News & Media
The media is an important source of information and a powerful influence on public attitudes. Research in Australia and overseas has shown that the way the media report on suicide and mental health can influence public and private attitudes to these issues.
See Mindframe guidelines about issues to consider when communicating about suicide with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people.
CBPATSISP works with individuals and organisations to encourage responsible, accurate and sensitive media representation of Indigenous suicide, including the support of a collective of Indigenous suicide prevention spokespeople from around the country representing a broad range of expertise, experiences and communities, to contribute strength-focussed and evidence-based commentary and reporting in the mainstream media.
It is important that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people talk about their own issues, particularly local people. The following leaders have agreed to provide media commentary.
To contact spokespeople and for media enquiries please contact our main office on +61 8 6488 6925
Professor Pat Dudgeon was born and raised in Darwin and is descended from the Bardi people in the Kimberley.
She was the first Indigenous Australian psychologist, and is currently the Director of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP), funded under the Commonwealth Government’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program and based at the University of Western Australia. She is also a Chief Investigator on an NHMRC Million Minds Mission Grant, Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing.
Professor Dudgeon led the highly influential Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP). The 2016 ATSISPEP report Solutions That Work: What the Evidence and Our People Tell Us, systematically documented for the first time the role of colonisation and trauma in Indigenous suicide, and the central role of Indigenous-led cultural responses in suicide prevention. This work remains the key text in Indigenous suicide prevention and policy.
Professor Dudgeon has published extensively in Indigenous mental health, social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention. She is a Fellow in the Australian Psychological Society and has served on many boards and councils. She is currently a board member of the Indigenous Australian Psychologists Association and of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia. She is a former Commissioner of the Australian National Mental Health Commission.
Professor Dudgeon is actively involved with the Aboriginal community and has a strong commitment to social justice. She always works in ways that empower and develop Indigenous people.
Mark is from the Kabi Kabi tribal group of South Queensland.
Mark brings extensive expertise and experience to the Council. Involved in both clinical and policy work throughout his career, he is currently the Aboriginal Public Health Medical Officer at Apunipima Cape York Health Council, where he is working on health reform across the Cape York Aboriginal communities. Mark has also previously been a Senior Medical Officer at Wuchopperen Health Services in Cairns, a Medical Advisor for the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH) in Canberra, the acting CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), and has worked in community development with World Vision in Papunya, Northern Territory.
Mark is a past president and founder of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and sits on numerous councils and committees. Previously a member on the National Health Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council, he is Chair of Andrology Australia – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health Advisory Committee, board member of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and the AITHM.
Mark is heavily involved in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce and has helped develop several national workforce documents and sat on the COAG Australian Health Workforce Advisory Council. He is also involved in several research projects, and has worked in prison health, refugee health in East Timor, as well as studying and working in Indigenous health internationally.
In recognition of his achievements, Mark received the 2011 AMA Presidents Award for Excellence in Healthcare, the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council Hall of Fame award in 2010 and was one of the chief investigators awarded the MJA best research journal article for 2012.
Tiarnee Schafer is a proud Kalkadunga (Kalkadoon) Kintja from Mt Isa QLD and is currently living in Sydney working at the Black Dog Institute as the iBobbly Project Officer and Social and Emotional Wellbeing Community Liaison. Tiarnee is also a part of Headspace Youth Reference Advisory Group, and Culture is Life Culture Squad Ambassador. She graduated with a double degree in Psychological Science and Business.
After finishing high school, Tiarnee started to notice the high rates of suicide in her community and saw the effects it had on her community and family. She wanted to help her mob and thought the best way to do that would be to study Psychology, which saw her move to Brisbane and attend Griffith University. After completing her Bachelor’s degree, Tiarnee continued on to study a Master of Suicidology and is currently completing her honours thesis in psychology that is on help-seeking behaviours, suicide stigma and literacy. Tiarnee aims to complete her studies at the end of 2021.
Tiarnee’s lived experiences have made her passionate about improving the Social and Emotional Wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. She wants to be able to make a difference by gaining a better understanding of best practice in suicide prevention particularly from a youth-focused perspective and rural and remote viewpoint.
Rob is the chief executive officer of the Danila Dilba Health Service based in Darwin City, Northern Territory. His people hail from Derby in the West Kimberley and the Pilbara region of WA. He has held a number of roles including a lecturer at Curtin and the University of Western Australia and has worked as a senior adviser in community relations and Indigenous affairs to the oil and gas industry. He is passionate about social justice for Indigenous people and currently co-chairs the Commonwealth funded Kimberley Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Trial Working Group.
Michael Wright is a Yuat Nyoongar man from the Moora and New Norcia area of Western Australia, north of Perth. He has worked as a hospital-based social worker and as a mental health service manager and completed a Masters of Applied Epidemiology from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University in 2004. In 2010, Michael completed his PhD (Curtin University) which explored Aboriginal families’ access to mental health services and, in the same year, secured a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) post-doctoral fellowship to conduct applied research investigating the barriers Aboriginal families faced in accessing those services. Through several large research projects—focused on changing service delivery and their responsiveness—he has worked in partnership with Nyoongar (Aboriginal) Elders, community members (including young people) and service staff to address the disconnect between Nyoongar peoples and mental health services in the Metropolitan Perth. These projects have been located on Wadjuk boodja, one of fourteen regions that cover the lower South West of Western Australia.
Associate Professor Wright’s process for engaging with Nyoongar peoples to co-design health services has been cited in the WA Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drug Services Plan 2015–2025 as a best practice in working with Aboriginal people; by the Western Australian Association for Mental Health; and, the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention. Michael has also held positions as the Head of Aboriginal Health Research at KARDU, Telethon Kids Institute, and was a member of the Mental Health Advisory Council Member (Ministerial appointment).
Most recently Associate Professor Wright received funding for a five year Medical Research Future Fund (Million Minds Mission) project which will see Elders, youth and service providers come together to build relationships, evaluate current services, develop new service models and evaluate changes to practice. This project will involve services in six regional Western Australian centres and is grounded in Aboriginal ways of being, knowing and doing.
Michael is an Associate Professor at Curtin University in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Associate Professor Wright’s experience, understandings, and expertise are highly regarded and recognised in the Aboriginal community, with Government and non-Government agencies, and policy-makers.
Tanja is an Aboriginal Australian woman through her mother who was born in Alice Springs. Her grandmother is from the Barkly Tablelands region and Tanja’s paternal grandparents are from Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek, Western Australia. Tanja’s father is from Finland.
Tanja grew up in Mount Isa with her family. Tanja has also lived in the remote and regional locations of Normanton and on cattle properties within the Gulf of Carpentaria for many years.
Tanja is a registered Clinical Psychologist based in North Queensland and has held academic positions, worked at the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) and also works privately.
Tanja serves on the Australian Indigenous Psychology Association as a Board Director. Tanja is passionate about rural and remote practice and working in evidence based and culturally sound ways to make a difference to the health and wellbeing of people. Tanja’s approach incorporates cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), mindfulness skills and ways of working that are culturally sound and safe.
Leilani Darwin is the Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy at the Black Dog Institute. She has recently joined the executive leadership team to drive the work the organisation is doing to be a trusted partner to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, addressing social and emotional wellbeing, suicide prevention and mental health.
Leilani is already well known within the sector for her work and leadership in suicide prevention and mental health. She is a powerful advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led, culturally informed practices within mainstream services. This has been built from her personal lived experience of losing many loved ones to suicide and her own mental ill health.
Through her leadership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre she will continue to work closely with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to support and empower their voices and participation in key policy reform, program development and advisory roles across both the mental health and suicide prevention sector.
The CBPATSISP partners with leading suicide prevention organisation Everymind, which operates the Mindframe project to promote safe media reporting, portrayal and communication about suicide, mental ill-health, alcohol and other drugs.
CBPATSISP in the News
Events & Conferences
2021 Social and Emotional Wellbeing Gathering-2
Following the success of the 1st Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) Gathering, the 2nd SEWB Gathering was held in Perth, Western Australia in October 2021.
2021 Social and Emotional Wellbeing Gathering-1
The 1st Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) Gathering was held in Perth, Western Australia in March 2021.
The aim of the SEWB Gathering was to bring together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies, community organisations, leaders, experts, and front-line workers to create a national SEWB blueprint for the future by exploring 1) where we have been, 2) where we are now, and 3) where we are going.
2018 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference
The 2nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference and 2nd World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference was held in Perth, Western Australia in November 2018.
The theme of the conferences, Building a Stronger Tomorrow: Connecting our Communities Through Culture, reflects the unique opportunities for Indigenous people and communities, policy makers and researchers to share learnings and to collaborate on solutions that work in Indigenous suicide prevention. The Conferences attracted over 550 delegates from across Australia and around the world. The conferences were preceded by the World Indigenous Youth Cultural Exchange Day.
2016 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference
The inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference gathered together experts and members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the wider community from across the country to Alice Springs, the heart of the Aboriginal nations. Over two days those gathered exchanged learnings, share lived experiences, built knowledge and inspired one another as to how we can best strengthen communities to tackle this entrenched tragedy.
Conference images and video are available at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Research Project website.
Community Identity and Displacement Network 2022 Seminar Series
As part of the Community Identity & Displacement Research Network 2022 Seminar Series, CBPATSISP researchers Professor Pat Dudgeon, Belle Selkirk and Dr Joanna Alexi gave a presentation on the topic Decolonising psychology and the transformative role of the Australian Indigenous Psychology Education Project