Actor and writer and occasional New Matilda columnist Steven Oliver has returned to the screen to star in a new social media campaign aimed at tackling youth suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Called #OURMOB, the series features four short videos of young people and poetry by Oliver, along with Murri artist Ancestress, which focus on themes of belonging, self-care and resilience.
The series aims to promote social connectedness, connection to land, culture and spirituality are just some of the protective factors that can help tackle the underlying causes linked to high youth suicide rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Youth suicide remains a huge problem in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – it’s highest among males between 25 and 29 years of age (four times the rate for non-Indigenous males) and in females, the highest suicide rate was in the 20-24 age group, which is five times the non-Indigenous female rate for that age group.
Oliver appears in the first video, titled #YOUMOB which was released this week on social media. The other videos will be released, once a week during March.
The second video in the series is called ‘#BIGGESTMOB’, and features young people sharing their identity through country.
Video three is called ‘#USMOB’ and features a poem written by Murri artist, Ancestress.
The final video in the series is called ‘#ONEMOB’ and is based on a poem by Steven Oliver.
Oliver, a descendent of the Kuku Yalanji, Gangalidda, Waanyi, Woppaburra, Biripi and Bundjalung peoples, was engaged by the Brisbane Indigenous Media Association, with support by NIB foundation to work on the campaign. Oliver, who is also an Ambassador for R U Okay Day, says he felt strongly about the project.
“Suicide has touched my own mob and while this was an opportunity to primarily promote to young people that we are resilient and strong, I wanted the message to appeal to all mob who may be struggling,” he said.
Brisbane Indigenous Media Association CEO, Kaava Watson, says addressing youth suicide is critical.
“We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide is amongst the highest in the world and as an Indigenous media organisation we have a responsibility to provide relevant and meaningful content for our young people who may be at risk of suicide,” Mr Watson said.
He called on the community to share the #YOUMOB video and the #OURMOB campaign as widely as possible.
“If it encourages just one of our mob to reach out and get help, it will be worth it. But I think these videos are a good reminder for all of us to be looking out for each other, particularly our young people.”
#OURMOB was made possible through a grant from nib foundation and support from beyondblue and headspace.
Key national 24/7 crisis support services:
Lifeline: 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978 www.mensline.org.au
Key national youth support services:
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelpline.com.au
headspace: 1800 650 890 www.headspace.org.au
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