Gerry Georgatos, who heads up the federal government’s Indigenous critical response team, said: "Suicides are predominantly borne of poverty and disparities."
Writing in The Guardian, Georgatos described rural communities as being disparate from the rest of Australian society, where high incarceration rates infect communities, few complete schooling, employment is scant and “all hope is extinguished”.
He also said sexual abuse and self-harm played a role in suicides, with the recent spike taking the lives of young girls being “notable”.
A Senate inquiry in December found that mental health services in rural and remote areas were lacking and are often not culturally appropriate.
The West Australian Government has advised that coordinators have been installed in every region of the state, alongside Aboriginal mental health programs.
Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said the government, through the Department of Health, was also investing $84.75m over three years to improve access to culturally sensitive mental health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Scullion yesterday said every suicide was a tragedy and the effects on tight-knit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were profound.
“The government commissioned the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project which was led by indigenous leaders, professor Pat Dudgeon and Tom Calma, to develop community-led solutions,” he said.
“We are also committed to working with indigenous families to ensure their children are attending school and adults are in work which will support healthier communities.”