Today, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, announced the Victorian Government would contribute $2.1 Million to help Lifeline respond to the increased needs of the community during the COVID-19 crisis.
John Brogden, Lifeline Australia Chairman, today thanked Premier Daniel Andrews and Mental Health Minister Martin Foley for the critical injection of funding for the stretched suicide prevention services:
“We are very grateful to Premier Andrews and Mental Health Minister Martin Foley for prioritising the mental health needs of the Victorian community. This funding comes at a critical time for Lifeline.
Australians are turning to Lifeline for support more than at any other time in our 57-year history. This March, we received almost 90,000 calls from people in crisis, that’s a call every 30 seconds,” said Mr Brogden.
We are experiencing the highest number of calls in the history of Lifeline.
“In the last three weeks, the number of callers who contacted Lifeline and wanted to talk about COVID-19 has jumped from 23% to over 50%.
And the longer this lasts the more calls we will receive. We expect calls to continue to rise as the impact of business closures, social isolation, health concerns and financial stress continue to take a toll on the metal health of Australians.” Mr Brogden continued.
The injection of funds from the Victorian Government is particularly welcome now. While COVID-19 has increased demand for the service, it has simultaneously shut off the opportunity for Lifeline to raise revenue through its traditional channels.
“Last week, Lifeline Australia launched an emergency appeal to try to fill the gap left by COVID 19 due to the closure of our 250 retail stores and the cancellation of mental health community training programs, book fairs, fundraising dinners and other events.
The funding from the Victorian Government will make a significant contribution to ensuring our Victorian Centres remain viable. The support from the Victorian Government will assist Lifeline Crisis Supporters to be available to respond to calls, chats and text messages.
It will also assist the Lifeline centres across Victoria to provide on the ground support in rural, regional and metropolitan communities
However, we still have a hole in Lifeline’s funding that has been created by COVID-19. So, we are calling on any Australians who can, to please get behind Lifeline and give what you can, so Lifeline can continue to be here to answer the call of those who need us.” Mr Brogden said.
The support received from the community will be used to support Lifeline’s 40 centres around the nation to continue to provide suicide prevention services direct to the community.
“We have 40 centres, half of which are in rural and remote locations across the nation. They provide important mental health education, face to face counselling and therapeutic groups for people at-risk, or bereaved, by suicide. Our centres are directly supporting thousands of people in the community every day. It is crucial that we keep these services operating,” said Mr Brogden.
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 human connection is key. People should never underestimate the power they have to make a positive difference. Please find creative ways to use technology to work around the barriers to connection and reach out to those you feel may be struggling.”
“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.