The last two meetings in Brisbane

*Emotional trigger warning – content involves suicide*

12th May 2019

What a busy few days I have had here in Australia!

I’ve moved from Brisbane to Sydney to continue my research into Suicide Prevention, as a privileged fellow of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. The findings and learning to date have been fascinating, with so much we can translate into work in this field in the UK.

On 8th May, I had the fabulous opportunity to meet with two more wonderful organisations that are doing amazing things for suicide prevention and postvention.

The first was Standby, a postvention service offering support after suicide, helping those who’ve been impacted by suicide in any way, regardless of whether the suicide occurred today or at any time in the past. I met Monique Broadbent, Co-Ordinator for Brisbane, and Kelly Playford-Veel, Brisbane South Team Leader, both from the Nundah branch.

This is what Monique had to say about Standby,

“When people have been impacted, that may be because they were family or friends with the person who died. Or, it could just be that they heard about a suicide and felt impacted for their own reasons. Or, they could have witnessed a stranger’s suicide, or found a body. They might also be first responders, so police, ambulance, whoever. Standby goes out to whoever needs support, working with community members and professionals alike.

 We provide short-term support, so we might go out to see large or small groups, for example, in a school,  football club or workplace. Then, following this initial short-term support, we can refer people to ongoing support.

 Unfortunately, Standby are unable to offer long-term, ongoing support. What we offer may look like bereavement and grief support, or it may be more trauma focus, depending on the circumstances and the person’s relationship to the deceased. But Standby’s big focus is on holistic care, linking people with ongoing services, precisely because we only provide short-term support but also because suicide is so very complex. It’s never just grief that people are going through.”

(L-R) Kelly Playford-Veel – Brisbane South Team Leader, Naomi Watkins – CEO NWCH, Monique Broadbent – Co-Ordinator for Brisbane

Standby is doing some amazing work in local communities, truly supporting anyone impacted by suicide, from crisis intervention point and beyond. It’s a postvention service, but that in itself makes it prevention too. As we know, people are at greater risk of suicide if they have lost someone to suicide. Acknowledging this fact, Standby does amazing work with children who have lost parents, siblings and peers to suicide too.

My second meeting today was with YourTown where I met John Dalgleish, Head of Strategy & Research, and Laura Clarke, Advocacy and Policy Lead. I was also fortunate to meet CEO, Tracy Adams, along with counsellors, supervisors and YourTown volunteers.

YourTown helps to create brighter futures for young people and families. It is a values based, national, Not for Profit organisation. They believe every young person has the right to a brighter future and aim to be part of the solution by delivering services that get results. Their services include Kids Helpline, training and employment for young people, parent education, and specialist accommodation for families. They are one of the largest not-for-profit service providers for young people in Australia with sites across Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania. I met with the Milton branch.

My time with YourTown began with me doing a 40 minute presentation on Domestic Abuse in the UK, which I delivered as a ‘lunchbox session’ – in other words during their lunch break. Over 30 people attended and I was live streamed to their other bases across Australia! There were so many questions and people queued to talk with me afterwards, which was really heart-warming. Domestic Abuse prevention is another of my passions, so it was great to be so well received by an enthusiastic audience.

I then met with the Head of Service for KidsLine. KidsLine was inspired by ChildLine UK, where I used to work for 8 years! They also run ParentLine. It was so interesting for me to hear that they are doing a fantastic job, answering calls to young people and parents 7 days a week!

Lastly, I held a focus group with 12 members of staff to discuss suicide prevention, domestic abuse, support services and so much more.

(L-R) Volunteer counsellor, Laura Clarke – Advocacy and Policy Lead, John Dalgleish – Head of Strategy & Research, Naomi Watkins – CEO NWCH, Volunteer Counsellor, Supervisors of KidLine & ParentLine

I was absolutely shattered when I arrived back at my apartment! Reflecting on the day, I felt in awe of the work these two organisations are doing and I’m inspired and committed to make big changes in Lincolnshire, and beyond, on my return!

The next day, I flew from Brisbane to Sydney and have been settling-in and sight-seeing before the next three weeks of meetings, starting on Monday 13th May. This experience is truly uplifting, an opportunity of a lifetime, and I feel so grateful to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust for selecting me to be a Churchill Fellow.

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