Oxfam emergency funds to assist Narrogin suicide crisis have now run out

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 02 Feb 2009

Emergency funding provided by international aid agency Oxfam for health services to halt the Narrogin suicide crisis ran out on Saturday.
Oxfam Executive Director Andrew Hewett called on the West Australian Government to take action and provide funding for the services.
Oxfam, which works in 26 countries around the world, took the unusual step of providing essential services here in Australia in July last year when it stepped in to fill the dangerous void and fund Aboriginal psychologist Darrell Henry and two Aboriginal support counselors.
Narrogin, two hours south-east of Perth, with a population of just over 4200, had seen eight suicides and four attempted suicides by men aged between 20 and 31 over the nine months leading up to the last major community meeting in October. Six of the men who died were Aboriginal, as were all of the men who attempted suicide. Since October, there have been one to two attempted suicides or threats of suicide every week.
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said that as an international development agency, Oxfam Australia did not usually provide essential services in this country.
“In this instance, we felt we had an overriding responsibility to support the community’s request for assistance,” Mr Hewett said.
“It’s clear that the solution requires both an immediate emergency response but also long-term, sustained programs to support the community in addressing the deep traumas being experienced in the town.”
WA Health Minister Dr Kim Hames and Mental Health Minister Dr Graham Jacobs are meeting with the Aboriginal community in Narrogin this Wednesday at 11.15am. The community is hoping the Minister will announce funding for an integrated response to the Narrogin suicide crisis.
Mr Hewett welcomed the funding provided by the Barnett Government for a project officer to research a proposal on a solution to the health issues in the town but he said that the government also needed to fund the same services previously funded by Oxfam.
The Narrogin Aboriginal community and WA Country Health Service have presented a proposal to the Minister for Health, recommending full funding for an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health and Wellbeing model that provides much needed support to individuals, families and community groups.
For interviews please contact Laurelle Keough at Oxfam Australia on 0409 960 100, laurellek@oxfam.org.au