The QAMH Board has ratified a formal Statement of Support for the First Nations Voice to Parliament. This Statement outlines the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in statistics relating to psychological distress and suicide. It also states QAMH’S concern about the ongoing need for culturally appropriate models of care for First Nations peoples.
The QAMH Statement of Support
The Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (QAMH) accepts the invitation of the Uluru Statement
from the Heart to walk with First Nations peoples in support of a First Nations Voice to Parliament
enshrined in the Australian Constitution.
We acknowledge that this land was never ceded, that it always was and always will be
We agree with the Statement from the Heart, that a Voice enshrined in the Constitution, will
empower First Nations peoples and allow them to take their “rightful place” in Australia.
QAMH has a deep respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures which, despite so
many adversities, have continued to be a source of strength for its people. We believe, as the
peak body representing the Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Sector in Queensland, that
non-Indigenous cultures and systems, including the mental health system, would be enriched if it
could learn lessons from this ancient and enduring culture.
We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are often over-represented in
mental health statistics. An estimated 31 per cent of First Nations peoples aged over 18 report
high or very high levels of psychological distress. The suicide rate in Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples is twice that of the non-Indigenous population, and suicide occurs at much
Concerningly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples report that they are often treated
poorly in mental health systems which are not delivering culturally appropriate models of
care. Historical and ongoing colonisation, including the forced removal of children, lack of
self-determination and structural racism contribute to this.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart outlines the structural nature of the crisis engulfing
First Nations peoples, as “the torment of our powerlessness”.
We believe enshrining a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Constitution will be a significant
step in alleviating that torment.
In 1967 First Nations peoples asked to be counted.
In 2023 they are asking to be heard.
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