Develop your plan

Follow the steps below to start developing your group's action plan:

1: Reflection

  • Have any suicide prevention activities already been planned or taken place?
  • Do any action groups already exist?
  • Find out who in your local council is in charge of community development and invite them to participate. Ideally the wording in your action plan* will match the wording of the council's social or community plan.
  • Who are the key local people working in suicide prevention?
  • Can you build on existing efforts?

*In Mount Gambier, South Australia the community action group lodged their action plan with their local council. See the yellow box at the bottom of the Announce your intention page.

2: Common language and shared vision

  • It’s important to gain the agreement and commitment of all those involved and of the community at large.
  • Gain support by announcing that a group is being established and that its intention is to tackle suicide as a community.
  • You should agree on the definitions and language you want to use. Also, make sure you talk to people with lived experience to better understand how to avoid stigmatising language or language that can offend people or make them feel judged.

3: What will your action group look like?

  • Your group needs to have members with the skills, knowledge and supports to develop, monitor and evaluate the action plan.
  • It also needs to agree on terms of reference, a code of conduct, conflict resolution processes, how to record activities (e.g. minutes of meetings) and evaluating the group’s activities.
  • Connecting with relevant organisations, services and community members will help your group to do all these things. 

4: Resources – people and money

  • People power is one of the greatest resources in any action plan. Be prepared by having backups for community action group members, key community champions and community leaders so that your plan doesn’t get derailed if someone leaves the group or moves away from the area.
  • It’s a reality that financial resources may also be needed for the plan to be implemented. Fundraising, particularly from businesses, is one way to go. Another option is to apply for funds or grants from organisations such as your local council, business groups or government sources and private foundations.
  • Consider breaking down your action plan into several stages. This will help spread out limited resources, make it easier for people to participate, encourage balance and prevent burnout of already busy people.

5: Information – research

  • Make sure any planned activities take into account existing activities and areas of need in your community: your council or state government can provide regional statistical data/information about the community – demographic, social, health and economic.
  • Use community surveys or focus groups to find out about and discuss community suicide issues, risk factors and groups in need of support. Suicide Prevention Australia and other agencies can help you with expert information about relevant, safe and effective suicide prevention activities.

6: Sustainability – for the long term

  • Link with other community resilience, wellbeing and suicide prevention efforts.
  • Use existing groups such as sporting clubs or community organisations for wellbeing initiatives, free venues for community action group meetings, community forums and presentations.
  • Build and maintain a strong and stable community action group, supported by the recruitment of new members as needed.
  • Local fundraising and applications for external funds for initiatives. Organise in-kind donations, that is, use volunteers and access free resources provided by participating organisations and services (e.g. photocopying, telephone, internet services).
  • Work towards long-term and sustainable levels of funding and resources.

7: Evaluation – what has worked?

  • Evaluation of prevention activities adds to existing knowledge and understanding of what works and what doesn't work in suicide prevention.
  • Suicide prevention activities that can show they work are more likely to gain continuing community, practical and financial support.

You should include an action plan evaluation framework from the start. At living is for everyone (LIFE) you’ll find two useful documents: Evaluation: A guide for good practice (2001) which provides useful background and step-by-step information on how to conduct an evaluation, and A manual to guide the development of local evaluation plans (2003) which provides the information to put into evaluation plans.