Elders Report: Preventing Self Hrm and Indigenous Suicide


The Elders report into Preventing Self-harm & Indigenous suicide. Indigenous youth suicide in Australia has now risen to become one of the highest in the world. In the Kimberley alone there is one attemped Indigenous suicide per week. The percentage of Indigenous suicide has increased from 5% of total suicide in 1991 to 50% in 2010. The most dramatic increase was in youth aged 10 – 24, where the percentage of Indigenous youth suicide increased from 10% in 1991 to 80% in 2010. The suicide incidence in relation to gender shows that 91 per cent of Indigenous suicides were male victims and 9% female victims from 2000–2005. The relationship changed in the 2006–2010 period, with 82% male and 18% female, with half the female suicides under the age of 17 years, an emerging trend. “Girls now account for a previously unheard of 40 per cent of all suicides of children under the age of 17 – an unprecedented rate in Northern Territory indigenous communities. The proportion of indigenous girls committing suicide in the Territory is now the highest in the Western world.” Dr Howard Bath, Children’s Commissioner for the Northern Territory, February 2012. Non-existent 20 years ago, it is now a social issue that is tearing communities and families apart across remote, regional and urban Aboriginal Australia. Survival of traditional cultural life in these Communities is now at crossroads, urgent action is needed. Government approaches to Aboriginal mental health are not working. Communities are calling out to be heard, and for community-led solutions to be supported. The Elders and Community leaders understand many of the causes behind the self harm and suicide phenomenon and are asking to lead in the healing process of their people. The Culture is Life campaign has been spearheaded by Indigenous Elders to create a solutions-based report (film, photography and written) on community perspectives for preventing, and ultimately ending, Indigenous youth suicide. 32 Elders from across Australia were chosen by their Communities to be involved in the report. The Elders healing solutions have been recorded and directly transcribed to build the report (there are no non-Indigenous voices within this report). Funds are now needed to design, print and distribute the report to all members of the State and Federal parliament as well as key stakeholders in the medical, academic and legal communities. The report features a foreword by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mr Mick Gooda and Introduction by Prof Pat Dudgeon, Co chair Aboriginal Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group, Commissioner National Mental Health Commission. http://www.cultureislife.org – See more at: http://startsomegood.com/Venture/culture_is_life/Campaigns/Show/culture_is_life_elders_report#sthash.KUrFM9aq.dpuf


the illegality and horror of ‘enhanced screening’

Hello peoples – this article written by Nick Olle is comprehensive in terms of understanding the actualities of so called ‘advanced screenings’ and the lived and terrifying effects on people seeking safety.  The so called ‘authorities’ are not only secretive or silent about what they are doing to asylum seekers but are using speed to circumvent any assistance or advocacy that may be possible for those being ‘screened’!  This too amounts to what i see as war crimes by the Australian government against a number of groups of people fleeing persecution – including Tamils, Iranian and Vietnamese peoples.  Note too that Morrisson has announced that anyone arriving from Sri Lanka seeking refuge will be immediately deported…. Janet

Operation Enhanced Screenings – Nick Olle

The Global Mail October 24 2013


Interrogated without a lawyer and sent back en masse to the country they risked their lives to flee — Australia is expanding its controversial fast-track “enhanced screening process”.

As many as 30 unaccompanied Vietnamese men were deported from Perth this week – most of them after only a single interview with two immigration officials, without a lawyer present.

The move signals that Australia’s controversial “enhanced screening process” – previously known to be applied to Sri Lankan asylum seekers – is now being broadened to include Vietnamese.

Most Vietnamese nationals held in Australian immigration detention are seeking asylum on the basis of religious or political persecution; they cite abuses against Catholics and dissidents in their homeland, a single-party Communist state.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has confirmed to refugee advocates names of at least 20 deportees. Some of the men were transferred from detention in Darwin to Western Australia’s Yongah Hill detention centre immediately before the removal process began.

At least some of those deported had also been interviewed two months ago, with the permission of the Australian government, by Vietnamese officers from Section A18 of the Ministry of Public Security. Officially, the A18 is Vietnam’s Office of Controlling Exit and Entry, but it is widely known as a secret police force that also monitors and disciplines Vietnamese citizens.

On Wednesday, an advocate contacted to confirm the reports told The Global Mail:

“It seems they were bussed out of [Yongah Hill] last night and don’t know what happened next, but can only imagine they are back in [Vietnam] by now. People are in shock. I have various reports of 20 or 25 or 30 or 40, don’t know. Some say they were mainly people who were exposed to the [Vietnamese] police and signed something with them. They were coerced into signing things they didn’t understand – it is just bad news.

“[The immigration department] has only acknowledged receiving lawyer/advocate requests to talk to them before their deportation, but no actual news of what happened to them, and no contact was made.

“The closest equivalent in the criminal justice system would be if a police officer conducted the initial police interview of a suspect without a lawyer present, decided that the suspect was guilty and so dispensed with the courts …”

− Rachel Ball, HRLC

“Very wishful thinking is that they could be on [Christmas Island] but I think I am deceiving myself with this small chance of hope. So they were given no notice at all, and were not allowed to call or talk to anyone once they were locked in the room. Information blackout for them and us.”

Around the time of the A18 interviews at the detention centre, one Vietnamese detainee tried to hang himself and another five successfully escaped, though they were later recaptured.

All of the unaccompanied Vietnamese men deported this week had signed protection-request forms, asking to be represented by the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre (RILC), according to asylum-seeker advocates.

Under the “enhanced screening process”, introduced a year ago by the Labor government, two officials from Australia’s immigration department conduct an initial interview with asylum seekers – who may not be informed of their legal rights – and, on the basis of that interview, decide whether they are eligible to make a claim for refugee status. If the answer is no, they are scheduled for deportation.

Rachel Ball, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at the Human Rights Law Centre said: “The closest equivalent in the criminal justice system would be if a police officer conducted the initial police interview of a suspect without a lawyer present, decided that the suspect was guilty and so dispensed with the courts, judges, juries, rules of evidence and appeals mechanisms and just sent the accused to prison.”

More than 1,000 Sri Lankans have already been deported under this process, according to a critical Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) report released on October 22. The report raises several concerns with the enhanced screening process, including its failure to offer detainees legal representation or other normal safeguards, such as a written record of the reasons for the decision, and the fact that the screening interviews, “may be brief and not sufficiently detailed or probing to ensure that all relevant protection claims are raised”.

The UNHCR has labelled the enhanced screening process “unfair and unreliable”.

Shayla Strapps, CEO and principal solicitor of the Perth-based organisation CASE For Refugees, told The Global Mail: “I’m not sure what label government is putting on this process. Enhanced screening was essentially brought in for Sri Lankans. They [the government] just say they are trying to move those with no claim offshore quickly.”

Strapps adds, “Our concern is in relation to those who have been screened out – with no access to lawyers, there is a serious risk of refoulement.” Under the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, which Australia has signed, “No Contracting State shall expel or return (‘refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

The RILC frequently intervenes on behalf of screened-out asylum seekers who it deems have a legitimate case for protection. The Global Mail has spoken to one Vietnamese family in a Darwin immigration facility, who were saved from imminent deportation thanks to the intervention of the centre, following initial intervention by advocacy groups.

“They [immigration] did it on a weekend and they didn’t have request forms signed so we didn’t have time to get to them.”

− Nam Pham, Vietnamese community leader

Perth-based Vietnamese community leader Nam Pham calls advocates’ work with asylum seekers “a race against time”. He cites the example of two brothers recently deported from Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre: “They [immigration] did it on a weekend and they didn’t have request forms signed so we didn’t have time to get to them.”

Pham is in intermittent contact with one of the brothers back in Vietnam, who he says is being harassed and “consistently asked to go and see the police”.

And those left behind in detention – even those who’ve been “screened in” for further consideration of their asylum claim – are “scared and panicked”, Pham says.

“They think they could be next [to be deported].”

Another source reported on Thursday that the deportees had arrived at Ho Chi Minh Airport. In Yongah Hill detention centre, detainees have heard there may be weekly removals to Vietnam.

The office of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison has not replied to requests for comment from The Global Mail.

In his October 18 briefing, Morrison referred to enhanced screening of Sri Lankans who had arrived by boat as a success, saying that “Under Operation Sovereign Borders we are taking a much stronger position on these issues, we are not dealing in half measures under protest.

“I have instructed the Department to enforce the screen out procedure policy on all Sri Lankan arrivals regardless of their pathway to Australia,” Morrison said.

Castlemaine Viigil: Attempted Suicide at MITA

Hello Castlemainians.

This info was gratefully received from RISE facebook posted 14th October 2013.

Attempted Suicide in MITA by refugee detained indefinitely due to adverse ASIO assessment

M47 the adverse ASIO refugee who is still detained in Australia’s immigration detention centre for at least 4 years despite the finding by the Australian high court that the minister cannot deny him a protection visa based on his adverse ASIO assessment (http://tinyurl.com/n7hue63) has been found hanging in Melbourne immigration transit accommodation after an attempted suicide.

Castlemainians, should you wish to write him a letter or card you can drop it off at the Vigil and I will get it to him …

Ourrrgh – heartbreaking.  What torture – 4 years in detention and still indefinite. ************ to all those immigration ministers.  And all my love, tenderness and  – oh I am so sorry this is happening to you – and once again I do not know your name – only a number enforced on you.  I am sending gallons of love to the moon – may you feel some warmth, some love. – Janet

Following are some tweets copied from RISE  and posted 3am 15/10/2013 – latest tweets are at the top of this post and the earliest at the bottom… hope you can read it….

RISE@riserefugee                2h

Many more refugees given ASIO negative during @KRuddMP @JuliaGillard government than during Howard government #auspol #humanrights                  4h 

.@ScottMorrisonMP has the power to release refugee M47 detained for over 4 years    

Rise    ‏@riserefugee                4h 

Fears minors sent offshore alone

But yesterday on Nauru, resident Clint Deidenang claimed to have seen what appeared to be unaccompanied minors getting off a plane from Christmas Island and on to a bus for detention.“There were kids with their parents all together in little groups but there was also teenagers walking alone, one by one,” he said. “They seemed to be unaccompanied minors.”One refugee advocate told The Australian that unaccompanied minors on Christmas Island were visited on Tuesday night by immigration officials who told them to prepare for transfer to Nauru “within 40 hours”.

via Fears minors sent offshore alone.

State Secrets / State Violences

:The following tweets give some idea of some of the secrets being held:

1.  kon karapanagiotidis     ‏@Kon__K                6 Oct

1st known suicide attempt by a woman seeking asylum at Nauru Detention Centre via @clintd22 #auspol #shameful #refugees

2.  kon karapanagiotidis     ‏@Kon__K                7 Oct

Scott Morrisson gives all asylum seeker addresses to police and enforces ‘mandatory beahaviour’ protocols.

Kon K says:

Handing over the addresses of #asylum seekers to the police & mandatory behaviour protocols. How about a yellow star Scott Morrison? #auspol

3. The Guardian     ‏@guardian8 Oct

Indonesian military pursuing me, says West Papuan who occupied consulate:  http://gu.com/p/3jdvp/tf RIS

4. RISE @riserefugee                10th october

Australian immigration detention centres are called “factories of mental illness”

http://tinyurl.com/kwkpyuo #WHMD2013#auspol#mentalhealth#refugees

5. SBS News     ‏@SBSNews                11th October

Asylum seeker boat intercepted off Cocos Islands yesterday, government

6. RISE (Refugee Survivors and Ex-detainees)

Scott Morrison imposes information blackout on self-harm in detention

‘That is not something you’ll hear me discussing,’ says immigration minister



Macklin said we will take child suicides seriously

Macklin said we will take child suicides seriously

The Stringer
October 5th, 2013

Empowerment and pride are a formula that works positively to the betterment of the human condition, and to individual freedoms. Where empowerment and pride are lacking, communities and individuals languish in both dysfunction and malfunction, with the worst culminating in suicide. This explains in part the world’s highest suicide rates which are found among the world’s Aboriginal peoples. With the worst rate found among Aboriginal peoples in Australia – especially among its youth.

Australia’s Aboriginal youth is seven times more likely to kill itself than its non-Aboriginal counterparts. This national shame has been effectively criminally neglected by State and federal governments and there is no show or sign by them of funding Aboriginal controlled and Aboriginal serviced suicide prevention strategies. There is no sign of governments wiping away the ridiculous third world impoverishment that 100,000 Aboriginal peoples endure in this first world nation – the world’s 12th largest economy, per capita the second wealthiest nation on the planet, with the world’s highest median wages. There is no sign of governments dishing out equality, of improving the well-being of community with equity the equivalency to that of non-Aboriginal communities and townships, nor of respecting adequately the cultural integrity and rights of Aboriginal peoples particularly in the remote and regional areas – and therefore rather than cultural bridges there are only more cultural divides.

Determinism plays its hand as Aboriginal youth are born into grief, into the effects of the Stolen Generations, into cultural divides where cultural healing is still to be realised, into cultural loss, into racism and into the endless deaths – premature deaths.

Far too many Elders and community leaders have said to me that most Australians cannot or fail to realise how much grief Aboriginal children are exposed to. People dying from suicide – adults and youth – dying prematurely from illnesses – the passing of life happens either weekly, fortnightly but not any further apart than monthly in Aboriginal remote and regional communities.

Aboriginal suicides were not always the tragic common occurrence that it is now, it first surged in the 1980s but not to the tragic levels that we now have. Suicide among Aboriginal peoples is nearly four times that of non-Aboriginal peoples, but Aboriginal children are killing themselves at more than seven times the rate of non-Aboriginal children – and as young as eight years of age, boys and girls.

The rise in Aboriginal suicides is not limited to Australia, though in terms of proportion to total population, Australia is the world’s worst tragedy, owning the worst rates. First Nations peoples around the world – Canada’s Inuits, New Zealand’s Maoris, America’s First Nations peoples, Latin America’s First Nations peoples, and particularly the Amazonian peoples, are dealing with likewise horrific disproportionate suicide rates – adults and youth.

Many are confused by the spates and spikes of suicides, having presumed that the granting of rights to First Nations peoples all around the world would improve their well-being.

671,000 Australians identify as Aboriginal, but if we standalone the poorest 150,000 of our Aboriginal peoples, a significant proportion of them are living in third-world akin conditions in the world’s 12th largest economy. These statistics underwrite research I have titled “The Aboriginal Clock.”

Since releasing my findings that Aboriginal youth are dying at the world’s highest rates it was sad to note that it did not stir much of a ripple, not much impact at all on the Australian consciousness. The chronic neglect and maltreatment of Aboriginal peoples are matter-of-fact in Australia. We accept much with very little outcry; the news media and governments despite highlighting chronic problems do not prioritise Aboriginal peoples and the underlying issues. Racism has many veils and layers.

Thirty years ago Aboriginal youth was not killing itself at the rates we have today, nor was this case twenty years ago, and ten years ago the suicide rates were much lower than today. The suicide rates are on the rise, the median ages of suicides are getting younger – this evidences the sense of hopelessness felt by many. Much of the hope of previous generations invested in the Black Power movements, in the Land Rights movements, in the striving for Treaty and equality has dissipated for many Aboriginal peoples who have waited and nothing positive has eventuated for them, and for many the belief is that they have less now than they did two decades ago. I have interviewed more than 100 Territorian Aboriginal Elders, and similarly more than 100 Aboriginal Western Australian Elders for research titled “Climate of Death” and “People are not the Property of People; the Northern Territory is a prison built brick by brick by the Commonwealth” and the overwhelming majority described beliefs that all that they or their parents struggled for two and three decades ago has now vanished.

They despair at being effectively forced into surrendering culture, their homelands, their right to their historical identity. They were prepared for integration and the best of both worlds but they reject assimilation. No other cultures in Australia despite the various xenophobia that prevails contemporaneously have been so harangued as Aboriginal peoples are to let go of their historical and cultural identities – that is beyond the insulting tokenism we are prepared to allow.

They have no trust in ministries of Aboriginal Affairs or in a Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs, they do not believe any longer in the presumption these perceivably affirmative actions will deliver what is now long overdue. The majority of those I have spoken with, hundreds, inherently fear these ministries which they believe are responsible for corralling them and extinguishing many of their rights and freedoms. They see these ministries, as I do too, as covert, whether inadvertent or not, social engineering attempts by Governments and their bureaucracies, and that the colonialist attitudes continue.

The majority of Aboriginal peoples, especially those among the poorest 150,000, and which my cluster surveys clearly indicate, are all for a Treaty, and without a Treaty they do not believe they will be rightly respected as Aboriginal peoples and allowed to be free in their own Country.

The majority have said that rather than ministries of Aboriginal Affairs they would prefer Aboriginal peoples in parliament. In New Zealand seven of the 70 parliamentary seats are reserved for Maoris. The majority of those whom I have interviewed, once again in the hundreds, would prefer for instance 7 or 8 of the 76 Senate seats for Aboriginal people. They also want to see all major political parties ensure Aboriginal representation. This would be inspiring electoral reform, something to which I too, for more than a decade, have been calling for. However the resistance will be huge but it can be achieved. In one University I worked at, I was on their peak academic planning council and also on the University Senate (the Board of the University) and in 2008 I lobbied quite hard to introduce a unit of compulsory Aboriginal studies to all undergraduate students. It was met with huge resistance and from those I least expected. In the end I managed to secure the fifth recommendation, substantive Aboriginal studies by Aboriginal scholars as a component of the introductory unit to all undergraduate students – an Australia-first.

We have long known what Canada’s Dr Michael Chandler and I have validated – that the rates of Aboriginal suicides, the world over, are higher than that of non-Aboriginal populations. Each life lost should have been a message to get our state of affairs in order – this is the best prevention strategy, to allow people their full suite of rights, the right to equality, the right to be who they want to be within a normative setting of their own. Each life lost reminds us of our prejudices, our biases, our racism, our failure to resist the simple mindedness of assimilation. Between 1994 to 2006, the rate of Aboriginal suicides averaged 25.7 per 100,000, that is 70 per cent higher than in non-Aboriginal Australia.

Early last year the federal government promised to back recommendations from The Gone Too Soon report, released by a Northern Territorian parliamentary committee. In the Northern Territory between 2007 to 2011, with Aboriginal children accounting for 75 per cent of all child suicides. At the time, federal Indigenous Affairs minister Jenny Macklin said, “We will make sure that we make a considered response and also make sure that the additional services that we put in place correspond to the recommendations in the report.” More than a year later little has been done, next-to-nothing.

“We will take this report very seriously,” had said Ms Macklin.

Twenty three recommendations were made which included the assignment of youth engagement officers from within the police, more mental health workers, psychiatrists and counsellors. These have not been lived up to nor the calls heeded for the integrity of cultural identity, pride and empowerment within communities and peoples, and their homelands, by Wes Morris, Dr Michael Chandler and many others.

The Gone Too Soon report found that Aboriginal suicide programs, run by Government and their services, not by Aboriginal controlled services, are fragmented and uncoordinated and continue to fail to stem the tide of suicides

Somali Community denied access to young Somali boy who attempted suicide

The following article about a Beautiful Boy (see poem for Beautiful Boy on this blog) who is gravely ill and traumatised in hospital in Perth after a suicide attempt on Christmas Island is being made to suffer further as Somali people who would care for him, speak to him in Somali, create a family of people who share his history, many of the traumas he has experienced, language, culture, sense of belonging … are denied access to him under the guise of ‘privacy’.  It is beyond belief and yet it is true.  Truly this is a horrific war this invader-australier is engaging in.

Suicide-bid asylum boy: access denied:


The Australian September 02, 2013 


                       THE Somali community is pleading with the Immigration Department to let it provide support for an unaccompanied teenage countryman who tried to hang himself on Christmas Island. The teenager, who is in a Perth hospital, is subject to Labor’s Papua New Guinea Solution, which prevents asylum-seekers settling in Australia even if they are found to be refugees.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship has rejected the request from the Somali community to provide assistance, claiming the boy’s privacy must be respected and the priority must be on his mental health.

The 16-year-old, who was flown from the remote island to Perth last Sunday in a medical emergency, arrived without a parent or guardian and, as such, Immigration Minister Tony Burke is his legal guardian. The department would not say what the consequences of the boy’s physical and mental health condition were on his legal status and asylum claim.  

Human rights lawyer George Newhouse said hiding behind privacy in the case of a minor was “unconscionable” when there was no way of guaranteeing the minister was properly performing his role as guardian. He called for an independent guardian to be appointed for unaccompanied asylum-seeker children and people with certain disabilities.

The Somali community believes it could help the department in tracking down the boy’s family or people he may know here or overseas.  Hassan Egal, president of the Somali Community Association in Western Australia, said they were concerned he could be returned to immigration detention, possibly in PNG or Nauru.

“We are concerned about his medical condition, we want access to visit him and find out how he is,” Mr Egal said. “If he gets better, we are happy to assist him and look after him and sponsor him while his case of refugee claim is processed. We don’t want him to go back to the same situation. “We are concerned at the risk for his life. We understand that’s why he’s in hospital now. We don’t want that to happen again.”

Haweya Ismail, a student at the University of Western Australia, said she had contacted the Immigration Department asking if Somalis could visit the boy to take Somali food and let him hear Somali being spoken, but was told that could not happen for privacy reasons. “We’re not looking for the exact details of what happened,” Ms Ismail said. “It’s more the case of a boy who has gone through a traumatic experience and we want to provide moral support and a friendly face. He’s a child and he needs support.” Saido Ifrah Abdullahi said the tight-knit community had experience with trauma. “We’ve all been through a harsh time, we’ve all experienced civil war, so for us to see a minor by himself with no parents we are really quite concerned,” she said.

But an Immigration Department spokeswoman said the focus needed to be on the boy’s health and wellbeing and it was far too early to respond to requests from the community or questions about the boy’s asylum claims.  Mr Newhouse, from Shine Lawyers, said an independent guardian would provide the checks and balances needed to ensure he was properly treated

.”The question about whether this child is being properly (cared for) needs to be answered.” – See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/suicide-bid-asylum-boy-access-denied/story-fn59niix-1226708627843?sv=816ba9b2085cd234bed1bcc828fcca59#.UjoyWZ2Q9vs.email