The 2018 Australian Regional Development Conference will be held at Twin Towns Services Club, Tweed Heads, NSW this month over 17-18 September.

Joining us at the conference is Ms Tessa Caton, Ramhp Program Manager at the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health who will present on ‘Rural Suicide and its Prevention: A Community Response’.

Tessa Caton


In 2016, the number of suicides per 100,000 people in rural and remote Australia was 50% higher than in cities. This rate has been growing more rapidly than in cities and gets higher as areas become more remote. The Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health believes that five strategies are needed to address this situation:

1. Prevent people who experience suicidality from taking their own lives
2. Help those who are affected by suicide
3. Provide support to vulnerable groups
4. Build protective factors in young people
5. Build healthy and resilient people and communities.

The prevention of rural suicide is not the sole responsibility of health services, rather it requires a “whole-of-community response”. This presentation will outline the CRRMH’s approach to rural suicide prevention, as outlined in their position paper, Rural Suicide and its Prevention. We will also describe a successful example of this approach, Our Healthy Clarence. Our Healthy Clarence is a community led initiative in the Clarence Valley developed to address a higher than expected number of deaths by suicide. Its success is embedded in its broad approach to wellbeing, based on genuine community consultation, and keeping ownership at the community level.

This presentation will highlight the importance of strong and diverse rural communities and empowering local councils, industry, and regional policy officers to take practical steps to create healthy resilient communities, build community wellbeing and prevent suicide in rural Australia.

Take a broad approach to community wellbeing:
1. Don’t just focus on suicide prevention Suicide prevention is not the sole responsibility of the health service.
2. Requires a whole-of-community response Rural communities are diverse.
3. Hence suicide prevention planning is needed at the regional level.


Tessa Caton is the Program Manager for the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP). In this role, she provides strategic management to 14 RAMHP Coordinators who work to identify and link people living in rural NSW, that may be concerned about their mental health, into care and support. Tessa’s role also involves the development of strategic partnerships which enable RAMHP to operate effectively and sustainably in rural communities. Tessa also has a strong health economics background having previously worked for Deloitte’s Health Economics and Social Policy team, both in Australia and Canada, for over 6 years.

For more information on the 2018 Australian Regional Development Conference this month and to secure your spot, please visit

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