By Sue Leitch
Chief Executive Officer
I HAVE just returned from Brisbane where I attended the National Suicide Prevention Conference 2017, with support from a Tasmanian Government bursary.
Featuring international experts in suicide prevention, the conference allowed me to hear from some very passionate people who are creating safe local communities focused on both mental and physical wellbeing.
Guided by skilled experts who have firsthand knowledge of the issues and concerns of their own communities, this grassroots work helps to address the issue of suicide.
It was inspirational to hear some of the types of models that have been adopted to make a difference around Australia.
This includes work with older people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people, the LGBTI community and other “at-risk” groups in sectors such as tradespeople and health workers.
Our own local model was applauded, with Speak Up Stay ChatTY winning a LIFE award from Suicide Prevention Australia at the conference dinner.
Another local worker from the Tasmanian north west coast was also given a LIFE award for her work in the community.
It really came home to me during the conference that one of the very important reasons we have events, clubs and social programs in our community is to protect us all.
One of the main areas of risk for older people is social isolation and the stereotypes of older people – these are health factors that can affect people’s mobility and depression.
Other factors such as health and wellbeing, financial security and feelings of belonging are positive values of strong communities that can protect us all from risk in this area.
This gives me great encouragement and validates the work done to learn what is important to older Tasmanians.
This has helped to shape policy for the next five-years and one part of this is to work in the local area to create strong, liveable communities.
This is a role we can all play a part in by being involved or supporting someone else to be involved in community life.
We can all help to create safe environments where people can feel safe to talk about their concerns with their friends, neighbours and community members.
This brings me to Liveable Communities – a part of the Tasmanian Government’s ‘Strong Liveable Communities: Tasmania’s Active Ageing Plan 2017- 2022.’
A Liveable Community supports people of all ages to engage and participate in community life.
Some of the features of a Liveable Community include:
Transport or infrastructure that enables people to access buildings and public spaces.
Housing that allows people to remain independent and safe.
Easily accessible health and community services.
Opportunities for all ages to participate in work, education and recreation.
As part of Tasmania’s Active Ageing Plan, the Tasmanian Government will deliver the Liveable Community Grants Program to provide local councils with the opportunity to improve their community’s ability to respond to and include all people, regardless of their age or mobility.
COTA is supporting these grants by producing a Liveable Communities Toolkit to assist councils to audit their community’s liveability, identify barriers for older people to participate and identify action to improve liveability.
A strong focus in these toolkits will be the importance of consulting with members of the community to ensure relevant issues are addressed.
We will also include some of this new information in the area of suicide prevention in local communities.
I encourage members of the community to speak with their council to encourage them to apply for these grants and help identify possible projects that will improve their community’s liveability.
The first grant round will soon be opening.
If you have any concerns, please contact Lifeline by phoning 131 114, visit www.lifeline.org.au or Beyond Blue on www.beyondblue.org.au.