too late notice. What’s your response to that?
Sussan Ley: This is an urgent priority. In Mental Health Week the Prime Minister and I, and Nigel Scullion and Ken Wyatt, wanted to hit the ground running on an important issue like this. Remember, there are more meetings, there are- there is more input, there is more consultation. But we have started what is a very important process and there was urgency in getting that up and running. We’re heading to Fitzroy, we had a great delegation from Derby, we are going to make this a priority across the whole Kimberley, and to have the three of us, as Ministers, here, straight from a Parliamentary Sitting in Canberra, and then to commit to that ongoing listeningand consultation, I think underscores that this is the- of the highest priority for Government.
Question: The Federal Government’s been in power for several years, I think the Prime Minister requested this meeting be organised back in February, what’s the sort of- why is it suddenly a priority issue?
Sussan Ley: That’s not correct. The announcement about the Suicide Prevention trial was actually made during the campaign. So we’re implementing a campaign promise. Thank you, and if you’d like to ask colleagues anything …
Question: Minister Scullion, how do you think the meeting went this morning?
Nigel Scullion: Oh, it’s been fantastic, and it’s been fantastic because a robust exchange of views, in terms of what’s working and what isn’t, is actually what’s
needed. And you asked the question about, you know, we’re now into almost the second term where- we’ve said, the first term, we wanted to take advice on what works and what doesn’t work. So we’ve commissioned a report, ATSISPEP Report through the University of Western Australia, we launched that report today and that report is a guidance note.
That is the framework of the way forward. But it only deals, in ways, with some of the conventional processes. We’ve heard today about the importance of helpful authority. We’ve heard today, as the Minister’s just indicated, the importance of key people within the community, who play a traditional role within the community, how we’re providing unconventional support to unconventional processes. I think also there are some significant issues that are outside the reach of Government, and so how do we support the communities deal with a number of those issue that effect particularly young people and how they’re feeling. So this was a wide-ranging discussion that I think, as good discussions often do, brought up more questions than answers, and it’s about ensuring that we put resources together and people together to try to find out what those answers are, and that’s going to happen in the short term.
Question: And have you read the evaluation report, and what were your sort of main takeaways from it?
Nigel Scullion: Well, I’ve been associated with the evaluation report since the start, I commissioned it. But it’s a report that I think is from an Australian community perspective, an excellent insight into the particular levers that work and those thing that, I guess, don’t work. And one of the things that doesn’t work is having mainstream flying in without that cultural competency and without that- the experience and the network in dealing with Indigenous communities. And what does work is individuals. It’s all about people in organisations who have the network.
They are form the community, the have language, they have cultural competence. So they’re the sort of people that we need to ensure that we’re engaging. So whilst we suspected that to be the case across the board, certainly that’s been reinforced and it’s issues like that that we need to ensure that when we’re responding in this [indistinct], and those are the sort of things that we need to do. And can I say that there’s been a couple of calls for things like CDP to be returned and that’s- I have to say, that’s great news, that the level of support for those sort of programs that we are returning to is being called for.
There’s been a discussion about, you know, what- is this consultation. This isn’t consultation. This is the start of doing something completely different. Consultation is when we come and we ask someone how it’s going, what they want to do, then we go away and do it. We’re coming and saying we’re doing this together. So this is an ongoing process under which we will be working with the community, not only in talking about how we deliver it, but on- but ensuring that the community are actually delivering these programs.
Question: So what’s going to happen next? Where to from here?
Nigel Scullion: Well, I’m returning to the meeting after lunch and the meeting here is going on. But then it’s about trying to identify how we might better understand, particularly the issues affecting young people in the community and their particular disempowerment. So when you reach quite a brittle circumstance, it might be only something little. But it’s about understanding better about those social determinants of housing, opportunities for education, opportunities for employment, that are around the brittleness of an individual that make them more vulnerable than they would otherwise have been. So we’ll be talking about all of those matters and how they might feel into the trial, and we’ll be talking about the providers at the time and how they feel about their position in the trial, and how we communicate all the time about what we’re doing and we’re sharing all of that information with each other.
Question: And just finally, there was a minute’s silence at the start of the meeting. How did you find the mood to be? What was the feedback you were getting from people?
Nigel Scullion: Oh look, everybody here understands the importance of this matter. Many people in the room have been personally affected. All of the people in the room have an understanding of the breadth of this issue. This was not an issue in Indigenous communities 30 years ago. It is a recent evolution. [Inaudible] as I said,get to the bottom of particularly young people. Everything from the impact of Facebook and social media, and bullying on social media to the- to a whole suite of other issues in the community. So again, this is an ongoing process. So I’m going to the second half of this meeting, but there’s no beginning and end of this. This is an ongoing engagement, both in the design- this is co-designed with the community, andit will be co-delivered with community.
Question: Can I just ask one last question? Minister, you said there was an urgency around coming up here, but obviously suicide has been happening in the Kimberley for a long time. What was the urgency? Why was it different to other times?
Sussan Ley: The suicide prevention trial that we announced during the campaign belongs effectively with the project report that was put on the table today. So we wanted this work to start, but rather than duplicate its valuable contribution and ingredients, it was ready to be put out there in the public arena. And coinciding with that, we are here to start this process, because if we waited any longer, it would take too long.
Question: So this wasn’t planned prior? This wasn’t part of the campaign, coming up here? That could have been planned earlier?
Sussan Ley: Actually, we know that the report was about to be released. When thePrime Minister and I sat down with Pat Dudgeon a few weeks ago, she said look, thisis the report. We know. This is- this contains the blueprints. It’s almost ready to be released. So we agreed, as soon as it gets released, we will start our suicide prevention trial work so that we don’t waste any time and we don’t waste any effort. So we now are focused on exactly what we need to do.