What are we working on?



Since 2016, the Collaborative has been implementing the LifeSpan approach across the Illawarra Shoalhaven, as one of four trial site regions in NSW. LifeSpan is a new, evidence-based, integrated approach to suicide prevention that combines nine strategies that have strong evidence for suicide prevention into one community-led approach.

LifeSpan has formed the basis of our work over the past two years and we’d like to say a massive thank you to the Black Dog Institute for supporting us.

Moving forward, whilst we will continue to implement the LifeSpan framework, we have also started working on other areas recognised as priorities for our members, such as non-clinical supports and postvention.

Find out more about what we are working on below.


What the Collaborative has achieved so far

Since its launch five years ago, the Collaborative has implemented a wide range of innovative and locally produced programs and services across the Illawarra Shoalhaven region.

In the early stages, the Collaborative was a trial site for the LifeSpan framework: an evidence-based, integrated approach to suicide prevention developed by the Black Dog Institute. As a LifeSpan trial site, the aim was to build a safety net for the Illawarra Shoalhaven community by connecting and coordinating new and existing programs in the region, and involving people with lived experience of suicide.

The integration of LifeSpan into the Collaborative’s ethos resulted in one of the most comprehensive regional suicide prevention efforts ever undertaken in Australia. The Collaborative has successfully developed and delivered a range of suicide prevention initiatives to connect local people with the right support, such as the following projects:

  • Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training  We continue to facilitate and promote Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) suicide prevention training across the region. In 2018, the Collaborative partnered with the Illawarra Mercury newspaper to run #care2qpr, an award-winning media campaign that resulted in almost 3,000 people signing up for the training.
  • Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) training  We continue to support the rollout of Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) across local schools. YAM is a school-based program that teaches young people how to look after themselves and their school mates. In 2019, the training was delivered to more than 6,900 students in Year 9. The Collaborative worked closely on all aspects of the program’s implementation, from preparing resources and recruiting schools, to coordinating YAM instructors.
  • Safe Spaces  Our lived experience members continue to be involved in the development of Safe Spaces: drop-in spaces staffed by peer workers with their own lived experience of crisis and recovery. These spaces aim to provide a genuine alternative to emergency departments for people in suicidal distress.
  • 'Where to go for support' resource – In 2019, we developed a ‘Where to go for support’ resource that highlights local support services. More than 23,000 resources have now been distributed by local organisations and community groups.
  • NextSteps – In 2017, we contributed to the development of new services that improve support for people impacted by suicide. This includes the local NextSteps program, an aftercare program for people who have presented to an emergency department for a suicidal crisis. The program supports a person's transition from hospital-based care to the community.

What we're working on

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Towards Zero Suicides initiatives

The Collaborative is working with the ISLHD & the PHN to implement three of the Towards Zero Suicides initiatives:

  1. Zero suicides in care
  2. Safe Spaces
  3. Assertive Suicide Prevention Outreach Teams

Local co-design will determine the shape of these initiatives. Click here to find out more & express interest in getting involved.

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Engaging the community

We're working to change the culture of avoiding conversations about suicide through community campaigns.

Illawarra Hawks

Training the community

Everyone is in a position to help those around them when they know what to do. We're actively promoting training that helps build the skills to help someone in crisis. We’re working with local organisations and individuals to train as many people as we can.

Where to get help

Know where to go for support

It’s so important to know where to get help when we, or someone we know, need it most.

We are working on videos and resources to help spread the word that help is available locally.

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Working in schools

Schools are an important place for promoting mental health, resilience and help-seeking among young people.

Over the last two years, we have been rolling out the Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) program with Year 9 students across the region.

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Supporting people after crisis

To prevent suicide deaths, we must ensure people who attempt suicide receive support as soon as possible.

Collaborative members Grand Pacific Health, Flourish Australia, South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation, and the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, are working together to support people during the transition from hospital to the community, via the Next Steps Aftercare Service.


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Evidence-based treatment

Access to excellent mental health treatment represents an important strategy for suicide prevention. We are working to support clinicians to provide evidence-based care.

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Equipping primary care

Many people experiencing suicidality visit their doctor in the weeks or days before suicide. Equipping general practices with the skills and resources to identify and support people in distress is one of the most promising interventions for reducing suicide.

Collaborative member, COORDINARE, is helping GPs undertake universal screening so they can identify people who may not have asked for help otherwise.

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Setting up Safe Spaces

Safe Space is an umbrella term referring to non-clinical, peer-led supports for people in suicidal crisis. We're working to set up a mix of Safe Space supports for our region including peer support groups, a warm line, drop-in spaces and peer respites.

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Those who are bereaved by suicide are at higher risk of suicide themselves. Improving supports available for people and communities affected by a suicide death is a big priority for the Collaborative.

Our postvention for families and schools working groups are both working on this. 


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Aboriginal suicide prevention

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) has released recommendations and resources we are using to help guide local suicide prevention activities.