The Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative (the Collaborative) was established in 2015 to tackle the region’s high rates of suicide.
‘The Collaborative’ is simply a term we use to describe the organisations and individuals who have come together to reduce suicide deaths and attempts in the Illawarra Shoalhaven region. It consists of representatives from more than 40 significant organisations across health, education, community, local media, police, ambulance, employment agencies, Aboriginal organisations, local councils, and transport, as well as lived experience advocates.
What the Collaborative has achieved so far
Since its launch five years ago, the Collaborative has implemented a wide range of innovative and locally produced programs and services across the Illawarra Shoalhaven region.
In the early stages, the Collaborative was a trial site for the LifeSpan framework: an evidence-based, integrated approach to suicide prevention developed by the Black Dog Institute. As a LifeSpan trial site, the aim was to build a safety net for the Illawarra Shoalhaven community by connecting and coordinating new and existing programs in the region; and ensuring people with lived experience of suicide were involved in decision-making every step of the way.
The integration of LifeSpan into the Collaborative’s ethos has resulted in one of the most comprehensive regional suicide prevention efforts ever undertaken in Australia. The Collaborative has successfully developed and delivered a range of suicide prevention initiatives to connect people with the right support.
As a part of our integrated approach, the Collaborative has developed a ‘Where to go for support’ resource that highlights local support services. More than 23,000 of these support cards have now been distributed by local organisations and community groups.
The Collaborative has also worked closely to facilitate and promote Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) suicide prevention training in the region. In 2017, the Collaborative partnered with the Illawarra Mercury newspaper to run #care2qpr, an award-winning media campaign that resulted in almost 3,000 people signing up for the training.
Free licenses are still available for members of the community to complete QPR training! Find out more and claim your free license here.
One of the most important aspects of the Collaborative’s work has been contributing to the development of innovative new services that improve support for people impacted by suicide. This includes the local NextSteps program, an aftercare program for people who have presented to an Emergency Department for a suicidal crisis. The program supports their transition from hospital-based care to the community.
The Collaborative has also supported the rollout of Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) to more than 6,900 students in Year 9. YAM is a school-based program that teaches young people how to look after themselves and their school mates. The Collaborative worked closely on all aspects of the program’s implementation, from preparing resources and recruiting schools, to coordinating YAM instructors.
Our lived experience members have been involved in the development of Safe Spaces at a regional, state and national level. Safe Spaces are drop-in spaces staffed by peer workers with their own lived experience of crisis and recovery. These spaces aim to provide a genuine alternative to Emergency Departments for people in suicidal distress. The Illawarra Shoalhaven is the first region to have completed a local co-design model for the Safe Space that will be up and running soon.
To learn more about the Collaborative, read our Report Card 2019 or watch our Evaluation video below!
Some members of the Collaborative reflect on what's working and what could be improved.