Evaluation of suicide prevention activities

11.5 Integration and synergies between the NSPP and other suicide prevention activities

Page last updated: January 2014

Through consultations with stakeholders, a rich range of perspectives were offered on the extent to which the NSPP is integrated or works synergistically with other suicide prevention efforts. The key themes that emerged from these interviews are described in the following text.

11.5.1 Understanding of the NSPP
11.5.2 Integration between the NSPP and other suicide prevention efforts

11.5.1 Understanding of the NSPP

The stakeholders consulted held a variety of views about what the NSPP was, and, consequently, these differing interpretations influenced their views of how the NSPP is integrated with other activities. A number of stakeholders did not understand the difference between the NSPS and the NSPP, and the two terms were often used synonymously. While some people referred to the NSPP as the program of funding for suicide prevention activities, others considered it to be the overarching strategy for suicide prevention in Australia, and still others considered that the NSPP was encapsulated within the LIFE Framework. One suicide prevention expert was not certain whether 'the NSPS is operationalised within the LIFE Framework, or is it the other way round?' The relationship between the NSPP and the TATS package was also not well understood.

This confusion made it difficult to unpack stakeholders' views about the contribution of the NSPP to overall suicide prevention efforts in Australia and the way that it integrates with other programs. For example, one respondent remarked that a key success of the NSPP has been in shining a light on the need for better data and monitoring in suicide prevention. However, it is possible that in making this comment the respondent was referring to the LIFE Framework or the broader NSPS, rather than the NSPP specifically.

Those who were aware of the body of NSPP-funded projects were generally uncertain about the rationale for funding the existing mix of projects (this included representatives from the DoHA STOs). Some suggested that while the projects did reflect the LIFE Framework, the LIFE Framework was so broad that any and all suicide prevention activities could conceivably be considered to align with the framework.

Other stakeholders felt that Australia's approach to suicide prevention was too narrowly focused on mental illness and this criticism was levelled at both the NSPP and the LIFE Framework. Arguably, this view points to a limited understanding of the NSPP and the LIFE Framework, because the LIFE Framework and the NSPP funding guidelines do in fact include a strong focus on the 'upstream' risk factors for suicide and the role of universal interventions (see Section 3.3.1). At the same time, this view also suggests that when considering Australian Government strategy around suicide prevention, people do not easily differentiate between the NSPS, the NSPP, the LIFE Framework and other Australian Government mental health initiatives such as the Report Card and the Roadmap.

Key findings

People working in the suicide prevention sector held mixed and sometimes confused views of what the NSPP is. Many did not see the NSPP as a distinct component of the Australian Government’s activity around suicide prevention, and several confused the NSPP with the NSPS or the LIFE Framework. Top of page

11.5.2 Integration between the NSPP and other suicide prevention efforts

Discussions with DoHA STO representatives showed that there were variations in their level of understanding of NSPP-funded projects underway in their jurisdiction. This variability may be a function of the staff turnover and the diversity of programs included in the STO portfolios.

Communication and leadership were consistently reported as areas in which improvements could be made to enhance integration. These are described below.


STO representatives listed intra- and inter-departmental communication as an area for possible improvement. Examples cited included:
  • Jurisdictions would benefit from more information about developments at federal level regarding departmental restructures, strategy development and funding announcements. This would assist jurisdictions to plan their activities, have input into decisions about where funds may be needed and avoid duplication of services or competition for funding between NGOs. The national expansion of two NSPP-funded projects under the TATS package was identified as an example where such information was not made available.
  • Some jurisdictions found it difficult to adjust their service provision models to align with Australian Government projects.
  • STO representatives reported having good working relationships with jurisdictional staff responsible for developing and implementing state/territory level suicide prevention strategies, however jurisdictional staff tended to approach DoHA CO directly with questions or concerns, thereby excluding STO staff.


While the jurisdictional representatives were consistently of the view that communication regarding the NSPP could be improved, they also suggested that the Australian Government should take a stronger leadership role in shaping the direction of suicide prevention in Australia. This view was echoed by the peak body representatives and other experts interviewed. They suggested that the leadership role of the Australian Government could be strengthened in the following areas:
  • Providing a more detailed vision for suicide prevention in Australia. While the LIFE Framework was seen in general as a useful document, it was considered by some to lack specificity regarding priorities and concrete actions
  • Better promotion of the evidence for what works, and promotion of a stronger commitment to evidence-based practice
  • Playing a stronger role in the collection, management and dissemination of data
  • Playing a coordinating role between national and jurisdictional suicide prevention efforts to ensure that gaps in the delivery of services are taken into account in a more systematic manner (this included a stronger role in coordinating ‘rapid responses’ to suicide ‘clusters’ in particular areas)
  • Strengthening the terms of reference of ASPAC to enable the Council to take a more strategic role
  • Setting targets for the reduction in suicide rates and related outcomes
  • Supporting improved sector coordination mechanisms to promote a shared vision of suicide prevention in Australia.

Key findings

Communication and leadership between DoHA, the jurisdictions and the sector was seen as an area for improvement, to ensure the NSPP is integrated with other suicide prevention activities in Australia.