Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leaders in Mental Health Forum
Community based studies into Indigenous mental health indicate a prevalence of mental health issues two to three times greater than the corresponding general population rate. Further, there has been no national statistics gathered, or national forum to coordinate efforts to combat mental health issues amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia.
Cox Inall Ridgway was approached by the Mental Health Commission NSW to develop and implement an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leaders in Mental Health Forum. The forum was the first time community and government leaders came together to discuss collaboration and developing a strong and consistent voice advocating for significant improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health.
Two days were spent in a spirit of joint purpose to share experiences, learn from each other, create connections and explore opportunities for future partnerships and collaborations at national and international levels. People with lived experience of mental health issues and family members were present throughout the discussions, which enhanced the sharing of experiences and learning, and the identification of opportunities and partnerships.
As a result of the forum, The Sydney Declaration was drafted, committing participants to commit to adopt New Zealand’s Wharerata Declaration, with its vision of Healthy Indigenous individuals, families and communities. The Declaration underlined the participants’ shared and common commitment to advocating for, support and driving change. The commitment will be further served by continuing collaboration and partnership, and by creating opportunities for further dialogue and learning.