TRIBUTES continue to flow for Eve Barratt who will leave a enduring legacy across the Mount Gambier community.
Ms Barratt – who was a champion of her community – died on January 6 at the Mount Gambier Hospital after an eight month battle with cancer.
The inspirational resident was farewelled at a public service at Mount Gambier last Friday.
A dedicated, passionate and spirited community leader, Ms Barratt was a pioneer in suicide prevention and problem gambling initiatives.
Ms Barratt spearheaded the ground-breaking prisoner listener program at the Mount Gambier Prison, which was the first of its kind in Australia.
The long-serving Lifeline South East chief executive regularly visited the correctional facility to train prisoners to listen and support their peers.
This led to a dramatic fall in the number of suicides at the Moorak prison and is considered a benchmark program across Australia.
Ms Barratt was also a tireless advocate in pushing for gambling reforms and services to help people struggling with addiction.
Lifeline South East acting chief executive Leah Griffin said the board, staff and volunteers were deeply saddened by the loss of Ms Barratt.
“Eve was an innovative, caring and compassionate community leader whose belief that ‘every life matters’ shone through in everything that she did,” Ms Griffin said.
“She was passionate about suicide prevention and making change, she encouraged people to always be kind to themselves and to others and to never underestimate the value of five minutes of kindness.
“Eve encouraged others to be the best version of themselves and believed in giving a hand up to others rather than a hand out.”
Ms Griffin said Ms Barratt was also not afraid to drive social change and worked tirelessly for the rights of others across the Limestone Coast community.
Ms Barratt was also a member of the advisory committee to the minister on suicide prevention.
Meanwhile, former Limestone Coast police superintendent and Men’s Watch spokesperson Trevor Twilley – who worked closely with Ms Barratt on suicide prevention – also paid tribute to the inspiring community leader.
Mr Twilley said Ms Barratt was a “very selfless and kind person” who touched countless lives across the region.
“One thing I wanted to say to Eve before her passing was life is not about the destiny, it is the journey and she has had one hell of a journey,” Mr Twilley said.
“To think of the countless lives she has made a positive impact on, throughout her service at Lifeline.
“Irrespective of what walk of life or a person’s background, she treated everybody equally.”
THROUGH combined efforts with the Mount Gambier Mental Health Suicide Prevention committee and Out of the Shadows event, Mr Twilley said Ms Barratt’s primary focus was suicide prevention.
“She believed everybody was entitled to the same level of service,” he said.
“She worked closely providing programs in the Mount Gambier Prison to help prisoners who were susceptible to suicide while contained or released.”
A proud achievement, Mr Twilley said Ms Barratt and himself were the only two non-indigenous people invited by Pangula Mannamurna to develop their Aboriginal and Torrens Strait Island Suicide Action Prevention Program in 2014.
Working closely with Ms Barratt through the development of the Treasuring Life-ATSI Suicide Prevention Network, Limestone Coast Aboriginal health worker Peter May said Ms Barratt held an enduring and special place in his heart.
“Eve was instrumental in the development of the suicide prevention network and I was blessed to have formed a special bond with this unique person who I just loved so very much,” Mr May said.
“Eve gave so much to the community through Lifeline and suicide prevention far and wide.
“This special person will always be in my heart to the end of my time and that of our network and my thoughts are with Eve’s family at this time.”
Mr May knew as soon as he met Ms Barratt, she was somebody “truly special”.
“We know a person is special by the mere fact they were born,” he said.
“We know a person is special because they have unique perspectives, experiences and thoughts nobody else shares.
“A person is special because they have unique gifts and abilities …. you view that person in a unique way, which makes the person stand out in your eyes and Eve was this person to me.”
PUSHING FOR CHANGE
MS Barratt – had extensive experience in support services and was appointed by the State Government in 2013 to the Independent Gaming Commission.
In 2016, Ms Barratt led the Responsible Gambling Indigenous Art Project that featured Kingston Community School students’ work in 11 licensed venues with gaming machine entitlements, along with welfare offices across the region.
The colourful artwork spread the message of “do not gamble our culture away”, used on posters and coasters.
IN 2010, Ms Barratt was awarded the Healthy Communities Life Award for her Prisoner Listener Program implemented at the Mount Gambier Prison.
In the time the Prison Listener Program has been in operation, Mount Gambier has experienced only one suicide and has not reported any other suicide attempts, which is considered “remarkably” low, considering that suicide is the leading cause of death in Australian prisons.
In an interview with The Border Watch in 2018, Ms Barratt said it was important to reach out to prisoners as life behind bars was often difficult with one man describing his period of incarceration to her as a “silent scream”.
She was adamant the program directly saved lives through training prisoners.
Mount Gambier Prison general manager Michelle Price applauded Ms Barratt’s contribution to the prisoners and staff since she began her journey with Lifeline.
“What Eve bought to this partnership was her belief and values that emphasised the worth of people regardless of who they were or where they were from,” Ms Price said.
“The Listeners Program, introduced by Eve, is based on the belief that prisoners can be ‘knowledgeable agents’ in helping other prisoners.
“Eve’s charisma and charm endeared her to all those who came into contact with her, her passion for championing and supporting those in need was evident for all to see.”
Ms Price said Ms Barratt’s devotion to work saved many lives across the Limestone Coast and Australia.
“Eve was truly inspirational and has left a legacy of hope and will be sorely missed by us all,” she said.
MOUNT Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin said Ms Barratt would be remembered for her tireless contribution to the community.
“Eve understood suicide awareness, prevention and post-prevention requires a whole of community response and under Eve’s leadership in 2013 the Mount Gambier Suicide Prevention Network became the first in South Australia to connect its Suicide Prevention Action Plan directly with local government,” Ms Martin said.
“Accessible, socially inclusive community places and spaces are key to improving the wellbeing of our community.
“Eve recognised and acknowledged a number of these places within our city but most notably the community safe haven of the Mount Gambier Library.”
Ms Martin said Ms Barratt was always there for the community.
“She provided strength to the vulnerable and her unwavering commitment for those most in need at times of crisis was unquestionable,” she said.
“Eve was the face of Lifeline in the Limestone Coast and was extremely dedicated not only to her role, but to the wellbeing of our community.
“On behalf of the City of Mount Gambier I extend our sincere condolences to Eve’s husband John and family. Vale Eve.”