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St John welcomes Indigenous mental health first aid program

St John Ambulance Australia welcomes the Commonwealth Government initiative to provide school attendance officers and jobseekers with specialised training in Indigenous mental health first aid.

‘St John Ambulance Australia supports any program that makes first aid a part of everybody’s life. Early intervention through first aid is essential if lives are to be saved. The more people we have trained in first aid and prepared to respond in our communities, the safer and more resilient our communities are,’ said Robert Hunt, CEO of St John Ambulance Australia.

ABS data suggests that adult Indigenous Australians are three times more likely to experience psychological distress than non-Indigenous people, and two times more likely to commit suicide.1 This is exacerbated for young Indigenous Australians. 1 St John believes that educating the community in mental health first aid, and within a culturally sensitive context, is both preventative and responsive.

‘Evidence suggests that when someone is trained in first aid, they are more confident and feel more prepared to respond when there is a need. St John believes that first aid training of members of the community, who are likely to come into contact with people experiencing psychological distress, including Indigenous Australians, is an important part of the solution for this very complex problem’, said Mr Hunt.

‘St John has long realised that first aid training is vital for both prevention and response. As a result, St John funds a significant national first aid training program for school students. Through our free First Aid in Schools program, we are aiming to have one person in every Australian household trained in first aid, said Professor Mark Compton, Chairman of the National Board of Directors of St John Ambulance Australia.

‘We also know that seeking medical aid in rural and remote locations is problematic for community members—first aid is often the only response while waiting for medical aid to arrive. First aid training makes individuals and communities more resilient.’

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St John is Australia’s largest provider of first aid training and services. For further information about St John Ambulance Australia contact 1300STJOHN or visit www.stjohn.org.au.

Media contact
Belinda Ding
National Policy Manager
St John Ambulance Australia
Phone: (w) 02 6239 9208, (m) 0420 499 163 (m)
Email: policy@stjohn.org.au.
Interviews available

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/3309.0~2010~Chapter~Aboriginal+and+Torres+Strait+Islander+suicide+deaths?OpenDocument