Social emotional wellbeing is important for us all.  We all know the devastating impact that poor mental health, grief, trauma and particularly suicide has on our families and Communities. Intergenerational poor mental health, grief and trauma have its roots in colonisation that our Communities have experienced for over 200 years.

We know our Communities are at a greater risk of poorer mental health and disproportionately experience poor mental health outcomes due to systemic discrimination and barriers to accessing services. It is unacceptable that Aboriginal peoples in Victoria are three times more likely than non-Aboriginal people to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress. New research identifies Victoria as having the second highest rate of high to very high levels of psychological distress in 39% of young Aboriginal people (AIHW, 2018).

The Royal Commission into Mental Health provides an opportunity to collect perspectives and experiences regarding mental health experiences in our Communities, and create a better understanding of large scale changes that are urgently needed.

Below is a list of positive outcomes we hope for our Communities from the Royal Commission:

  • That all Aboriginal people in Victoria have the opportunity to thrive, enjoying optimal social and emotional wellbeing.
  • A tangible reduction in the rates of suicide, mental illness and psychological distress can be measured over time with government reporting to promote greater accountability for delivering better mental health outcomes.
  • Address the critical need for our Communities to heal from intergenerational trauma, loss and grief, with a greater focus on culture as an underlying  protective factor.
  • The support of a holistic Aboriginal definition of social and emotional wellbeing, and healing.
  • A sharper focus on efforts to reduce racism – recognising its significant effects on the mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in Victoria.  
  • Recognition of the existing evidence of the significant need to expand investment in mental health services, including our Aboriginal Community controlled organisations (ACCOs).
  • A substantial investment and re-investment in early intervention processes and programs that are in line with Community’s priorities and evidence based solutions.
  • A integrated mental health and social emotional wellbeing teams to be established and expanded in every ACCO.
  • ACCOs are provided with long-term, sustainable funding to provide trauma-informed healing services as part of their service models and core business.
  • That policies to prioritise government funding to ACCOS applies to all new mental health funding.
  • That Aboriginal children and young people have access to culturally safe, therapeutic family strengthening services and early intervention, and have priority access to mainstream mental health services.
  • The development of a Victorian Aboriginal mental health workforce strategy.
  • That current capacity and future workforce needs to accelerate culturally responsive and accountable mental health services, including GP services are identified.
  • That Community led solutions to suicide prevention be supported and resourced, and support the full implementation of self-determination.
  • The improvement and strengthening of mental health service access, referrals and integrated pathways between all parts of the mental health service system and related areas E.g. justice, family violence, education and alcohol and other drugs.
  • The need for mainstream services to be culturally responsive, including specialist mental health services, and the development of accountability mechanisms to ensure the culturally safe delivery of mental health outcomes.
  • Supporting greater research capacity and development to consolidate and expand the evidence based approaches proven to be effective for mental health outcomes for Communities.