Record Numbers in Queensland Receive Help from Lifeline, Funding Needs Regularizing: Report

McKell Institute Queensland

• Lifeline QLD regularly receives 600 calls every day • Lifeline provides critical role in supporting those deemed the ‘missing middle’ • Rising demand highlights need for updated funding model A new McKell Institute Queensland report has found Lifeline Queensland experienced a surge in demand in the last 18 months, highlighting the need for regularised funding so it can continue to provide reliable and timely help to Queenslanders in crisis. The report, ‘Communities in crisis: Lifeline Qld supporting those in need’ found demand for the crisis support and suicide prevention service skyrocketed in recent times, driven, in part, by natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic. The report identifies and recommends the need for a standardised funding model for Lifeline QLD, so it is not reliant on a reactive crisis funding model. Key findings: 1. From 2019 to 2021, national crisis calls to Lifeline increased by 37%, and by 16% in QLD. 2. Increased demand means Lifeline QLD now regularly receives more than 600 calls a day (35.6% of the time). 3. Queensland’s busiest day was recorded on December 11, 2022, with 963 calls coming through. 4. Since 2019, the Community Recovery program has made almost 68,000 referrals to support services, with almost 45,000 instances of practical support. 5. Lifeline deemed critical in supporting the ‘missing middle’ – the people whose needs fall between community services and clinical care. 6. Demand highlights the funding model for community disaster events needs to move from a ‘crisis response’ model to one that is proactive. Lifeline is Queensland’s most recognised and relied on crisis support service. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, anyone can reach out to Lifeline, where a fully-qualified Crisis Supporter provides compassion and support. “Lifeline Queensland is an absolutely invaluable part of the state’s mental health infrastructure, and our report finds it should be able to plan its resources based on a regular, predictable funding model,” McKell Institute Queensland Executive Director Sarah Mawhinney said. “While the additional funding that tends to flow during natural disasters is welcome, the Queensland Government needs to future-proof mental health disaster crises with more consistent and stable funding, instead of something that is activated as an afterthought in the wake of a crises.” “Queenslanders rely on Lifeline being available 24-hours a day, whenever they need it. For Lifeline Queensland to continue offering that service to a growing population, it needs a regularised funding program.” Lifeline Queensland General Manager Luke Lindsay said the report was a powerful reminder of the importance of Lifeline Queensland to the community. “It is quite remarkable to see in stark numbers how demand for Lifeline’s support has exploded in recent years,” Mr Lindsay said. “What’s reassuring to see is that Queenslanders know we can help when they are facing a crisis or when they just need support. “The report highlights just how critical Lifeline is to so many in our community, with our services helping to address the needs of the ‘missing middle’ within the mental health and suicide prevention ecosystem,” Mr Lindsay said. With Lifeline marking its 60th year helping Australians in need, Mr Lindsay said its imperative to ensure we can continue to remain there for people over the next sixty years as well. “Given the increasing need for Lifeline’s services, it’s clear the current funding model is inadequate. We ask the Queensland Government to acknowledge the invaluable role that Lifeline plays within the community and help us lift capacity to meet the ongoing demand.”

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