Alternatives to Suicide in Australia

In November 2015, Joe Calleja attended an Alternatives to Suicide workshop at the World Hearing Voices Congress in Madrid and saw how the non-clinical peer to peer support approach met a need in suicide intervention.  He worked with MercyCare in Western Australia to bring the trainers from the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community USA  (now called Wildflower Alliance) to Perth in 2017 to showcase the approach. A further trip was funded by MercyCare to train facilitators in Perth in 2018, which included training a group in Melbourne with participants from Sydney.

Groups have been running in WA since May 2018 and Sydney, NSW since September 2018. MercyCare had become involved because it was consistent with its mission of breaking cycles of disadvantage. However, as it did not provide suicide intervention programs, it was keen to see the approach managed longer term through another agency. ConnectGroups took a proposal to Lotterywest and has been funded to introduce the approach in Western Australia. ConnectGroups WA have collaborated with organisations in NSW, Queensland, and South Australia to make an online Alternatives to Suicide Train the Trainer available to experienced group facilitators in each of these states, and support the growth of the Alternatives to Suicide approach in Australia.

inside out and Off The Wall have been committed to seeing the Alternatives to Suicide approach grow in NSW, through an Alternatives to Suicide Forum held in Sydney in March 2018 (also supported by Being) and ongoing work expanding the approach thanks to funding from the NSW Ministry of Health. Off The Wall was instrumental in establishing the first Alternatives to Suicide group in NSW, originally held in Marrickville, and then moving online in 2020. We look forward to seeing the approach continue to grow in Australia.