Josie FarrerMember for Kimberley

Working Hard For The Kimberley Getting Things Done

‘Baton of Life’ an unprecedented step in suicide prevention

Wednesday 23 Oct 2013

Member for Kimberley Josie Farrer today presented to Parliament the 'Baton of Life' to symbolise her ongoing commitment to suicide prevention in the Kimberley.

The baton was symbolically handed to Ms Farrer by nine Beagle Bay families who have lost loved ones to suicide. The families requested Ms Farrer take the baton to Parliament House.

Ms Farrer said it was crucial the State Government invested in more resources and programs, particularly in remote communities, to prevent suicide.

"The baton was carved from a special medicine tree by a Walmajarri elder," Ms Farrer said.

"Western Australian Aboriginal communities have the highest suicide rates in the world. Mowanjum and Derby have the highest Aboriginal youth suicide rates in Australia - a sickening statistic that requires urgent attention by Barnett Government."

The 'Hear Our Voices' report into the high rates of suicide in the Kimberley, published in 2012, found that:

  • From 2004 to 2008, the Aboriginal suicide rate was 31 per 100,000 population;
  • In 2008, there were 103 Indigenous suicide deaths nationally, with 29 of these occurring in WA; and
  • Between October 2010 and September 2011 there were 36 Aboriginal suicides in the Kimberley.

"Suicide affects every single community in the Kimberley and much more needs to be done when it comes to suicide prevention," Ms Farrer said.

Ms Farrer was presented with the baton on September 17 at the 'March for Life' community event hosted by the Beagle Bay community to advocate for proactive approaches to suicide prevention.

Presenting the petition in Parliament today, Ms Farrer also performed a first in Western Australia by also presenting the baton in the chamber.