MY POLICY INITIATIVE
Lifeline Gippsland is an important part of Lifeline Australia’s 24-hour Telephone Crisis Support network. This vital service enables the Australian community to connect to professionally trained Crisis Support Workers – often in dire times and in need of significant support. The Lifeline Telephone Crisis Support service is staffed entirely by volunteers, who provide this essential service to the most vulnerable of our community. Often their callers are close to suicide, and may suffer substance abuse, domestic violence and from mental illnesses such as depression.
Lifeline Gippsland work hard to raise the funds necessary to deliver their crucial phone support. Their hardworking band of volunteers donate their time in operating several Op-Shops across Gippsland, offering bulk rag sales, running Book Fairs and Plant Sales. The organisation also provides Nationally Recognised training courses to corporate and community groups, on topics such as: Domestic Violence Response and Understanding Mental Health. These fundraising activities are very successful, but require a huge amount of work.
Sadly, a small portion of Lifeline Gippsland’s running costs are provided: only approximately 12% or $135,000 is currently covered by the Victorian State Government annually. Given the valuable service provided, and the huge amount of work involved in raising the necessary funds, I think this should be more – and so do the concerned community members I meet with.
In addition, Gippsland is an important area to engage in supportive conversations with vulnerable groups of men. Given my own personal challenges that have been well documented, I have subsequently been contacted by a number of local men who have found themselves in a position where they have become depressed due to circumstances in their lives. I propose the implementation of regular support group, that would provide an opportunity for a walk, a talk, a coffee – and an opportunity to share their experiences. Unfortunately many men find it difficult to talk about their problems, and this support group would help to facilitate a conversation whilst undertaking some exercise, which is so important for those who are feeling down. This initiative is all about getting men to open up about their problems, and link them into services that would assist their specific issue or issues.
I propose that the funding model for Lifeline be changed considerably, to include a doubling of State Government funding – increasing to $270 000 on an annual basis. With this investment, Lifeline Gippsland will be able to provide additional training to increase the number of Crisis Supporters who respond to 13 14 11 calls; fund the Connect Call Back Service, which provides ongoing phone support from trained Crisis Support Workers to people living in Gippsland facing a crisis and implement face to face peer support groups for our most vulnerable people”
I also propose the development of local Men’s support groups that would offer peer support, with the help of Lifeline and local gyms – given that exercise is such a valuable tool to tackle mental health.
Lifeline is a leader in Gippsland for the organisations suicide prevention and support of the community, at the most critical of times. They need more support for their vital services and my commitment is to fight for more funding for their important work.
The vision for Lifeline Gippsland is “An Australia Free of Suicide” (www.llg.org.au). Let’s get them support, so they can set about achieving it.