The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has been selected from more than 300,000 global organisations to receive an award for a cutting-edge digital project to monitor incidents of suicide and self-harm across the Australian population.

The Esri Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award recognises the Institute’s innovative use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to pioneer new ways of analysing and sharing public health data.

As part of the Australian-first project, the Institute created a series of interactive digital maps that improved access to geographic data across the spectrum of suicide behaviours, allowing users to better understand the distribution of population and community-level risk.

This application of GIS technology enables people to access and visualise critical data relating to suicide and self-harm deaths and hospitalisations – alongside other data monitoring ambulance attendances and coronial registers.

The award-winning solution supports the Australian Government’s $2.3 billion commitment to mental health and suicide prevention programs.

Funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health, the Institute’s system ensures vital information is available for communities to make data-driven, service delivery decisions and implement timely and effective interventions.

The project offers all Australians a baseline understanding of geographic and demographic risk factors – giving real-world context to the government’s prevention strategies.

An Esri Australia representative said the AIHW’s solution will serve as an important framework for other health agencies to share crucial information with the public.

“Increasingly, GIS technology is being used by the health sector as a tool for communicating complex issues that span cities, states and countries. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Johns Hopkins mapping app received over 1 billion hits from people eager to stay across the situation as it unfolded.

“With the Institute’s award-winning work, for the first time, Australians have access to a national and connected picture of critical data on suicide and self-harm which will serve as a ‘best practice’ approach for other areas of the public health system.

“We congratulate the Institute for their meaningful achievements in disseminating accurate, timely analysis that helps leaders develop support strategies and better deploy services that save lives.”

For more information on the Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring project, please visit: aihw.gov.au/suicide-self-harm-monitoring

Critical to achieving the objectives of The National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring System website is advocating the use of the Mindframe guidelines when reporting on statistics on the monitoring of suicide and self-harm.

If you or someone around you requires support, there are a number of National FREE 24/7 Crisis Services: 

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