Aussie gov't urged to address indigenous youth suicide crisis

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-12 10:59:28|Editor: WX
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CANBERRA, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- Australia's indigenous health minister has urged the nation's parliament to address youth suicide crisis.

Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous Australian to serve as a government minister, said that many Australians wrongly accepted indigenous youth suicide as "normal."

Five Aboriginal girls aged between 12 and 15 took their own lives in the first two weeks of 2019 alone in unrelated incidents in Western Australia (WA), South Australia (SA) and Queensland.

Earlier in February, WA Coroner Ros Fogliani released a report on 13 Aboriginal youth suicides in the state's Kimberley region between 2012 and 2016, warning that governments had to listen to what locals were saying about trauma, substance abuse, domestic violence and sexual abuse.

"The sad thing in life is that as a federal member, I will receive emails about Nauru, I will receive them about the live sheep trade, I will receive them about animal cruelty," Wyatt told Macquarie Media radio on Monday night.

"I have yet to receive a single email about the suicides in ­Aboriginal communities in WA. And I doubt that my colleagues would have got them as well."

Australia's politics has become occupied with the debate over medical transfers of asylum seekers being held in offshore detention on Nauru, but Wyatt said parliament could address both refugees and indigenous suicide in the first sitting week of the year, which began on Tuesday.

The Kimberley's suicide rate between 2012 and 2016 was 42.8 per 100,000 people, the highest rate of any region in Australia.

Fogliani's report, which was tabled on Thursday, found that "considerable services already being provided to the region are not enough."

"The situation in the Kimberley Region is dire and children and young persons have continued to die by suicide," she wrote.