THIS month alone, Lifeline expects to receive close to 4000 calls from Tasmanians in distress.
Each year on average, 45,000 Tasmanians phone 13 11 14, with these calls answered by dedicated and highly trained crisis support worker volunteers from around Australia.
Lifeline Tasmania chief executive officer Debbie Evans said Lifeline Tasmania currently had 66 telephone crisis support volunteers and had set a bold target of reaching 100 volunteers in the next 18 months.
However, Ms Evans said it was not as simple as just making a call for new volunteers and putting them onto the phones immediately.
“Our crisis support volunteers have to undergo more than 170 hours of training before they can become accredited,” she said.
“They go through a rigorous process including e-learning, workshops, role-playing, supervised shifts and assessments over a 12-month period.”
Eastern Shore resident Melissa* started volunteering with Lifeline Tasmania as a crisis support worker volunteer earlier this year.
“Now that my children are a little older, I felt like the timing was right to give back to the community,” she said.
Still working part-time, Melissa said she was fortunate that her workplace was supportive of her new commitment to take on the added hours out of work for training for Lifeline.
After completing the training, Melissa said that volunteering on the phones had become a part of her regular routine.
“It’s been easy for me to work around both my personal life and work life knowing that there are flexible shift options for me to volunteer my time,” she said.
“During this time, I have learnt that self-care and self-awareness have become really important to be able to maintain my role as a crisis supporter.
“I am no good as a mum, volunteer or worker if I do not ensure I make time for myself.”
Melissa said the experience and training had taught her a lot about herself and the way she interacted with members of the community.
She said volunteering was a two-way street.
“I feel like I have gained a lot of benefits, both personally and professionally, while being able to support and help seekers,” she said.
“The professional and personal support provided by the Lifeline Tasmania team is outstanding and I never feel alone in my time as a crisis supporter.
“While a volunteer role like a crisis supporter is not for everyone, I do encourage those people out there considering it to enquire – it just makes you a better person.”
2019 Semester 2 Crisis Support Training commences this month.
For more information about how to apply to become a crisis support worker volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Real name withheld for privacy.
Caption: Lifeline is on the lookout for locals to volunteer as a crisis support worker.