Lifeline, the country’s leading crisis support and suicide prevention organisation, is proud to be celebrating its 60th birthday today.
Lifeline was founded in Sydney on 16th March 1963, conceived after Rev Dr Sir Alan Walker OBE had taken a call from a distressed man who later took his own life. Determined not to let isolation and lack of support be the cause of more deaths, Sir Alan launched what was later to become the organisation’s 24/7 telephone crisis line, 13 11 14.
Lifeline’s crisis support phone line was the first of its kind in Australia. With roots in the Central Methodist Church and Wesley Mission, Lifeline took 100 calls on that first day, and the phone hasn't stopped ringing since, quickly expanding around Australia. The organisation has taken over 23 million calls to date.
Lifeline Hunter CEO Rob Sams said three years after the service started in Sydney, Reverend John Chegwidden woke to a distressed telephone call from a man wanting to know if there was a Lifeline service operating in the region. On May 7 1966 Lifeline Hunter moved into its first premises in Lawson Street Hamilton to start taking calls from people in crisis.
Lifeline Central Coast CEO Rob Sams said the local centre has played an important role in Lifeline’s history and development. Since it opened in Donnison Street, Gosford in March 1981 it too has expanded its services and support to the community.
“Our crisis support centre has 49 local volunteers taking calls to the 13 11 14 service every day of the year,” Mr Sams said.
“We also offer local suicide prevention and mental health support training, face-to-face and online counselling and other suicide prevention and bereavement support programs,” he said.
“Lifeline couldn’t do what it does, nationally and locally, without the support of its: selfless volunteers; sponsors; donors; community, government and business partners, and dedicated staff.”
He also volunteers as a crisis supporter, which he says is a privilege.
“We urgently need more crisis supporters and funding to train and support them so that we can continue to offer hope, compassion and connection to the increasing number of people looking to us for help.”
“If you can help or fund their training, please get in touch at lifelinehunter.org.au or 1300 152 854.
“With ongoing community support, we’ll be here for another 60 years.”
To mark the milestone, Lifeline will be hosting events celebrating the people who have made and continue to make significant contributions to the lives of so many, kicking off the celebrations with an exclusive screening of a new documentary in Sydney.
If you, or someone you know are feeling overwhelmed, we encourage you to connect with Lifeline in the way you feel most comfortable.
You can phone Lifeline to speak to a crisis supporter 24/7 on 13 11 14, text 0477 131 114 or chat at www.lifeline.org.au