Lifeline WA helping record numbers of people in crisis in lead up to Christmas

12 December 2022

Lifeline WA said it was answering record numbers of contacts from people in distress in the lead up to Christmas, with November the busiest month in the organisation’s history.

In November, Lifeline WA answered 8,647 calls, texts and web chats from people in crisis. This compared to 5,183 calls in November last year, which is an increase of 66 per cent.

Lifeline WA Chief Operations Officer Natalie Martinovich said the huge demand for the organisation’s services was indicative of a high level of distress in the community.

“There are a range of factors we believe are contributing to the increase in calls, including ongoing COVID anxiety and natural disasters in the eastern states,” she said.

“However, we are now receiving a lot more calls from people who are in financial distress, who are very concerned about the rising cost of living and some who are facing the threat of becoming homeless.”

Ms Martinovich said the lead up to Christmas was always a very busy time for Lifeline, with the extra cost of living pressures exacerbating the situation.

“We find people are often very stressed in the lead up to Christmas, with financial pressures and the challenges of spending time with family members where there may be fractured relationships,” she said.

“We also unfortunately see the outcome of this pressure leads to more calls regarding domestic violence.

“For other people, loneliness is felt more keenly at this time of year and people can feel very isolated so they turn to us for support.”

Ms Martinovich said the increase in demand was also coming at a time when several crisis centres in the eastern states were heavily impacted due to flooding, putting more pressure on the remaining centres around the country to take more calls.

Ms Martinovich said Lifeline WA was doing its best to meet the increased demand for its services but needed more volunteers.

She said the WA centre, which is the biggest in the country, was already contributing the second highest number of volunteer hours nationally, but wanted to do more.

“We have set an ambitious goal of doubling the size of our crisis support volunteer workforce next year and are aiming to train an extra 300 volunteers to answer calls, text and chat,” she said.

“But it costs up to $4,000 to train each of those volunteers so we are hoping the WA community will support us by making a donation to our Lights for Lifeline WA Christmas appeal.

“We want to be able to answer every call for help, and we are grateful for the support from the community and our corporate partners to do that.”

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Lifeline’s 24/7 telephone crisis support service is available on 13 11 14.