Mayors Suicide Prevention Taskforce unveils community-led suicide prevention model

Published: 30 Mar 2023

The Greater Whitsunday Council of Mayors Suicide Prevention Taskforce has unveiled an innovative community-led suicide prevention model aimed at improving mental health care in the Greater Whitsunday region.

The Pathways Connect model is designed to work in alignment with all existing services, community groups, and initiatives within the region.

The Taskforce was established in response to the regions ‘concerns about escalating suicide rates and the difficulties residents face in accessing appropriate mental health services. Over the course of 2022, Greater Whitsunday Communities worked alongside a diverse range of community members and service providers to design an outreach model to create better access to mental health resources.

Greater Whitsunday Communities is now seeking financial contributions and partnerships to begin implementation of the pilot model, with the intention of working in alignment with all existing services, community groups, and initiatives.

Carol Norris, Executive Officer, Greater Whitsunday Communities said: "Pathways Connect is an innovative community led solution to suicide prevention in the Greater Whitsundays, developed through a dedicated and inclusive co-design process led by the Greater Whitsunday Communities. By providing early intervention and support through trained peers, it enhances access to mental health services and aims to prevent suicide in the region. We commend the Greater Whitsunday Council of Mayors Suicide Prevention Taskforce for taking such a proactive and community-led approach to addressing this public health crisis, and we hope that funding partners will step up to support this crucial initiative.”

Isaac Regional Council Mayor, Anne Baker said: "I have seen first-hand the impacts of suicide across our communities. Our community has finally been heard through a collaborative process and place-based model of delivery. The most unique aspect of this model is the peer-to-peer matching, enabling people to talk with whom they consider their peer. The concept works on the assumption of having a wide variety and diverse group of peer connectors all with different experiences, personalities and backgrounds. The matching system effectively supports a compassionate, positive and familiar experience for people seeking support by creating connections with relatable, likeminded people”.

Mackay Regional Council Mayor, Greg Williamson said: "what has been developed is a community-led, early intervention suicide prevention pilot model, co-designed by community, industry, and government representatives from across the Greater Whitsunday footprint, and is intended to help our people find the right option, at the right time".

Julie Hall, Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor added: "Pathways Connect values purpose, compassion, and individual empowerment leading and creating positive experiences. Investment, collaboration, and support are needed to ensure the Greater Whitsunday region is armed with the tools to fight a global, detrimental issue".

Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) CEO Robin Whyte said: “NQPHN is pleased to see the release of this report and the development of the Pathways Connect Model. The collective work of the members of the Greater Whitsunday Council of Mayors Suicide Prevention Taskforce to truly listen to the voice of our communities across the Mackay, Isaac, and Whitsunday regions has allowed the development of a community-led approach to improve access to support. The information in this report will inform the development and improvement of services in our community into the future.”

Stephanie Zweers, Operations Director, Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs Service Division, Mackay Hospital and Health Service said: “We know there has been, and will continue to be, demand for mental health, wellbeing and crisis support services within the region. The collaborative approach to the development of the Pathways Connect model has been led heavily by the community, noting the importance of identifying needs and services to enhance mental health support within Mackay. The recommendations of this final report show that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for managing mental health care.  Therefore, connection to proactive community-based services can assist many individuals to avoid hospital admission and enhance navigation of suitable supports when mental health support is needed””.

Lived Experience Representative for the taskforce, Emma Rix said: "The most important aspect of this model is getting people to the right assistance or service for their individual situation.  If we can do this, not only will it create a better experience for those who are struggling, but we will also ease the pressure on the services we have in the community".

The Greater Whitsunday Council of Mayors Suicide Prevention Project Co-design Report can be publicly accessed via the Greater Whitsunday Communities website.

For more information or to access the co-design report, please visit