Our Work


The CBPATSISP produces reports on key topics related to Indigenous suicide prevention.

Wellbeing and Healing through Connection and Culture (2020)

In 2020, Lifeline commissioned Professor Pat Dudgeon et al to provide this evidence review.

Aboriginal Participatory action research: An Indigenous research methodology strengthening decolonisation and social and emotional wellbeing (2020)

Focusing on Indigenous wellbeing paradigms, discourses, and disciplines this discussion paper was co-authored by Professor Pat Dudgeon and published by the Lowitja Institute.

Roadmap to recovery: Reporting on a research taskforce supporting Indigenous responses to COVID-19 in Australia (2020)

This report to the Commonwealth Government by Group of Eight universities, which outlined an approach to ensuring the physical and mental health and wellbeing of Indigenous people during the Covid-19 pandemic, was co-authored by Professor Pat Dudgeon.

Developing best practice guidelines for the psychosocial assessment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting to hospital with self-harm and suicidal thoughts (2020)

Developed with the Menzies School of Health Research, these evidence-based guidelines are intended to improve the quality of care and outcomes for Indigenous people who go to hospital with suicidal thoughts or behaviours.

Implementation workshop reports: Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration Implementation Guide and the CBPATSISP Indigenous Governance Framework (2018-19)

In late 2018 and throughout 2019, the CBPATSISP and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health (NATSILMH) co-hosted a national series of workshops to discuss implementation of the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration and the CBPATSISP Indigenous Governance Framework. Reports on the outcomes of the workshops are listed here:

Workshop on Challenges and Opportunities in Relation to Strengthening the Social and Emotional Wellbeing Workforce (2019)

In May 2019 the CBPATSISP co-hosted a workshop with Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group (ATSIMHSPAG), intended to:
- share knowledge, wisdom and preferred ways of working among the existing SEWB workforce
- identify structural and practical supports to strengthen the SEWB and mental health workforces and systems
- prioritise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce at worker, organisational and systems levels
- agree on ways to strengthen and sustain the SEWB workforce.
This report details the workshop outcomes.

We are not the problem, we are part of the solution: Indigenous Lived Experience Project Report (2018)

In June 2018, the CBPATSISP facilitated a workshop to investigate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lived experiences of suicide. This report details the workshop outcomes.

Implementing Integrated Suicide Prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities – A Guide for Primary Health Networks (2018)

This document supports Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to implement integrated approaches to suicide prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Indigenous Governance for Suicide Prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities (2018)

This is the second Guide to support Primary Health Networks (PHNs) working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations to co-design and co-implement integrated approaches to suicide prevention.

Global Overview – Indigenous Suicide Rates (2018)

This background paper presents an overview of suicide in Indigenous peoples in countries where there is a dominant White society. These countries share similar colonial histories and all but Greenland have Indigenous populations that are significantly smaller than the non-Indigenous population.

Indigenous Lived Experience of Suicide: Literature Review (2018)

This literature review informed the establishment at the Black Dog Institute of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre.

Empowerment and Accountability in Indigenous Youth Suicide Prevention – Report on Workshop Proceedings (2019)

In response to the high rate of suicide deaths among Indigenous young people and children, and the Western Australian Coroner’s report of the Inquest into the 13 Deaths of Children and Young Persons in the Kimberley Region, the CBPASTSISP co-hosted Youth Suicide Prevention workshop in Canberra in April 2019. This report details the workshop outcomes.

Aboriginal Youth Wellbeing Workshop Report (2019)

A workshop on Aboriginal youth wellbeing was held in Broome in August 2019 to inform the Western Australian Government’s response to the Learnings from the Message Stick report into youth suicide in remote areas and the Western Australian Coroner’s report of the Inquest into the 13 Deaths of Children and Young Persons in the Kimberley Region. This report details the workshop outcomes.

Guidelines for best practice psychosocial assessment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting to hospital with self-harm and suicidal thoughts (2019)

These guidelines contain recommendations for the effective and appropriate psychosocial assessment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting to hospital with self-harm and suicidal thoughts. These guidelines are important for all practitioners, and particularly non-Indigenous practitioners, to better understand their capacity to engage more responsibly with Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) found that several critical changes were necessary to shift into a more empowering and effective space within Aboriginal suicide prevention. Ensuring that all relevant mental health staff achieve key performance indicators in cultural competence and delivery of trauma informed care was one of these recommendations.



Research Programs


Consortium Partners

The CBPATSISP is a consortium led by The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the School of Indigenous Studies, University of Western Australia, with partners:

National Suicide Prevention Leadership & Support Program Partners

The CBPATSISP is funded through the Commonwealth Government’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program, and has a formal partnership, established through a Memorandum of Understanding, with four organisations funded under the same program:

National Governance Committee

A National Governance Committee has been established to provide expert guidance and advice regarding to the CBPATSISP. The Committee coordinates activities across the consortium and provides high level advice to support suicide prevention initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. It includes members representing the national consortium and other partners, as well as other organisations and individuals active in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention.

Professor Jill Milroy is Palyku from the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Jill is Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous Education at the University of Western Australia and is the Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.

She has more than 30 years experience in Indigenous higher education developing programs and support services for Indigenous students as well as a range of Indigenous curriculum and research initiatives.

Jill has served on a number of national policy advisory bodies and in 2011 was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of her services to Indigenous education. Her key research interest is in Aboriginal knowledge, history, place and story systems.

Professor Tom Calma AO is an Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group whose traditional lands are south west of Darwin and on the Coburg Peninsula in the Northern Territory of Australia, respectively.

He has been involved in Indigenous affairs at a local, community, state, national and international level and worked in the public sector for more than 40 years and is currently a member of many boards and committees focusing on rural and remote Australia, health, mental health, suicide prevention, education, justice reinvestment, research, reconciliation and economic development.

These include: Reconciliation Australia; Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation; Poche Centres for Indigenous Health Network; The Charles Perkins Trust; Ninti-One Ltd; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group; NSW Justice Reinvestment for Aboriginal Young People Campaign; National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health and the Healing Our Spirits Worldwide – The Eighth Gathering and a number of public and education sector committees. He is an Ambassador for Suicide Prevention Australia.

Prof Calma was the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner from 2004 to 2010 and Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 until 2009 at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Prof Calma chaired the advisory group that developed the inaugural National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy, is a SPA Ambassador and co-chairs with Prof Pat Dudgeon the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group to the Commonwealth government.

Professor Pat Dudgeon was born and raised in Darwin and is descended from the Bardi people in the Kimberley.

As well as being the Director of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP), 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.

Glenn Pearson is Head of Aboriginal Research at the Telethon Kids Institute in Western Australia, joining the Institute in 2005.

As an accomplished educator, advocate and policy advisor, his directive is to ensure the Institute’s work reflects the needs of Aboriginal families, and is conducted in accordance with ethical and cultural protocols. Glenn brings to this role 15 years of working in senior positions within the WA and Australian Governments with experience in health, education and child protection.

He has been the Institute’s lead in the WA Aboriginal Health Knowledge Network (WAAHKN), a joint initiative of the Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA), the Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) and the Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) to establish four research hubs across WA with the first to be established in Broome. Glenn is completing a doctorate at UWA, with his research project exploring the delivery of child protection, health and educational services to Aboriginal families in Perth and Geraldton.

In addition to leading the Kulunga Aboriginal Research Development Unit (KARDU), Glenn is a member of the Telethon Institute’s leadership team. He led the establishment of its Telethon Kids Kimberley Office, co-located in the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) in Broome, enabling the Institute to maintain a permanent presence across the Kimberley, and providing a model for conducting Aboriginal research in regions such as the Pilbara, Kalgoorlie and Perth metro.

He currently sits on several boards in a continued commitment to make a positive difference in the lives of Aboriginal children and their families, including as Deputy Chair for the WA State Government’s Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention and as Chair of the Sister Kate’s Home Kids Corporation Board.

Professor Neil Drew AM is Director of the Australia Indigenous HealthInfoNet, an internet resource that informs practice and policy in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by making research and other knowledge readily accessible. Neil has postgraduate qualifications in social psychology and more than 30 years’ experience working with a diverse range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and groups.

Prior to starting his university career Neil was psychologist for the Department of Family Services in Queensland, working with young offenders and the victims of child sexual abuse, then Head of Counselling and Welfare at Pimlico TAFE in Townsville. He has served on the Boards of many community based organisations including the Open Youth Project, Safecare WA, and the Community Arts Network He previously held positions at the University of Western Australia as Director of its Institute for Regional Development and the University of Notre Dame Australia as Foundation Head of Behavioural Science, Dean of Arts and Sciences and Deputy Head of the University Broome Campus of Reconciliation.

He was program coordinator of the Wundargoodie Aboriginal Youth and Community Wellbeing Program in the East Kimberley, established in 2006. The program promotes wellness and suicide prevention with young people in East Kimberley Aboriginal communities. He is co-author of chapters in the text, Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Mental Health Wellbeing Principles and Practice (2010/14) and co-author of the text Social Psychology and Everyday Life (2020).

Professor Gary Robinson leads the Indigenous Parenting and Family Research and the Suicide Prevention Research themes in the Centre for Child Development and Education.

He has led the evaluation of health, mental health and educational initiatives in the Northern territory, including the Tiwi Coordinated Care Trial (1997-2004) and the National Accelerated Literacy Program (2004-2009).

He has conducted long term ethnographic field research into Aboriginal adolescence, family relationships, parenting, suicide and self harm.

He has been responsible for the development and evaluation of school-based early intervention and prevention programs for Indigenous children and parents in urban and remote communities, with the Ngaripirliga’ajirri program in partnership with the Tiwi Health Board and the Let’s Start Parent-Child Program. In 2012, he led consultations to develop a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, and is currently chief investigator of a study of outcomes of admissions for deliberate self-harm in Northern Territory hospitals.

Sally Bishop is an Assistant Director with the Department of Health, working in suicide prevention. She has worked in allied health for more than 20 years, in regional and metropolitan rehabilitation services settings. Sally has also been a member of Rotary for a number of years, and has a strong interest in supporting the work undertaken in the community sector

Pat Turner AM , the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman, was born in 1952 and raised in Alice Springs. Her long association with Canberra began with a temporary position with the Public Service Board, leading to the Social Policy Branch of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) in 1979.

Joining the Australian Public Service (APS) in Alice Springs as a switchboard operator in the Native Affairs Department , she moved to Canberra in 1978, joining the senior executive ranks of the public service in 1985, when she became Director of the DAA in Alice Springs.

Pat then became First Assistant Secretary, Economic Development Division in the DAA, and in 1989, Deputy Secretary. She worked as Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet during 1991-92, with oversight of the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and with responsibility for the Office of the Status of Women among other matters.

Between 1994 -1998, Pat was CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, which made her the most senior Indigenous government official in Australia. After stints in senior positions at the Department of Health and at Centrelink, Pat Turner left the APS and Canberra in 2006, returning to Alice Springs with her mother to live.

There, she has continued to advocate on the behalf of indigenous people, including taking on what she described as ‘one of the best working experiences of my life’ as CEO of National Indigenous Television (2006 – 2010). Other memorable experiences include a period as Festival Director of the 5th Festival of Pacific Arts in Townsville, Queensland (1987-88) and as Chair of Australian Studies at Georgetown University in Washington DC (1998-99).

Turner retired from the APS in 2006, not particularly happy with the state of the organisation she was leaving, but happy about the prospect of spending more time with family and focusing on grass roots projects. In 2011, she was appointed to the advisory council of the Australian National Preventative Health Agency. In April 2016 she was appointed CEO of NACCHO.

Turner holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Canberra where she was awarded the University prize for Development Studies.

Rob McPhee is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service based in Broome. He has cultural connections to Derby and the Pilbara. He has held a number of roles including teaching positions at Curtin University and the University of Western Australia. Rob has also worked as a senior adviser to the oil and gas industry. He is passionate about social justice for Indigenous people and co-chairs the Commonwealth-funded Kimberley Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Trial Site Working Group.

Fiona Cornforth is the CEO of the Healing Foundation. She is a Wuthathi descendant of the far north east cape of Queensland with family roots also in the Torres Strait Islands. She has an extensive background working as part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ community, business and government initiatives for better outcomes and impact.
On a foundation of senior and leadership roles in the community, and all tiers of government, Fiona has used her management degrees and tertiary teaching accreditation to raise awareness around the impacts of intergenerational trauma and the power and strengths of First Nations peoples’ cultures for healing.
Fiona has gained experience and perspectives in education, leadership and business development globally and shares a message of celebration and gratitude for the greatness of ancestors, Elders, and the ontology and authority that holds her and her family.

Dr Kahu McClintock, with iwi (tribal) affiliations to Waikato/Maniapoto, Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Porou, has worked in the health and disability sector in Aotearoa (New Zealand) for more than 30 years. She holds a DPhil (psychiatry) MPhil (Māori), B Ed, Higher Dip Teaching Dip Nursing (Psychiatric). Kahu was a Member of the Māori Health Committee, New Zealand Health Research Council from 2008 to 2014, and Chair of Ngā Kanohi Kitea Community Research Committee, New Zealand Health Research Council during that term.

In 2014 she was appointed Manager Research at Te Rau Ora (formerly Te Rau Matatini) and successfully led the evaluation of 47 Waka Hourua community suicide initiatives from 2014-2017. She also leads the development and implementation of the National Māori Suicide Prevention Research agenda.

Kahu currently represents her Waikato iwi on the Partnership Governance Board of the Waikato District Health Board and looks forward to being involved in the navigation and establishment of a National Māori Health Authority.

Adjunct Associate Professor Learne Durrington has a long-held professional and personal interest in, and commitment to, improving mental health and wellbeing in vulnerable communities. As the CEO of the WA Primary Health Alliance she influences the design and implementation of suicide prevention activities undertaken by the PHNs in WA. Learne has held senior roles in mental health with responsibility for statewide public mental health services along with a range of policy and funding roles. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor in health services, and holds social work and post graduate management qualifications.

Nieves Murray commenced as CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia in May 2018. Throughout her 30+ year career in the social sciences, Nieves has lived and breathed her passion for enabling vulnerable people to have more choice and control over how they live their lives.

Nieves spent over a decade at the helm of IRT Group, one of Australia’s largest community-owned seniors’ lifestyle and care providers, driving record growth, customer satisfaction and social impact. She has held non-executive leadership roles in financial services, tertiary education, property development, retail, research, health, aged care and retirement living since 2001. Her contributions have been recognised at a regional, national and international level. In 2013 Nieves was named one of Australia’s 100 Most Influential Women by the Australian Financial Review.

As a long-term Lifeline and Vinnie’s Van volunteer and previous Director of Coordinate, the South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network, Nieves has been at the front line of homelessness and mental health in Australia.

A Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Managers and Leaders, Nieves is currently:

  • Independent Chair of Family Spirit, a joint start-up venture by Marist 180 and CatholicCare Sydney.
  • A Member of the University of Wollongong Council and Member of its Audit and Risk and Nominations Committees.
  • A Director of the Community Alliance Credit Union and Member of the Board Governance and Remuneration and Nominations Committees.


The CBPATSISP is Australia’s leading authority on Indigenous suicide and participates actively in policy and consultation processes to ensure that the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are understood and appropriately considered in policy, system and funding decisions at Commonwealth and State and Territory levels.

As a member of Suicide Prevention Australia the CBPATSISP seeks to influence the suicide prevention sector to be inclusive of Indigenous people in its systemic advocacy, ensuring equitable investment in Indigenous-specific suicide prevention reponses, while promoting cultural safety in mainstream programs and services.

Policy Submissions and Statements

Mental health charities call for stronger action on climate change and support for NGO’s in the lead up to Black Summer Bushfire anniversary – September 2020

Fourteen leading Australian mental health, homelessness, disability and representative organisations, including the Center for Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP), have come together to urge federal, state and territory governments to take stronger action to address the climate crisis and reduce emissions to protect the mental health and wellbeing of the Australian community. You can find the joint statement here.

Analysis: Coroners Court of Victoria report of the Victorian suicides of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – July 2020

The Center for Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) has analysed a new report aimed at reducing Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicides, and presents their analysis here. You can find the Coroners Court of Victoria findings here.

Call for Action: The WA Government needs to commit to investing in the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal people – May 2020

This statement is from the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre (KALACC), Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS), the Kimberley Land Council (KLC), Empowered Communities East Kimberley (ECEK) and the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention at the University of Western Australia (CBPATSISP).

Call for Action: The State Government Needs to Commit to Addressing Kimberley Youth Suicide – March 2020

This statement is from the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC), the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) and the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention at the University of Western Australia.

Comments on the Productivity Commission Draft Report on Mental Health – February 2020

The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health (NATSILMH) prepared a joint submission for the Productivity Commission.

Other Contributions

WA Coroner’s Inquest into the deaths of thirteen children and young people in the Kimberley region

This report, which concluded 12 of 13 deaths of children and young people were suicides, drew extensively on the expert testimony of Professor Pat Dudgeon and on the ATSISPEP Solutions That Work report.

Learnings from the message stick: The report of the Inquiry into Aboriginal youth suicide in remote areas

Education and Health Standing Committee, WA Parliament (2016) This report drew extensively on the work of Professor Pat Dudgeon, the ATSISPEP Solutions That Work report and the National Empowerment Project.

Advisory Appointments

Professor Pat Dudgeon contributes expertise to a broad range of governance and advisory groups. These include:

Member: Aboriginal Family Safety Project Advisory Panel

Chair: Indigenous Statistical and Information Advisory Group

Chair: Data group for Working Party

Member: Expert Panel, WA Children and Young People Wellbeing Survey

Inaugural Chair and current Member: Steering Committee
Founding Member

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