Record demand for Lifeline from Western Australians in 2020/21

5 July 2021

More West Australians needed help for a range of life’s challenges in the 2020/21 financial year than ever and a record number turned to Lifeline WA’s telephone crisis support service to find it.

There were 64,280 calls to Lifeline’s 13 11 14 service from West Australians in 2020/21, an increase of more than 21 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Lifeline WA CEO Lorna MacGregor said it was encouraging to see more people seeking help in times of crisis.

“Western Australia experienced a number of natural disasters and lockdowns in this period of time, which we know can exacerbate mental health issues,” Ms MacGregor said.

“It’s reassuring that when people were feeling overwhelmed, they turned to Lifeline  for support.”

To meet the rising demand, Lifeline WA trained a record number of telephone crisis supporters, bringing in 105 new volunteers, all of whom were trained remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions.

For the first time in its history, Lifeline WA consistently had more than 200 active crisis supporters answering calls.

Ms MacGregor said the record number of volunteers was a sign of increased awareness of the importance of mental health.

“The isolation and loneliness caused by the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of mental health and it was inspiring to see people respond to that by volunteering to make a difference,” she said.

In addition to the new recruits, Ms MacGregor said existing volunteers gave up more of their time to meet increased demand.

“Our crisis supporters contributed a total of 20,175 hours last financial year – the most we have ever seen,” she said.

To keep that number increasing, Lifeline WA, with support from Lotterywest has also launched a trial to recruit and train supporters from the South West region.

“We learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that we could train telephone crisis supporters remotely, which allowed us to offer training beyond the Perth metropolitan region for the first time,” Ms MacGregor said.

“It’s still early days, but we hope to someday have telephone crisis supporters answering calls from across Western Australia.”