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Developing a Suicide Prevention Approach in Perth: How Complex Systems Theory is Enabling Effective Collaboration

By August 20, 2018 No Comments

Ninka James from Neami National discusses the unique approach being used at the Perth Metropolitan Suicide Prevention Coordinator (SPC) Program.

  1. How did you first become involved in your field?
    After working in the tobacco control, nutrition and physical activity fields, I commenced a role in mental health. Mental health is a fascinating field to work in that challenges me daily!
  2. If people could know one point about your work what would you like them to know? My presentation is about developing a suicide prevention approach and how complex system theory is enabling effective collaboration. It’s about complex systems theory but it’s easy to understand. This work is very translatable.
  3. What’s one thing not many people know about you? I was named after a horse!
  4.  Why are you looking forward to coming to Adelaide? To learn from others and share the details and insights from my project. And have a little break from my kids – although I know I will miss them terribly as soon as I step on the plane!
  5. Where can people find out more about your work?    
  •  Neami website – www.neaminational.org.au.
  • TheMHS Conference 2018 – S56: PAPERS: Suicide Prevention, Riverbank Room 5 – Lower Level 1 – Thursday, August 30, 2018, 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM

Ninka’s Abstract for TheMHS Conference 2018

Working with community is at the heart of work in suicide prevention. Since 2016, the Western Australian Mental Health Commission has funded Suicide Prevention Coordinators to address the needs of local communities. Working in suicide prevention with intricate, overlapping communities across a large population requires us to think differently about the construct of ‘community’, to draw on evidence-based and evidence-informed approaches and frameworks while also listening for and harnessing local expertise.

This presentation details the methodology utilised by the Perth Metropolitan Suicide Prevention Coordinator (SPC) Program. It builds on current research and developments by demonstrating how these can be implemented in an urban setting at a grass roots level. It uses the method of Complex Systems Theory that demands we avoid simplistic solutions, and instead look for the complexity, and creatively and collaboratively address inevitable barriers. We have operationalised a framework that acknowledges and values all current stakeholders and their contexts, increasing the level of coordination and collaboration that is possible. Efforts to develop this shared understanding are now paying off in strong collaborations with 34 stakeholder organisations, new partnerships and direct positive action. Some examples of these will be shared.

About Ninka James

Ninka is a Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the Perth metropolitan area. She has a health promotion degree combined with experience across local government, state government and not for profit sectors. She works to build the capacity of the community and service providers to better identify and address local suicide-related issues.