The WA Government has committed almost $10 million to funding regional-specific Aboriginal suicide prevention initiatives to be rolled out across the state as part of the WA Recovery Plan.

Embracing the notion of ‘nothing about us without us’, the regional plans will be Aboriginal-led and locally supported to ensure a culturally appropriate response to suicide prevention across the state.

Announced on Thursday, the initiatives will include principles of enabling Aboriginal-led solutions, cultural understanding and respect.

“Through our extensive consultation with communities throughout the State, the need for regional-specific Aboriginal suicide prevention plans to better cater for the cultural considerations and specific priorities in each region was identified,” said WA Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Mental Health, Roger Cook.

The announcement comes after the McGowan Government’s response to the Coroner’s Inquest and Message Stick reports into Aboriginal youth suicide were labelled too little, too late.

In March, WA Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Ben Wyatt, announced $266.7 million in response to the reports, with over $32 million going into the State Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

Many grassroots organisations said the WA Government response ignored the 86 recommendations in the Coroner’s reports, asking instead for better consultation and co-designed projects with communities.

The funding announced on Thursday is in addition to the $32 million announced in March.

Minister Wyatt said the “extensive funding package will provide appropriate supports to those most at risk of suicide—and it will save lives”.

“We have listened, we have heard you, and we are committed to working with communities to provide local solutions.”

Director of the National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project, Mineng Noongar woman Megan Krakouer, said $10 million is “an insult to Western Australia’s 120,000 First Nations people”.

Should the $10 million be allocated across five years as part of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2021-2025, only $2 million per year will be dedicated to Aboriginal suicide prevention. This $2 million then has to be split between WA’s regions.

“It’s less than $300,000 each year for each of [the] seven regions to consult over another five years to design plans,” said Krakouer.

“It will all be spent on inexpert people consulting and there will be nothing for actual life-saving and changing [initiatives].

“It is about time lives are prioritised and as much as needs be spent. We need expertise at the helm.

“This has been going on for 30 years. When will support be real?”

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By Hannah Cross