The West Australian government's belated response to a spate of suicides by Aboriginal youths in the Kimberley region includes an initial $266.7 million funding package to support a dozen commitment areas including better prevention services.
A 2017 inquest examined the deaths of 13 indigenous children and young people over a three-and-a-half year period in the region, hearing that of the 12 who took their own lives, five were aged between 10 and 13, including two sisters.
Coroner Ros Fogliani made an open finding in one of the cases.
She delivered 42 findings more than 13 months ago including screening for foetal alcohol spectrum disorder during infant health assessments and when a child enters the child protection or justice systems for the first time.
In its full response to the inquest and a 2016 parliamentary inquiry on Friday, the WA government addressed a combined 86 recommendations.
It accepted or accepted in principle, or was already implementing, all but 15 of the recommendations, saying four had been superseded and 11 required more time and investigation to provide a response.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt said a range of initiatives would be delivered to help build empowered, supported and culture-driven indigenous communities across the state.
The state government's 12 commitment areas include better prevention, intervention and postvention services, and building capacity in health and mental health services.
But National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project coordinator Gerry Georgatos labelled the response "paper-thin", describing it as "piecemeal perfunctory investments without any rudimentary systemic approach".
The suicide rate in the Kimberley, once the nation's highest, fell in 2019 and so far this year but remains alarmingly high, Mr Georgatos said.
Australia's highest suicide rate - more than seven times the national rate - is currently among the Yamatji people of the Murchison-Gascoyne region, who comprise more than one-third of WA's indigenous suicides.
Two-thirds of suicides in the Kimberley are youths, most living in crushing poverty.
"That's a pretty tragically powerful, sad indictment," Mr Georgatos told AAP.
While one in 50 Australian deaths is attributable to people taking their own lives, one in 17 indigenous deaths are suicide.
Mr Georgatos said every state and territory government, and the Commonwealth, should invest "never-before-seen" funds directly into regional communities to improve quality of life.
He said it was also critical to invest in authentic, expert outreach services that physically, and regularly meet with at-risk people, beyond the desk-bound services already offered.
"If you've got someone suicidally critical, they can't wait three months for a psychiatrist," he said.
"You need someone who is on tap in the moment or at least proximally the next day to give them some hope - you've got to journey with them."
The state government issued a preliminary response in May last year and flagged a full response by the end of 2019.
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Australian Associated Press