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Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention

Kimberley Groves, Mark Moran and Josephine Bourne


There is evidence from Canada, that self-governing First Nation Canadian communities have fewer or no instances of youth suicide. Similarly, findings from a study of two Indigenous Australian communities experiencing very high suicide rates suggest that the process of taking back governance of their own affairs achieved positive impacts, including a reduction in suicides and increased community capacity to deal with associated social and cultural issues.

This article recognises that Indigenous organisations are important mechanisms of self-governance. They provide multiple points of engagement across sectors and levels of government. Indigenous Australian organisations and their contribution to Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention is the subject of this article.

Through an examination of key issues, policies, frameworks, and programs, this article provides a synthesis of relevant information on Indigenous self-governance in relation to mental health and suicide prevention. It explores the ways in which Indigenous organisations embody and/or enable processes, structures, institutions, and control associated with self-governance in ways that contribute to Indigenous well-being and suicide prevention.