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New survey highlights impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health conditions

New survey highlights impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health conditions

The National Mental Health Commission welcomes today’s release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014-2015 (NATSISS).

This survey provides a range of information about the lives and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including for the first time those with self-reported mental health conditions.

Professor Pat Dudgeon, National Mental Health Commissioner and Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health (NATSILMH), said:

“The survey provides further evidence of the greater support needs of Indigenous people living with mental health conditions, and their need for better access to mental health and support services. In particular, it highlights the need for integrated services that can work with both physical and mental health issues, and connect them to smoking and drug use reduction programs, as well as break down isolation, and provide support with education, employment and housing.

"The survey has implications for the Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and a recovery-oriented, consumer centred mental health system as it relates to Indigenous people. There is also implications for the National Disability Insurance Scheme as it works to support Indigenous people with a psychosocial disability. All these need to take into account the greater needs of Indigenous people with mental health conditions as they work in our communities.”

Professor Dudgeon continued: “At the national level, and as the National Mental Health Commission recommended in its 2014 National Review Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities, dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health planning is required to meet these additional needs as well as to ensure a consumer focused mental health system that works effectively with cultural differences.

“We also need Indigenous mental health leadership at regional and state levels. The Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration was developed by NATSILMH to provide a framework for Indigenous leadership in mental health and suicide prevention, and could be used to guide these efforts.”

In closing, Professor Dudgeon noted that while further analysis was required, the NATSISS results are likely to confirm a continuing ‘mental health gap’ - measurable across several indicators of mental health - between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations.

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Commission acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands throughout Australia.
We pay our respects to their clans, and to the elders, past present and emerging, and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, sea and community.


The Commission is committed to embracing diversity and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the provision of health services. The Commission welcomes all people irrespective of ethnicity, lifestyle choice, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lived Experience

We acknowledge the individual and collective contributions of those with a lived and living experience of mental ill-health and suicide, and those who love, have loved and care for them. Each person’s journey is unique and a valued contribution to Australia’s commitment to mental health suicide prevention systems reform.