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Your time will help others

Monday, 23rd March, 2009

A small donation of your time can have a massive impact on the lives of struggling Australians, according to Lifeline. Lifeline has launched its annual recruitment drive for telephone counsellors in the hope of improving services and easing the burden on the small number of volunteers. The service receives around 7,500 calls a year from all over Australia, and local Lifeline Manager, Richard Lines, says any help would be deeply appreciated.

"We take calls from everywhere, it could be Broome, it could be Tasmania, it could be Broken Hill," he said. "We have a dire shortage of trained telephone counsellors, and with the floods and the bushfires, calls are going through the roof.... We can't keep up with demand.

"It's not only the people who have suffered the trauma, it also brings back memories for a lot of people who have been through similar things in the past. It stirs up a lot of bad memories for a lot of people." Mr Lines said that many callers were simply in need of someone to talk to in times of trouble, but if this simple service isn't readily available things can take a turn for the worse."

If we don't have enough counsellors then people don't get the assistance they need, when they need it," he said. "That can result in suicide, family break ups, child abuse, domestic violence, alsoholism and a whole range of other issues." A free information night on telephone counselling will be held on April 7 at 7pm in the Lifeline Workshop at 194 Argent Lane. Lifeline would love to hear from anyone who is interested in becoming a telephone counsellor. The job can be particularly rewarding to those who are no longer working, or currently employed, Mr Lines said.

"The ones we're trying to appeal to in particular is the unemployed and the underemployed. Those recently redundant,' he said. "I do think of those 440 laid off from Perilya, 200 might have moved, there could be 240 out and there, and some of those could be blokes in their 50s and not looking for work - content to poke around. "If there's any people like that out there they can make a big difference. They have life experience and that's invaluable. All we're asking is three hours a week. "We don't ask about qualifications, we don't care if you've completed year twelve or year two. All we look for is a willingness to learn."

Volunteering as a telephone counsellor also provides an insight into life in the community service sector, and could open up avenues to employment, he said. "For someone who is considering a career change, it's an excellent way of finding out if counselling is a path you want to go down," he said. "We also offer an annual scholarship for a diploma of professional counselling the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors." Lifeline is also in discussions with other community groups to organise further scholarships, with a view to improving community services in the city.

Anyone seeking more information on Lifeline's telephone counselling service is invited to call the centre on 8087 7525.

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