800 calls the target

Taking your call: Alex Ferguson at Lifeline Central West said the new premises aim to increase their volunteer phone counsellors, thus answering 1000 calls. Photo: File.
Taking your call: Alex Ferguson at Lifeline Central West said the new premises aim to increase their volunteer phone counsellors, thus answering 1000 calls. Photo: File.

The new Lifeline Central West premises at Dubbo looks set to open within the next two weeks, with the organisation aiming to increase their volunteer phone counsellors to 50, thus answering 1000 calls from people across western NSW by the end of the calendar year.

Speaking with the Western Magazine on Tuesday, March 6, executive director at Lifeline Central West Alex Ferguson said they were just waiting on the phones to be connected before they open the doors.

Lifeline Central West will have to conduct two courses to achieve the 50 volunteer mark.

​“This new premises gives us a start to have a conversation with the community about mental health and self harm..,” Mr Ferguson said.

“With the increase in our telephone counsellors we hope to be doing by the end of the calendar year upwards of 800 to 1000 calls a month at Dubbo, which is pretty significant.”

Mr Ferguson said it needs to be significant because Lifeline Central West’s footprint is so widespread.

“Lifeline’s work territoriality includes Walgett, Bourke, Cobar, Condobolin, West Wyalong, Grenfell, Parkes and Forbes.. it’s a big slab of dirt,” he said.

“We know that statistically the further west you go the greater the problems in terms of mental health, suicide and domestic violence are.”

As well as modern and up-to-date equipment, the new location is also more central to the City’s CBD in Brisbane Street.

There will be new signage and paint work done too.

“Charities are like any other business and they employ people, work with people and train people. So unless we can provide good working, efficient and comfortable surroundings, we wont get the good people,” Mr Ferguson said.

Mr Ferguson said in any location of work there is a need to create a good work environment.

“...The need to have a light and airy surrounding is a lot about creating a pleasant and mental and social environment where although the conversations might be tough everything else is more than acceptable,” Mr Ferguson said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

There are currently two face-to-face Lifeline financial and gambling counsellors.

“And once we get a few physical things sorted out that’ll be increased to three,” Mr Ferguson said.

Training at the new premises will be held in May, and so far there are 9 people registered, but Mr Ferguson hopes that increases to about 15.

“If anyone is interested, male or female, or anyone of Aboriginal descent, we would very much welcome their call,” he said.

While Lifeline are involved in mental health, there’s a lot of stigma around the issue, he said.

“At Lifeline we much prefer people in trouble, no matter what it is, to get onto the phone  and have a chat about it and work out a plan,” Mr Ferguson said.

“A lot of people won’t admit that there’s something wrong with their head because it opens up a Pandora’s Box in terms of their own personal image or esteem.. so we just say please come along and we’ll work out what is and will help to get you the support you need.”