By Laurence Manning
President, Grapevine Group Mackay

Green shoots. We have heard a lot about these of late, with some promising signs of recovery throughout our region.

For Grapevine Group, the year ahead also looks promising.

During the past couple of years in the Mackay region we have seen some breakdown of the stigma and the taboos around suicide and mental health and, increasingly, the issue is being spoken about and brought out into the open.

The result is a movement in our region which is gaining momentum and the people of this region have something to say about suicide prevention and awareness.

Our job is to underpin this movement with recognized programs, trained facilitators and research which delivers to us accurate, timely data and information about what’s working, what’s not and where there are gaps.

In building awareness and education, we are researching more programs for young people and exploring other resources and programs available.

We have seen the SafeTALK program delivered to staff and students at a Mackay school and to teaching and other staff at a number of other schools, with expressions of interest to expand the program in 2017. We plan to continue our campaign to Get SafeTALK into Schools – and to as many high school students as possible.

We have also partnered with CQUniversity Mackay to deliver SafeTALK to their faculty staff and students, and in 2017 we plan to ensure that effective suicide prevention training is delivered to as many of the student group who may take up the offer, given this is usually an over-represented group in statistical data on suicide.

As part of the Mackay Cutters’ #Change the Game campaign the Grapevine Group will continue our support of Mackay Regional Suicide Prevention Network in their suicide prevention training program for the players, coaches, management and staff of the Cutters and throughout the local rugby league competition in 2017.

At the same time, we will be gathering community and program-based data and forging partnerships with key suicide prevention and mental health and wellbeing organisations throughout the country. This will see us start to build a comprehensive suicide prevention program for the Mackay region – one that can be a model for other regions throughout the country.

In 2017, Grapevine Group will be working closely with community, government and educational bodies to develop national best-practice models for suicide prevention. It’s not a small goal – but it’s one we are committed to along with our key partners, Run For MI Life, Lifeline and the Mackay Regional Suicide Prevention Network.

Happy New Year, from Grapevine Group. It’s looking like a big year ahead! Let’s make it a good one.