Leveraging lived experience of suicide to tackle suicide in South Sudanese and Tamil communities
Roses in the Ocean has had the privilege of working with the South Sudanese and Tamil communities in south east Melbourne with the support of the PHN since 2018. Much time has been invested in developing strong relationships of trust with community leaders, faith leaders and community members. Together, new avenues have been forged within community for conversation about suicide, up-skilling of local leaders to adapt and co-facilitate our TouchPoints training (a lived experience designed and delivered lifekeeper/ gatekeeper style workshop), and reach in to community meeting them where they are at.
More recently, we have continued this work with the support of Anglicare NSW with South Sudanese and Tamil communities in south west Sydney with a view to replicating the success in Melbourne and also establishing a Tamil Community-led Safe Space.
COVID Challenges, Community and Care – South Sudanese Community, South East Melbourne
Roses in the Ocean is proud to share a series of videos developed to explore the challenges that COVID-19 has presented for the South Sudanese community in Melbourne’s south east and how communities can support recovery. These videos have been developed as part of the Place-Based Suicide Prevention trials delivered by South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network and the Victorian Government.
The Roses in the Ocean video series have been designed to explore the challenges being faced by new communities as they settle in Australia. In particular, the focus is on the experiences of the South Sudanese Community, as they navigated the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic. The series focuses on how COVID-19 shaped and influenced this community, how they managed the difficulties of social isolation and being so far away from family, friends, and their social and faith-based networks.
The outcome is a frank discussion about life within community and the challenges they experience, that many of us take for granted. The series provides insight into the significant and long-lasting impact of trauma, the challenge of finding connection with a new culture so dissimilar to your own, the issues with mainstream support and settlement services, along with the way that community deals with grief, loss, mental health, and stigma. We discuss the typical signs of compromised wellbeing and suicidal ideation, as well as the way that people seek help from churches, family, friends, social networks and the health system.
Importantly, the video series shares what people can do to support each other, what works and what does not work well. We offer practical advice on the simple steps that any human being can take, as we search for ways of demonstrating care, empathy and support for another. We encourage the building of awareness, listening to others and connecting and responding in ways that reflect the very best of humanity.
South Sudanese Community Webinars
Sarah Berberi is a Counsellor Advocate at The Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc. (Foundation House). Sarah has worked in the mental health area with refugees since 1998. She has expertise in managing PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and a particular interest in the therapeutic use of current counselling modalities in combination with traditional oral storytelling.
Sarah has a Bachelor Degree of Arts from Victoria University, in Community Development (Asia Pacific) and Psychology, and a Masters Degree in Social Science (International Development) from RMIT University. Sarah has worked with refugees from East Africa. Sarah has also worked in South Sudan. She worked as Settlement Support Worker with the New Hope Foundation. Sarah was employed by RMIT University as sessional teacher in Diploma of Interpreting and Translating. In addition to English, Sarah speaks Arabic, Swahili, and Dinka.
Speaking in this video is Dr Santino Atem Deng PhD, an experienced counsellor, educator, researcher and trainer in mental health and trauma. He completed his PhD at Victoria University in Melbourne, where he has been investigating changes and challenges in South Sudanese family dynamics, and parenting practises in Australia. He has a Master of Education, specialising in Counselling, and a Bachelor of Education. He is widely published on many issues relating to community, mental health, family and parenting.
Support organisations for the African-Australian community
- African-Australian Family and Parenting Community Support Service
- Foundation House (The Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc.)
- African Family Services (Hyperlink – http://africanfamilyservices.org.au/)
- Youth Support & Advocacy Service (YSAS)
- Innovation Paper: Capacity building within CALD communities through lived experience of suicide