Lifeline opens first crisis call centre in Melbourne’s west on Victoria University campus

VU, Lifeline and community representatives welcome the opening of new crisis call centre on St Albans Campus with Lifeline Western Melbourne
VU and Lifeline today officially welcomed the opening of a crisis support service on VU's St Albans Campus.
Tuesday 6 June 2023

Lifeline will soon begin taking calls at its first crisis support and suicide prevention centre in Melbourne’s west, located on Victoria University’s (VU) St Albans Campus.

Lifeline and VU recently signed a five-year partnership to establish Lifeline Western Melbourne, the first Lifeline Crisis Call Centre in the state to operate from a university campus.

General Manager Jason Doherty said there is identified need for a  support service in the region. Since COVID, Melbourne’s west and north have experienced a 35% surge in demand from residents facing emotional distress or battling cost-of-living pressures.

Several volunteers have completed their initial training and are ready to take live supervised calls on 13 11 14 as part of a 12-month internship to become an accredited crisis supporter. The service aims to have 40 crisis support volunteers answering calls at the centre by the end of its first year.

Partnership will provide real-life learning opportunities for students

Longer term, the partnership between VU and Lifeline will provide real-world placements and other opportunities for VU students taking courses in areas such as youth work, psychology, counselling, community services or social work to train as Lifeline crisis support volunteers. VU researchers will also be able to collaborate with the Lifeline Research Foundation

Mr Doherty said it was important that Lifeline crisis supporters came from all walks-of-life, age groups, and cultural backgrounds – and included students and young people.

Crisis supporters do not need to have experience in counselling as we provide extensive training and support to help empathic people be there for others – to listen and offer hope.

Lifeline crisis supporter training is done online over eight to ten weeks with other trainees before the internship stage commences at the centre. A trained crisis supporter commits to a minimum four-hour shift per fortnight. There is flexibility in both training times and volunteering rosters.

The new centre on VU’s St Albans Campus will add to the other 41 Lifeline centres nationally, from where more than 4000 crisis supporters respond to around one million calls annually – equalling one call every 30 seconds.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker said VU was honoured to support Lifeline’s critically important work.

By partnering with Lifeline Western Melbourne, we are helping to provide crucial services our region needs. We want to be part of a solution that ensures our communities do not face their most serious challenges alone. That is where the Crisis Call Centre comes in – and we couldn’t be prouder to host it at our St Albans Campus.

As an additional part of its Lifeline partnership, VU is also proud to offer its students access to University Crisis Line, a specialised Lifeline mental health service for students that is available when VU’s other support services are closed.

Lifeline will hold an online information session on Monday 3 July for anyone interested in training as a crisis support volunteer at Lifeline Western Melbourne. Register on the Lifeline Western Melbourne website.

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Ann Marie Angebrandt

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