Q&A with Professor Pat Dudgeon on the development of the Manual

Posted 24th June 2021 in General Sector update

The Centre for Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prevention (CBPATSISP) recently launched the Manual of Resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention

The Manual brings together practical resources and tools for all people involved in Indigenous suicide prevention, both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous:

  • Individuals, families, Elders and community members
  • Clinicians and frontline workers
  • Primary Health Networks and other funding organisations.

The resources include downloadable checklists, decision-making tools and case studies aimed at preventing suicide and promoting positive mental health and social emotional wellbeing.

The Life in Mind team spoke with Professor Pat Dudgeon, Director of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention at the School of Indigenous Studies at the University of Western Australia, about the role of the Manual.

Question

What led to the development, of the Manual of Resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and what gaps does it aim to fill?

Answer

Before the CBPATSISP was established I worked with UWA and other colleagues on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP). For the first time, ATSISPEP laid out the principles of effective suicide prevention in Indigenous communities, and showed that cultural factors – including community, culture, language and Country – were critically important in keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people strong. ATSISPEP is widely supported and highly influential. But we noticed some people and organisations needed help in translating those principles into actions for their life and work.

“The Manual has been curated to bring together resources that support strong, positive, culturally responsive actions to prevent suicide.”

Question

Who was involved in developing and contributing to the Manual, and how did the community provide input and feedback?

Answer

We had planned a major stakeholder workshop for the middle of last year, but COVID travel restrictions meant we had to cancel. So we convened a series of online workshops instead for the three main audience groups: communities, clinicians and other workforces, and Primary Health Network funding organisations. One positive was that people from remote communities were able to attend, so we probably had greater geographic representation than if the meeting had gone ahead in person. We also commissioned youth-led workshops to explore young people’s resource needs, and we held additional meetings with clinical groups, crisis response organisations, and wherever there were gaps. People gave us extraordinary insights. One surprise was the community’s enthusiasm for video and multimedia resources, which has greatly influenced what we have included.

Question

What were the most important features that needed to be included in the Manual? How can organisations, communities and stakeholders use it?

Answer

People told us they needed help navigating through the plethora of information on the Internet to understand what is genuinely current, safe and culturally responsive. For mainstream organisations, in particular, people said we should not assume much cultural knowledge. So we have focused on resources that offer practical, supportive guidance to community members, workforces and funding agencies. Nearly all the resources we selected were developed by or with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Manual prioritises Indigenous voices, which is crucial to our people’s self-determination and empowerment.

Individuals and organisations can go to the relevant section of the Manual and use the topic navigations to find what they are looking for. We hope they will spend some time exploring the other sections too. We have included icons to indicate the type of resource – written, graphic, video or podcast – and include brief pop-up descriptions that you can review before deciding whether to click the link.

Question

How do you see the Manual supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention? How will you know it’s achieving its aims?

Answer

By making the principles of Indigenous suicide prevention accessible through this compilation of resources and links, we can help embed a sense of what is important. There is evidence that suicides in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more strongly linked to social and emotional factors – conflict or relationship breakdown, homelessness and the experience of racism – than mental health diagnoses. The Manual can help people understand this, and in turn, improve prevention responses.

Question

How can the suicide prevention and sector and other stakeholders support the application of the Manual?

Answer

Towards the end of this year, we will be travelling around Australia to meet with stakeholders, showing them the Manual and exploring how people and organisations are using it in practice. In our preview workshops, we heard that some organisations are keen to use it in training modules or include it in induction materials. We are very keen to hear people’s experiences with the Manual, including suggestions for improvements. It is a living resource, and we are committed to keeping it current, relevant and effective so it can contribute to reducing suicides.

Manual of Resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention