Heal Our Way: Cox Inall Ridgeway launch First Nations suicide prevention campaign

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Dentsu-affiliated Aboriginal social change agency Cox Inall Ridgeway has launched a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention campaign in NSW, designed to provide support, tools and advice on having safe conversations around suicide. 

The Heal Our Way campaign, funded by the NSW Ministry of Health under Towards Zero Suicides (TZS) initiative, aims to give NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities the tools and skills to have safe conversations around suicide and to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to reach out for support and help. 

Cox Inall Ridgeway, which is 51 per cent Aboriginal-owned, co-designed the campaign working together with NSW Aboriginal communities, tapping into Australia’s First Nation’s 6,000 years of creative history to make a campaign that speaks to the resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. 

Cox Inall Ridgeway General Manager Yatu Widders Hunt said: “The campaign is anchored in lived experience, this is fundamentally important for any campaign speaking to First Nations communities, but particularly so when tackling issues around mental health and suicide. The expertise, the knowledge and the history lives in our communities, not within agencies, at Cox Inall Ridgeway our role is to harness that and work in a collaborative way and that’s what we did.” 

Cox Inall Ridgeway assembled a community advisory panel to ensure the campaign was honouring existing knowledge in First Nations communities and deliver materials that could better support them in having safe conversations around suicide. 

The advisory team included Aboriginal psychologist Professor Pat Dudgeon, Tom Brideson former CEO of Gayaa Dhuwi and representatives from the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (AIPA), NSW Ministry of Health, Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations funded by TZS. 

The campaign recognises that cultural identity, belonging and connectedness are central to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing and are protective factors that assist in managing life stressors. 

At the heart of the campaign, is the stories of the lived experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages, speaking openly about their or their friends and family’s experiences with suicide. 

Those case-studies are complemented by tools that can be used to encourage and prompt safe discussions around suicide, including a guide to safe conversations comic, activities to prompt discussions and guides to running a strengths-based yarning circle and working with community. 

Vanessa Edwige, Cox Inall Ridgeway Senior Consultant and Psychologist said: “First Nations communities have been told what to do for so long, this campaign is not about 

doing the same, rather it is about working with them around how to create something that works with the communities’ interests at heart.” 

Suicide accounted for 5.5 per cent of all deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in 2020. 

“Suicide effects all communities, while it is a human issue, this campaign is about empowering our people to have safe conversations about what it means for our communities,” Ms Edwige said. 

Heal Our Way is running across social media, directing audiences to an online hub with support tools and resources. It is complemented by on ground activations including community events and strengths-based yarning circles, that is a harmonious, creative and collaborative way of communicating which places aside any social hierarchy to encourage responsible, respectful and honest interactions between participants. 

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For further information, contact: 

Miranda Ward 
Senior Communications Manager