Today, Prime Minister Morrison, announced the Australian Government would commit to additional funding for Lifeline to ensure that no Australian has to face their darkest moments alone during the COVID-19 outbreak.
John Brogden, Lifeline Australia Chairman, today acknowledged the Federal Government for prioritising suicide prevention and crisis support services with this critical injection of funds:
“This funding is crucial to ensuring the safety of Australians as they grapple with COVID-19 and self-isolation. We are very grateful to Prime Minister Morrison and the Australian Government for prioritising suicide prevention, crisis support and the mental health needs of our community. This will save lives.”
Mr Brogden said Lifeline will utilise the funding in this exceptional circumstance, to ease unemployment by increasing Lifeline’s Crisis Support capacity to meet increased demand for the service during the outbreak.
“Isolation measures that have been brought in to preserve our physical health throughout COVID-19 are necessary and tough, but they will have a significant impact on the mental health of many. These same measures will see many of people stood down from their positions, which will increase the need for our service.
By working in partnership with the Australian Government, Lifeline can close the mental health service accessibility gap created by COVID-19. By offering temporary employment opportunities, Lifeline can simultaneously increase our capacity to respond to Australians in crisis and ease the burden of unemployment.” He said.
Mr Brogden said new recruit Crisis Supporters will receive Lifeline Crisis Supporter training to maintain the quality of service delivery and non-judgemental opportunities for connection for which Lifeline is renowned.
Lifeline’s 13 11 14 telephone service has already received an increase in calls due to the virus, with a call now coming in every 30 seconds.
“Just in the last week, the number of callers who contacted Lifeline and wanted to talk about concerns surrounding COVID-19 has increased from 23% to 39%. We expect this to continue to rise as Australians lose opportunities to connect with each other due to the effects of COVID-19.” Said Mr Brogden.
Over the summer, Lifeline experienced a sustained increase of 10 – 15% in contacts due to bushfire. The service is now bracing for an additional 25% increase in contacts over the coming weeks and months as Australians grapple with the effects of COVID-19.
“This summer proved that when Australian’s are overwhelmed, they turn to Lifeline for support. Lifeline is committed to ensuring that we can be available to offer support to any person who needs us at any time they need it.” Said Mr Brogden.
Mr Brogden said the support from the Australian Government will also assist the organisation to ensure Crisis Supporters are available to respond to calls, chats and text messages remotely as well as the continuation of critical services for local communities that its 40 centres across the nation operate in.
Mr Brogden renewed his earlier calls to the community to reach out to those who may be living alone and to those who may find the physical distancing and self-isolation a struggle.
“We know that connection is key. If you, or someone you know are feeling overwhelmed, we encourage you to connect with Lifeline in the way you feel most comfortable. Either phone us to speak to a Crisis Supporter on 13 11 14 (24 hours/7 days), Text us on 0477 13 11 14 (6pm – midnight, 7 nights) or chat to us online at www.lifeline.org.au(7pm – midnight, 7 nights).” Mr Brogden said.
Lifeline is Australia’s leading suicide prevention service, operating the 13 11 14 telephone line within 40 centres around the nation. The service expects to respond to over one million requests for support this year, creating an average of 120 safety plans to keep a person experiencing suicidal ideation safe every day.