Overwhelming response to Lifeline WA's call for more volunteers

4 August 2023

West Aussies have done themselves proud, stepping up in their droves after Lifeline WA put out an urgent request for volunteers.

More than 1,000 people have put up their hand to become a crisis support worker since the not-for-profit issued its mayday call just two months ago.

Lifeline WA CEO Lorna MacGregor says the overwhelming response has been humbling.

“It’s been amazing to see so many people answer our call for help, offering to volunteer their time to help those in need,” Ms MacGregor said.

But the rush to volunteer doesn’t mean the crisis support service is out of the woods yet, with the latest figures showing just how real the need for support is.

Crisis supporters at Lifeline WA handled almost 98,000 conversations last financial year with more people than ever before reaching out to its highly trained volunteer team for help.

The staggering figure represents a 49 per cent increase on the previous year.

For the first time, the number of conversations was an even split between traditional telephone calls and text/web chat.

While Lifeline WA’s new call centre in Subiaco is now one of the largest Lifeline call centres in the country, its increased capacity, combined with the higher-than-ever call rates, means the need for more volunteers – and donations to help train them – had become critical.

In a bid to boost its call centre Lifeline WA looked closely at what motivates people to give up their time to help others.

It’s latest recruitment campaign, Connect, Grow, Give Back, is an invitation to change your life by saving someone else’s.

“Today’s volunteers want to learn new skills, connect with likeminded individuals, and have access to continuous professional development and potential career opportunities – all of which come with being a Lifeline WA volunteer,” Ms MacGregor said.

There is also a distinction between those looking for “in-person” volunteering opportunities and those looking for “online volunteering”.

“Training to become a Lifeline volunteer is not simply a chance to give back by helping someone in their darkest hour of need, it’s also an opportunity to learn amazing life skills and discover things about yourself that you didn’t know,” Ms MacGregor said.

With dwindling volunteer numbers a challenge for organisations across the board in recent years, Lifeline WA is delighted its campaign is reviving interest in volunteering.

According to Volunteering Australia’s Key Volunteering Statistics February 2022, the number of people aged over 18 volunteering through an organisation dropped from 36.2 per cent in 2010 to 28.8 per cent in 2019.

In late 2019, the proportion of adult Australians engaging in formal voluntary work was 36 per cent, falling to 24.2 per cent in April 2021.

Demand for crisis support services, however, shows no sign of easing.

“All the signs are that demand for our crisis support services will only grow into the foreseeable future, with no indications that call volumes will ever return to pre-pandemic levels,” Ms MacGregor said.

Lifeline WA’s confidential crisis support services are available 24/7, every day of the year.

Telephone Crisis Supporters undergo 170 hours of training over a 12-month period. Digital Crisis Supporters undergo 50 hours of training over a 12-week period.

“As our recruitment campaign continues over the coming months, we’re looking forward to more people expressing their interest in volunteering with us,” Ms MacGregor said.

To find out more visit: wa.lifeline.org.au/get-involved.

Lifeline’s 24/7 telephone crisis support service is available on 13 11 14 text 0477 13 11 14, online chat lifeline.org.au/crisis-chat

Media contact:

Carla Sherman, The PR Collaborative, carla@theprcollaborative.com.au 0418 140 220