Lifeline WA Record Number of Calls
02 JUL 2020
In a year marked by unprecedented challenges, Lifeline WA’s telephone crisis support service in Perth answered a record number of calls for help.
Lifeline WA volunteers answered 33,879 calls in the 2019/20 financial year, a 13.6% increase on the previous record set the year before.
Lifeline WA CEO Lorna MacGregor said the organisation had increased the capacity of its crisis call centre, enabling more calls to be answered.
“Our service has never been more important, with COVID-19 and the eastern states bushfires particularly impacting the mental health of many Australians,” she said.
“Being able to answer a record number of calls in this environment is a testament to the determination and selflessness of our volunteers.
“However, despite our enormous effort, we were still not able to answer every call, with more than 50,000 West Australians calling the national 13 11 14 service every year.”
Ms MacGregor said the service saw a significant spike in calls at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In March and April, we answered 50% more calls compared to the same time last year,” she said.
“Many people needed extra support to deal with the loneliness and anxiety associated with isolation, particularly those with existing mental health issues.”
Despite suspending the delivery of workshops due to COVID, Lifeline WA was able to deliver 153 workshops across the state and train 2,110 participants (a 7% increase on the previous financial year).
Lifeline WA was also able to increase the number of people who received counselling support in the past financial year from 616 to 713, a 15% increase.
Ms MacGregor said Lifeline WA was hoping to answer even more calls in the new financial year by training more telephone crisis supporters at its new training centre in Shenton Park.
“The mental health impacts of the pandemic will extend into the future and we are committed to being there for more people than ever,” she said.
“The new training facility will be specifically designed to support the training needs of our volunteer crisis supporters.”
The use of the Shenton Park premises for the new training centre was donated by the United Church in the City, and is being refurbished through a Lotterywest grant and pro-bono support from local businesses.
The renovation is expected to be completed by mid-July.