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Lifeline WA to launch pilot project for regional volunteers

19 May 2021

Lifeline WA is set to launch an innovative new pilot project, which will provide virtual training to volunteers in regional WA so they can answer calls to the national suicide crisis support line from their own homes.

Currently, all Lifeline WA volunteer telephone crisis supporters are trained at the Shenton Park centre and answer calls from a central hub in Perth.

Under the pilot project Lifeline WA Volunteer@Home, which is being funded by Lotterywest, 30 regional volunteers will be trained remotely in their homes, with the South West to be the first pilot area.

Lifeline WA CEO Lorna MacGregor said once they’d completed their training, the volunteers would answer calls to the 13 11 14 service using Lifeline Australia technology.

“Our crisis support service is a life-saving, essential service, so we had to ensure we would be there to answer calls, no matter what situation developed with COVID-19,” she said.

“During the pandemic, Lifeline introduced technology to enable our crisis supporters to answer calls from home, in the event they were no longer able to physically attend call centres.

“While in WA we were fortunate not to need this technology during COVID, it has opened up other opportunities, enabling volunteers in regional areas who are currently restricted by geography to join the Lifeline family.”

Ms MacGregor said Lifeline WA was committed to increasing its volunteer workforce to meet the unprecedented demand the service was facing, receiving approximately 60,000 calls from Western Australians in the last year.

She said opening up volunteering opportunities for people in the regions was an exciting step forward, which would bring in volunteers with different experiences and perspectives.

Lotterywest CEO Susan Hunt PSM said the Lifeline WA pilot project would deliver a positive impact for Western Australia.

“Lotterywest is proud to support these wonderful volunteers who will offer their time to helping people experiencing crisis. Thank you to Lifeline and its volunteers who make such a difference for so many,” she said.

Edith Cowan University will be using the Lifeline WA Volunteer@Home pilot project to conduct research to evaluate the success and safety of having telephone crisis supporters providing crisis support from their homes.

Lifeline WA is encouraging people in the South West region to sign up for the Telephone Crisis Supporter training and become a volunteer.

The intensive training will be delivered entirely remotely, starting in July 2021, and the course will run for 6-8 weeks. Contact Lifeline WA on tcsremote@lifelinewa.org.au or visit http://bttr.im/o7aon 

For 24/7 crisis support or suicide prevention services, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifelinewa.org.au 

After the South West network is established, Lifeline WA hopes to extend the pilot to Albany and the Pilbara.

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