nib and its foundation have combined to donate $500,000 to Lifeline to boost the text crisis counselling it provides young Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
The funding, which has been donated in the context of higher pandemic-driven demand for Lifeline services, will enable the organisation to substantially increase its capability during the current crisis. It will expand Australia’s first text-based crisis support and suicide prevention service, Lifeline Text.
The service was introduced in response to research that found 30 per cent of Australians prefer to access support via short-form messaging, such as text. It is accessed in higher rates by youth, those who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people living with a disability and the LGBTIQ+ community.
More than half of people seeking help via Lifeline Text are aged under 24 years old, while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make up 5.5 per cent of users, despite representing 2.8 per cent of the population. In addition, 40 per cent of users reported having a disability.
“We are extremely grateful to nib and nib foundation, their support comes at a crucial time for Lifeline. Australians are turning to Lifeline more than any other time in our 57-year history, with calls to Lifeline’s 13 11 14 crisis line at record levels throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The service has received almost 90,000 calls per month, since the COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions began,” said Lifeline Australia chairman, John Brogden.
“Lifeline Text helps complement our well-known phone service, but due to funding constraints we’d been limited to 80 Text crisis interventions per day, leaving a significant proportion of people vulnerable.
“We want every person to have the option to access our services if they need it, through the avenue that’s most comfortable for them. We’ll now be able to offer 10,000 additional crisis interventions on top of our other crisis support services and will train 60 new volunteer crisis supporters,” said Mr Brogden.
nib managing director, Mark Fitzgibbon, said the health insurer was proud to support the expansion of Lifeline Text.
“We know that COVID-19 is having a monumental impact on the mental health of our community placing additional pressure on our healthcare system as well as support services. We don’t want anyone facing their troubles alone which is why this support is needed now more than ever,” he said.
“Importantly, 42% of people we surveyed said they would not have sought help in any other way which is why it’s vitally important that we ensure Lifeline Text is as accessible as possible at this time, particularly as our country is going through great change and uncertainty,” continued Mr Brogden.
“As a health insurer, we believe its paramount to support critical services like Lifeline, so that every person, who is doing it a little tough at the moment, can seek the help they need in the way that best suits them,” added Mr Fitzgibbon.