Developing a local response to suicide prevention in Kiama and Gerringong

Following the recent Council resolution regarding the health and wellbeing of the Kiama community, the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative has been working with Council to form a local working group. It is comprised of local community members and organisations within Kiama and will focus on coordinating suicide prevention efforts within the local community.

An initial working group meeting was held on 1 September 2020. Those present included representatives from Kiama High School, Gezza Cares, Makuta Masks, headspace, Kiama Lions Club, Kiama Rotary Club, the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, Lifeline and Council.

Each group was able to outline and share activities they are undertaking, or planning to undertake, in order to respond to current community issues and concerns. Kiama High School was able to advise of webinars that are being offered to parents in partnership with headspace, as well as increased support for students and for staff during this difficult time. ‘Gezza Cares’ spoke of its work coordinating community responses in Gerringong and in promoting Question Persuade Refer (QPR) training. Council and the Local Health District are working together to facilitate community skills training, information and support at Kiama Markets, and a community mural.

The local working group will meet regularly and build on the collective experience of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative, a group of 40 organisations and community groups working together to reduce suicide deaths and attempts in the Illawarra Shoalhaven region over the past five years.

With an emphasis on incorporating the voices of people with lived experience of suicide and recovery, we aim to:

  • improve the supports available to people at risk of suicide as well as improving people’s experience of those supports
  • encourage systems change through collaboration
  • ensure that suicide prevention efforts are effective.
Claim your free QPR license!                                                                                      

Many people in our community have already undertaken QPR or ‘Question, Persuade, Refer’ training. Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) is a practical and evidence-based, one-hour online suicide prevention training course. It is recommended for interested community members aged over 18 years old. QPR stands for the three simple steps anyone can learn to detect warning signs of suicide crisis, ask about suicide, and refer to available help.

The Collaborative is currently offering FREE QPR licenses to residents of the Illawarra and Shoalhaven region.

Click here to claim your free license!

'Chats for Change' and 'Out of the Shadows' on 10 September

A number of local people are partnering with clinical staff from the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District to facilitate ‘Chats for change’ across Kiama, Gerringong and Jamberoo. The first ‘Chats for Change’ will occur on R U OK? Day on 10 September 2020 in Kiama at the Joyce Wheatley Community Centre. People are welcome to come in for a chat between 9:30am and 2:30pm and between 3:30pm and 6:30pm.

These chats will also be available at the Kiama Farmers Market each Wednesday in September. These teams are available to attend workplaces and sporting clubs on request.

World Suicide Prevention also cooincides with R U OK? Day, and Lifeline South Coast is organising the ‘Out Of The Shadows’ suicide prevention walk and a virtual garden. More information can be found at

If you or someone you know needs support now, please call Lifeline 24/7 on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or MensLine on 1300 789 978.

A version of this article appeared in the Kiama Bugle.