Employment and education opportunities are key to building self-esteem among young aboriginals to tackle the rapid increase in suicides, particularly in remote communities, according to WA Premier Colin Barnett and opposition leader Mark McGowan.

Both leaders were speaking at ACL’s WA Make it Count event in Perth in the lead up to the March 11, 2017 elections.

However, both leaders had different views on how to provide these opportunities. Whereas Mr McGowan believed it was important to keep remote communities open, Mr Barnett said at times closing communities was necessary and encouraging aboriginals to towns with job opportunities was important.

“The rate of suicide in indigenous communities is really a national disgrace,” Mr Barnett said.

He said drug use was also having a negative impact on the communities.

Mr McGowan said: “What we have got to do as senior politicians…. is make sure there is better hope for the future for aboriginal people and that there are programs and jobs and opportunities and young aboriginal people see that in the future there is a better life ahead for themselves.”

Here is some background on the issue.

Watch the full Make it Count event here