Towards Zero Suicides

An opportunity for substantial change

The Towards Zero Suicides initiatives provide a unique opportunity for the Collaborative, in partnership with the ISLHD and the PHN, to bring together a rich and diverse group of stakeholders to collaborate with the common purpose of designing more effective, efficient, and sustainable supports for people in suicidal crisis.

A local co-design process will determine the shape of three initiatives:

1) Zero suicides in care will support the re-design of current services to prevent suicides among people accessing public mental health services, whether they be within hospitals or in the community.

2) Alternatives to ED will provide a welcoming, non-clinical environment for people experiencing a suicidal crisis to connect with peer workers and find information about a range of other supports.

3) Suicide Prevention Outreach Teams providing assertive immediate and follow-up care for people in the community experiencing a suicidal crisis.

These new services will be funded by NSW Ministry of Health, but delivered locally by the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and non-government organisations.


How can you get involved?

Critically, these initiatives must be designed through a genuine collaboration between those who provide supports and those who use them. This is essential to making sure these new services meet the needs of our community, complement existing supports, and reach those who are struggling but not already connecting with local supports.

The Alternatives to ED was the first initiative to be co-designed, in May - June 2020 and the Suicide Prevention Outreach Teams (SP Outreach Teams) co-design started in August 2020.

If you would like to be involved or stay up to date with the SP Outreach Teams co-design, please click here to express interest.

Key dates

Assertive Suicide Prevention Outreach Teams  
Co-design process August 2020 - September 2020
Focus groups EOI close 5 August 2020
First online co-design session 11 August 2020, 3pm - 5pm
Safe Spaces co-design May 2020 - June 2020 (closed) 
Zero Suicides in Care TBC


Key documents / resources


What should I consider before deciding to participate?

Even with the best intentions, co-design processes don’t always live up to people’s expectations. This can happen for a range of reasons, including time pressure and a lack of resources. More importantly, when there isn’t a commitment by everyone involved to genuine co-design values and principles, not only are services not being improved, it can lead to increased cynicism about the possibility of change.

A person with lived experience who was involved in a recent local co-design project who had felt “shut down and ignored” by the health system in the past, felt further let down by having their expectations raised, then finding out the service model didn’t reflect the ideas generated through the designing phase. The same experience can be felt by health professionals who share their own experiences and ideas.

While there is a genuine commitment to co-design by the various decision-makers and managers in the local region, it is important for people to be aware of the potential challenges before deciding to participate. However, it is important to remember that there will be lots of opportunities for participants to provide feedback throughout the process, feedback loops are built in to check that our understanding of people’s input is right, and we commit to sharing what we know about the ‘hard boundaries’ of these initiatives as soon as we know them.

We will also be undertaking an evaluation of the co-design process itself, and strongly encourage participants to send feedback on how the process is going for you at any time to the Collaborative (click here to contact us).

How can I participate?

There are a number of options for how you can contribute including:

  • Online focus groups
  • Online webinars & surveys
  • Sharing output from the co-design with your networks; and
  • Staying informed via email.

Spaces for the online focus groups are limited. Participants will be chosen in a way that makes sure we are drawing together a diverse group of people to represent the Illawarra Shoalhaven from a lived experience and health professional perspective.

All contributions will be regarded equally – whether you contribute via a focus group, online webinars or surveys.

What will be expected of me?
  • Be fully informed and prepared to contribute – this includes accessing information on the Collaborative’s website:
    • Watching the Orientation webinar.
    • Reading the Ministry of Health’s Guidance documents.
    • Updates on co-design process and the draft service model being produced.
  • Make time to participate
  • Commitment to the values and principles of co-design, including a commitment to:
    • work towards solutions and actively contributing ideas about how to improve supports (instead of just criticising how things are now).
    • openness and curiosity and to respecting others as equal partners.
  • Be honest and open about your experiences and perspectives – but only as much as you feel comfortable doing.
  • Tell others about the project and its outcomes so that the whole community can be involved in supporting the new service and providing feedback in order to keep improving it.
  • Be able to let someone know if you need support (see ‘What supports are available’ for example support options).
  • Participate in the evaluation process, including completing online surveys for focus group participants.
  • Send feedback about the co-design process to the Collaborative as soon as possible so that it can be improved.
  • Have fun!
What supports are available?

We encourage all participants to reflect on what supports are available for you prior to getting involved so you can lean on them if you need to at any time during the co-design process. These supports could be natural supports, like friends and family, or support services.

If you are in need of additional support you can find a list of available support services on the 'Need Help' page (click here).

If you are having trouble with the process itself please contact the Collaborative (click here).

How can I provide feedback on the co-design process?

Evaluation of the co-design process will include participant surveys for online focus group / co-design session participants, as well as the option for all participants to provide feedback throughout.

We strongly encourage participants to send feedback on how the process is going for you at any time to the Collaborative (click here to Contact us).

Can I invite others to be involved?

Yes, absolutely. Please feel free to encourage your colleagues or friends or anyone who's interested in suicide prevention to get involved in the co-design process by signing up at The more people we have contributing to the shape of these new services, the more likely they are to meet people's needs.

Have the locations and number of Safe Spaces across the Local Health District (LHD) been identified yet?

The location and number of Safe Spaces will be informed by the co-design process and influenced by the amount of funding available. While this may mean we aren't able to establish Safe Spaces all across the Illawarra Shoalhaven, we should see this as an important step in improving the ways we support people. The onus is on all of us to do a really good job of these first Safe Spaces so that we can make a strong case for establishing more in future.

Are Safe Spaces going to be supporting all age cohorts?

The co-design process will inform who what ages are able to access the Safe Spaces.

Do you have an estimate time period of when Safe Spaces will be running as a service and when they will available in other LHDs?

We can't speak for the timelines of other LHDs, but the Safe Spaces in the Illawarra Shoalhaven will be commissioned from July, with the service to be up and running potentially from as early as October.

Are there any thoughts about the governance of the Safe Spaces?

A local Steering Group has been established to provide oversight for all the Towards Zero Suicides initiatives (Safe Spaces being one of these). This Steering Group consists of representatives from ISLHD, the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative, people with lived experience of suicide and recovery, the Ministry of Health, and Coordinare. While the Steering Group is focused on supporting the co-design and commissioning processes at the moment, they will likely morph into a governance group once the services are up and running.

Safe Spaces have been described as alternatives to the ED - is your hope to have no suicidal consumers going to the ED? OR do you recognise that the ED will still have a role in the care of suicidal consumers?

Emergency Departments will continue to play a really important role in supporting people in a suicidal crisis. That is why NSW Health have also invested in the Zero Suicides in Care initiative (another one of the Towards Zero Suicides initiatives) to ensure improved care is provided through public mental health, EDs and community mental health services.

In Feedback Loop 1 there was a lot of feedback on how ED is currently working, will this be used to improve EDs as well?

Yes. Where the co-design discussions touched on ways that emergency departments could be improved, we'll make sure those suggestions are fed into the Zero Suicides in Care work that is happening in parrallel to the Safe Spaces co-design.

Could you provide an overview of the model that you are looking at the deliver assertive outreach?

The Assertive Suicide Prevention Outreach Teams service will be co-designed from July. We won't know the shape of that service until it has gone through the co-design process. We'll keep everyone in the loop as to when that co-design process begins.