2022 LiFE Award winners were:

Outstanding Contribution LiFE Award was awarded to Jonathan Bedloe

Through Jonathan’s leadership roles with Men’s Resources TAS, the AUST Men’s Health Forum and now as a trainer, Jonathan has been a change agent for creating a healthier public awareness of men’s mental health. Jonathan has inspired and led many men in the community to take up the cause of advocating for a healthier masculine culture especially around mental health.

Jonathan’s key roles:

  • Formed and convened Men’s Services Network Tasmania until its incorporation as Men’s Resources Tasmania.
  • Founding member of the Tasmanian Men’s Shed Association.
  • Board member with TasMen.
  • Involvement in Working Group to inform Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Trial sites and advocated for a male focus.
  • Delivered SuicideTalk sessions to 30 groups through Neighbourhood Houses in 2015-17
  • Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training facilitator since 2015 (delivered 30 workshops).
  • Hosted the 2021 24/7 Vigil for male suicide on parliament house lawns.
  • Board member, including former President, of Australian Men’s Health Forum (including advocating at a federal level for action on male suicide prevention).

Communities in Action for Suicide Prevention LiFE Award was awarded to joint winners, Brighton Alive, and to PFLAG Cygnet Community Hub community

The Brighton Alive Network is a collaboration between the Brighton Council and the community, with the goal to build a strong and healthy future for Brighton, Tasmania. In recognising the increasing suicidal behaviours occurring in the area, a Brighton Suicide Prevention Community Action Plan was created in late 2019. This plan focused on the needs, skills and support shortages that were identified through community consultation. The consultation highlighted the need to increase accessibility to service providers, increase mental health and suicide prevention training in the community, and increase engagement with youth and LGTBQI+ community members.

The plan has seen improvements in the key areas identified, with more training now being offered, advertised and fundraised for, more rooms and spaces being offered to service providers to practice from, and the creation of the Pride event “Under One Rainbow” which collaborated with the Colour Run initiative, and saw over 100 people attend, and an overwhelming number of expressions of interest coming in to enter the next Under the Rainbow event.

The Cygnet Community Hub is a grassroots, community led, volunteer run initiative which arose as a response to the increasing number of suicides in the area. Community consultations enabled a public dialogue around suicide prevention and the highlighted the need for a central community spot. The Hub is a drop-in centre for the rapidly growing wider Cygnet Community, with an open-door policy for anyone who needs to talk. The Hub focusses on health promotion, social connection and inclusion, and service referral. Trained volunteers are always available to help those in the community in crisis, then referring them to appropriate services, while mentors are also available to help people connect with their local community to help combat social isolation.

The Hub run a variety of events focused on mental health and suicide prevention, such as holding regular markets which they use as a platform to promote mental wellbeing, and running a community garden. The Hub also runs a community pantry, offers transport assistance and teaches older community members how to use the internet.

Best Practice in Suicide Prevention in a Workplace LiFE Award was awarded to North Hobart Football Club

In 2020 the board of North Hobart Football Club endorsed a club-wide Wellbeing Action Plan with the overarching goals of the plan to ensure all players, coaches, staff and volunteers are respectful, engaged, happy and motivated, and to ensure NHFC has best practice club welfare policies, procedures and practices.

Key actions of the plan include:

  • Board adoption of an over-arching Wellbeing Policy.
  • Creation of a ‘Wellbeing Director’ board position.
  • Creation of a ‘Wellbeing Officer’ role for both men’s and women’s programs. Both positions are now filled.
  • Providing all players, staff and volunteers with access to mental health information and training opportunities via fortnightly wellbeing updates.
  • Development of a partnership with Relationships Australia Tasmania to provide all players, staff and volunteers with access to free and confidential counselling support (the Wellbeing Support Service). This service has been, and continues to be, used.
  • Development of a suicide prevention Community Action Plan.
  • Promotion of NHFC as a safe, diverse and inclusive community.

Outstanding Contribution to Suicide Prevention by a Young Person LiFE Award was awarded to joint winners, Ben Dudman, and Laura Johnson

Ben is an advocate for mental health awareness, especially for the LGBTQIA+ community, and works to highlight policy flaws and advocate for improved measures for mental health safety. Ben has worked extensively with the Australian Labor Party in advocating for mental health in regional Tasmania, with recommendations becoming party policy.

Ben has used his personal experiences as a gay student in the Catholic education system to educate others about problems within the education system’s inclusivity approach and the need for a more accepting ethos to prevent the high rate of youth suicide currently faced in Australia, especially by those within the LGBTQIA+ community. Ben launched a petition advocating for better inclusivity training and respect for teaching staff in the education system. In 2020, Ben launched a petition and called on the Tasmanian Government to provide better training and implement policies to protect transgender prisoners in Tasmania’s correctional system. Through presenting the petition to the media, public and Tasmanian Parliament, Ben and his team have added volume to the LGTBQI+ voice in the Tasmanian Prison System.

Since the age of 14, Laura Johnson has used her voice of lived experience with mental health and suicidality to discourage the stigma of crisis, medication and inpatient support for those battling with their mental health – especially through COVID-19. Laura recognised the very limited mental health help available in her rural town, and became determined to create change. Laura created a petition in December 2020 for the Government to increase and improve mental health support, facilities, and education for young people in Tasmania – particularly for rural communities.

Laura created THEIRS (Talk, Hear and Help, Educate, Inform, Refer, and Support), which is a mental health themed event directed at increasing awareness and reducing stigma, as well as connecting communities with service providers and mental health experts. The event was well attended and received overwhelmingly positive feedback, and it is hoped that THEIRS will become an annual event, with the next one already being booked out. Laura is continuing her own training in suicide prevention and mental health through a social work degree.

Innovative Practice and Research LiFE Award was awarded to Lifeline

In collaboration with the University of Tasmania Centre for Rural Health, Lifeline commissioned research into the Suicide Bereavement support needs in Northern Tasmanian communities. The study highlighted the gap in support services for people bereaved by suicide.

Recommendations from the research included:

  1. Explore the potential for one-to-one peer support models suited to the regional context.
  2. Increase awareness and referral pathways for specific suicide bereavement counselling support.
  3. Further investigate the patterns of information sharing regarding bereavement supports to bereaved families by first responders, and explore a systematic response.
  4. Examine the outcomes of the Northeast Coast Community Suicide Response Committee Model.
  5. Embed suicide postvention training within existing suicide prevention training programs.
  6. Consider development and provision of free on-line training in suicide postvention for communities and health professionals.
  7. Inclusion of suicide postvention education offered through TAFE/tertiary institutions for health professional training.

The extension of further understanding effective suicide postvention strategies allows continued efforts and contributions to the promotion of life and prevention of suicide within rural/regional centres.