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First Peoples

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This resource contains information about suicide which may be upsetting to some people.


Summative evaluation of the national Indigenous critical response service: final report

Crisis response Trauma First Peoples mental health Suicide First Peoples health Australia

Since its establishment in 2017 and up to June 2019, the National Indigenous Critical Response Service (NICRS) provided postvention support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities in response to 367 incidents (suicides or other traumatic events) in WA, NT, Queensland, SA, NSW and Victoria.

The summative evaluation of the first three years (2017-2020) of development and implementation of the National Indigenous Crisis Response Service (NICRS) has found that the service is providing valuable postvention support to individuals and families (clients) who have recently experienced a suicide or other traumatic incident in their close family network. The evaluation found that there is support for the service, however all stakeholder groups agreed that there was scope for improvement in the way the NICRS is managed and delivered.

Key Findings/Recommendations:

  • The evaluation confirmed postvention services were viewed as essential for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide support post suicide and trauma confirming the relevance of the NICRS. For many clients interviewed for the evaluation, the NICRS service was reported to be highly valued, particularly due to the practical support offered, such as the provision of Emergency Relief Fund (ERF) funds, which could help to alleviate short-term stress during a period of grief, confusion and instability.
  • The evaluation found that the NICRS could be improved by including of stronger and more explicit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and social and emotional wellbeing improvement practices built in service delivery patterns to provide leadership and modelling for best practice in the mental health sector more broadly.
  • Many service providers and community representatives were not supportive of the ‘fly in, fly out’ service model for a region and strongly believed there was a need for a stronger emphasis on a ‘place-based’ approach - to ensure that the service is well connected with local services and networks and has a good understanding of the context and needs of the local community.
  • Rollout of the NICRS was not achieved to all states and territories (nor coverage of all priority areas within jurisdictions) within the initial three years as anticipated. This appears to have been an overly ambitious target which did not account for the intensity of effort that is required to achieve effective engagement in many communities.
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