Commonwealth response to 'The hidden toll: suicide in Australia'

Appendix A: Senate inquiry into suicide in Australia

Page last updated: 2010

On 10 September 2009, the Senate referred an Inquiry into Suicide in Australia to the Community Affairs References Committee.

The Senate Committee Membership included:

  • Senator Siewert (Chair) – Australian Greens, Western Australia;
  • Senator Moore (Deputy Chair) – Australian Labor Party, Queensland;
  • Senator Adams – Liberal Party of Australia, Western Australia;
  • Senator Boyce – Liberal Party of Australia, Queensland;
  • Senator Carol Brown – Australian Labor Party, Tasmania; and
  • Senator the Hon. Helen Coonan – Liberal Party of Australia, New South Wales.
Participating Members for this Inquiry included:
  • Senator Furner – Australian Labor Party, Queensland;
  • Senator Humphries – Liberal Party of Australia, Australian Capital Territory;
  • Senator Bilyk – Australian Labor Party, Tasmania;
  • Senator Marshall – Australian Labor Party, Victoria;
  • Senator Wortley – Australian Labor Party, South Australia.
The terms of reference for the inquiry were:
  1. the personal, social and financial costs of suicide in Australia;

  2. the accuracy of suicide reporting in Australia, factors that may impede accurate identification and recording of possible suicides (and the consequences of any under-reporting on understanding risk factors and providing services to those at risk);

  3. the appropriate role and effectiveness of agencies, such as police, emergency departments, law enforcement and general health services in assisting people at risk of suicide;

  4. the effectiveness, to date, of public awareness programs and their relative success in providing information, encouraging help-seeking and enhancing public discussion of suicide;

  5. the efficacy of suicide prevention training and support for front-line health and community workers providing services to people at risk;

  6. the role of targeted programs and services that address the particular circumstances of high-risk groups;

  7. the adequacy of the current program of research into suicide and suicide prevention, and the manner in which findings are disseminated to practitioners and incorporated into government policy; and

  8. the effectiveness of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy in achieving its aims and objectives, and any barriers to its progress.
The Community Affairs References Committee received 258 submissions from individuals, government and non-government organisations.

Hearings for the Inquiry commenced in Canberra on 1 March 2010 and were also held in each State and Territory between March and May 2010.

On 24 June 2010, the Senate Community Affairs References Committee released its report The Hidden Toll: Suicide in Australia. The report made 42 recommendations which span the responsibilities and activities of the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, Non-Government organisations, communities and individuals.