City welcomes StandBy support service

NATIONAL suicide bereavement support program StandBy will be established in Bendigo by March.

That was the aim delivered by StandBy national co-ordinator Jill Fisher and national partnership manager Trent Harvison during a visit to the city yesterday.

Ms Fisher and Mr Harvison delivered an in-depth community information session on StandBy to more than 40 people from welfare and support agencies, and other interested groups.

The Department of Health and Ageing-funded StandBy program delivers immediate support to people bereaved by suicide, and works to refer those who need ongoing care to the right agencies.

Under the StandBy model, a co-ordinator will be based in Bendigo to oversee trained response teams in towns and cities across the Lodden Mallee and Lower Murray regions.

Mr Harvision said community support was a vital component of the StandBy model.

‘’This is about us working with the community and what is already operating in the community,’’ he said.

Mr Harvison said he would now search for the best agency to run StandBy in Bendigo.

Ms Fisher said people bereaved by suicide were recognised as “at risk” in 2008. “It’s a very new area, yet suicide bereavement has been with us for so long,’’ she said. 

“If people don’t get support at the right time and right place they can become at risk of suicide.

“Suicide loss doesn’t stop after the funeral... we need to provide support at many, many times of need.’’

Ms Fisher said the 24-hour StandBy service worked to reduce the stigma and feeling of isolation for people bereaved by suicide and to generate new hope.

She said StandBy was successful because the program harnessed community support.

“The way this works is that everyone we can find in the community plays a role in suicide bereavement support,’’ she said.

Ms Fisher said those roles extended from making a casserole to providing funding, knitting a trauma teddy or – in the case of one publican – offering a place for a bereaved family to stay the night.

She said StandBy was an invitation-based program that worked closely with those first on the scene, such as police and ambulance, to gain consent from those bereaved before responding.

Ms Fisher said the early signs were good for StandBy in Bendigo.

“Just the interest today has shown us an amazing willingness,’’ she said. “We believe there’s real potential for huge success with StandBy here.”

Mr Harvison said he would return to Bendigo in early December to meet with service providers.

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