10,000 inquiries to Lifeline last year

LIFELINE calls in Albury-Wodonga have more than doubled in five years.

The organisation’s counselling service received 10,000 inquiries last year.

The royal commission into child sexual abuse had generated many of the calls, Lifeline’s Border general manager Chris Pidd said.

“There are more and more people ringing Lifeline and there’s a number of reasons for it,” he said.

“The media is fantastic in publicising the service, with the mention at the end of articles that if you are in trouble call Lifeline — you saw that with Ian Thorpe mentioned on 7.30 on television.

“The royal commission into child abuse has also had quite an impact.

“Every time there is a report on that we see a bounce in the number of calls coming to Lifeline — there’s a direct correlation between those type of events.

“And every time there is a flood or bushfire, there is a bounce — not necessarily from people in the flood but those who have experienced floods.”

To help meet the extra demand, more volunteers are being sought with Lifeline holding an information session this Saturday.

“We have about 70 volunteers on the phone support crisis team and, of that, we have 40 to 50 who are active at any one time,” Mr Pidd said.

“That can change because there’s a natural attrition rate, life changes or they’ve done three years and they’re looking for other challenges as volunteers.”

Mr Pidd said more calls were able to be taken because up to three volunteers could work on a shift, compared with only one in previous years.

Better training was also allowing problems to be identified and tackled sooner.

“Better supervision and better monitoring means we answer calls in a far better way,” Mr Pidd said.

The length of calls can range from 30 seconds with a quick referral to an hour with a more complex matter.

Those interested in volunteering can register at lifelinealburywodonga.org.au.

Mr Pidd said the greatest quality required was empathy.

“We get a range of people — we’ve got young people, students, some who are teachers, nurses and accountants,” Mr Pidd said.

“They come from all sorts of backgrounds and it really comes down to the ability to empathise, to put their own self aside and listen to people.”

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