Mental Issues In WA’s Aboriginal Communities Described As Human Rights Crisis

In what has been described as a human rights crisis, more and more unforeseeable deaths are occurring in WA’s aboriginal community.

Leaders claimed a lack of government attention and appropriate resources are causing many young aboriginal people across WA are tragically taking their own lives.

“One death is one too many… and we’ve had over 20 in a year,” Mr Eades said.

Mervyn Eades, Aboriginal spokesperson, explained Western Australia’s aboriginal suicide rate is three times higher than any other aboriginal community in the country.

Contributing factors include drug addiction, poverty, lack of self esteem and purpose, and lack of opportunities available.

The youngest of those 20 deaths this year was a 14 year old girl, and focuses predominately on the young, ranging from 14 -30 years.

“It’s just too many people in one year,” Mr Eades said.

Specialist services for mental health, and alcohol and other drug addictions are greatly needed for these communities, but the government is failing to recognise the need and put forward the funding required.

“We’ve got a crisis here… we’ve got huge numbers of people that are taking their lives that are in crisis, and are requiring those services,”

Greens MP Alison Xamon said it’s a significant issue on which the federal government needs to step up, instead of putting a dollar value on someone’s life.

“What price is a life to them? What price is 20 lives within a year, the spend should be massive,” said Mr Eades.

“One of the concerns is that the plans have been put in place and have called for specialist services, but haven’t seen the investment… “

“Now the government keeps talking about budgetary crisis, and I’’m responding with human rights crisis,” stated Ms Xamon.

She also commented that with WA as large as it is, it’s particularly challenging to provide appropriate and culturally secure services for aboriginal people.

When asked if the government needs to cater more to aboriginal communities, Mr Eades said they need to come and talk to the Noongar people and start addressing some of the big issues, with addiction being the biggest.

“It has rifed through our communities and it is destroying the lives of many of our young and older people…”

“We can’t get a grip on it because we have no form of rehabilitation for our people,” he explained.

Despite $1 million dollars in funding for the Aboriginal Health Council of WA, many community groups are concerned if adequate resources are not provided soon, more lives will be at risk.

Mr Eades said the Government’s spending on Noongar people is very limited.

“The rate is increasing, we’re averaging two deaths a month… it’s not going to go away, we can’t wait any longer…” he stated.


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