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LIFELINE MEDIA ALERT  MND WARRIOR JODIE BELL IS LIFELINE 2016 STEEL MAGNOLIA

What: Lifeline 2016 Newcastle and Lower Hunter Steel Magnolia Award winner announced
When: July 29, 2016 – event starts at 6:45pm 
Where: Newcastle City Hall  

A ‘Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Warrior’ has been named the Lifeline Steel Magnolia for 2016. Jodie Bell was announced as the winner of the prestigious award at a sold out gala event at Newcastle City Hall on Friday night (July 29).    

Ms Bell, from Jewels, was diagnosed with MND in 2014 at the age of 32. She has been given between two and a half and five years to live. When presenting the award Lifeline Hunter Central Coast CEO Gillian Summers said Ms Bell is relentless in raising awareness and funds for MND to help find that elusive treatment and cure. She said Ms Bell was an unsung community hero who, despite adversity, has found the courage to give back to the community. “The spirit Jodie shows embodies a Steel Magnolia,” Ms Summers said.  

Ms Bell was selected from 14 nominees by an independent judging panel for Lifeline. At the event, six other finalists were named. Diane Ball (Raymond Terrace) Carolyn Bear (Valentine) Carmel Kaczmar (East Maitland) Mary Maughan (Newcastle) Corey Newman (Charlestown) Teigan Power (Lambton) Of those finalists, Teigan Power and Corey Newman received special mentions. “All of this year’s nominees are inspirational and must to be congratulated and honoured for their contribution to the region,” Ms Summers said.  

At the event  Channel 10 presenter, journalist, author and mental health advocate Jessica Rowe AM gave an key note speech on the importance of mental well being and self-care. NBN Television news presenter Natasha Beyersdorf emceed the event.    

Ms Summers said the awards raised $25,000 to fund Lifeline’s local life saving crisis support and suicide prevention services thanks to the generous support of major sponsor the Port of Newcastle, the Noble Group and other volunteers. Suicide rates are at a 13 year high in Australia. More than 2,500 Australians die by suicide each year, double the national road toll. Lifeline Hunter and Central Coast estimates it saves the lives of 5,000 local people each year through its crisis support and suicide prevention services but relies on community support for more than 55 per cent of its funding.  

Anyone in crisis can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24/7) or chat online at lifeline.org.au/crisischat 7pm-4am.   


Suicide rates the highest for LGBTI community 

Gillian Summers  
June 15, 2016, 7:30 p.m.

Research shows LGBTI people have the highest rates of suicidality in Australia. The horror of the Orlando shootings is being felt across our community. 

The fact that the shooting occurred inside a gay nightclub means it is particularly being felt by our lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex (LGBTI) community. Lifeline wants LGBTI people to know that there’s support for them if they’re distressed by this tragedy or it raises issues for them. As my team prepared to help those who may be distressed, it started a conversation about being more inclusive of and sensitive to LGBTI community members.

A conversation we need to have more often than we do.   Suicide rates are already a national emergency. More than double the number of people die by suicide than are killed on our roads. Research shows LGBTI people have the highest rates of suicidality in Australia. Same-sex attracted Australians have up to 14 times higher rates of suicide attempts than their heterosexual peers.  

Rates are six times higher for same-sex attracted young people. Discrimination and exclusion are the key causal factors of LGBTI mental ill-health and suicidality. So there’s plenty we can all do to reduce these rates.

Recent initiatives by organisations such as BeyondBlue, Headspace and the National LGBTI Health Alliance is leading to better research and information on issues being faced by this community.  Lifeline counsellors are trained to be aware of and sensitive to issues faced by LGBTI community members but there’s more we can do.  

There is no doubt more we can all do as citizens and employers. We can start by never making assumptions about people’s sexual orientation or what this means to them. We can build specific LGBTI knowledge, diversity and use gender neutral language. We can be more tolerant and inclusive. 

Gillian Summers is CEO of Lifeline Hunter Central Coast. If this article causes you distress, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.


Lifeline Hunter Central Coast Media alert 

Friday May 26, 2016
What: Opening of Lifeline’s Fashion and Homeware Concept Store in Wyong - first for Central Coast.
When: Monday May 30 at 10am
Where:  Chapman Building, 14 Alison Rd Wyong 

Lifeline Hunter Central Coast will open the doors to its first ever fashion and homewares concept store  in Wyong on May 30. Helping to unveil the new store at a special morning tea is Yvie Jones, Coast resident and Logie Award winning cast member of the Network 10 series Gogglebox. 

Retail operations manager Jason Fox says Lifeline is relocating its Howarth Street store to the heart of Wyong in Alison Road for a more convenient and better shopping experience. Mr Fox said the recently restored 115 yr old heritage Chapman building was a beautiful location for a retail store. The building was first used as a retail store. He said in a first for Lifeline Hunter Central Coast and any other charity store on the Coast, the new store will focus on women’s fashion and homewares. “Our data shows that the old method of cramming a store full and selling everything doesn’t work,” Mr Fox said. “The prices haven’t changed, we are just providing people an even higher quality shopping experience,” he said. “You will be surprised what you find at a Lifeline store – we have a great range of on trend fashion and homewares at very affordable prices. “So you will look great and know that all your money is going to support Lifeline’s local crisis support and suicide prevention services.” “We’re turning “op shop” or “charity shop” shopping on its head.” 

At the morning tea, Lifeline will also be launching a new local fundraising and workplace giving initiative, 84amate, designed to help it to raise more much needed funds. “With suicide rates at a 13 year high our services are needed more than ever to help local people.” 

Lifeline has had a store in Wyong for 25 years. It also has stores in Woy Woy and Wyoming. It has recently introduced another first - a frequent shopper discount card for customers. 

Lifeline Hunter Central Coast provides telephone crisis support and other suicide prevention services such as face to face counselling and training. It estimates it saves 5,000 lives every year. It relies on community support for 55% of its funding. For more information about local services or Lifeline shops visit www.lifelinecc.org.au 

If this story raises issues for you call LIFELINE on 13 11 14 any time. 


Lifeline Releases Statistics showing half the calls received are from people who live alone. 

May 4, 2016

Over half the calls made to Lifeline Australia’s crisis line come from people who live alone, new analysis shows. 

Lifeline Hunter Central Coast CEO Gillian Summers said the new analysis would allow Lifeline to gain a better understanding of its callers. “We are trying to work out who we’re talking to and what their issues are,” she said. The charity organisation made the findings recently after a change to the way it records caller data, while keeping personal information remains anonymous. Ms Summers said she was alarmed when she heard how many of the calls were coming from people who lived alone. “I think that’s pretty earth-shattering,” she said. “We live in this fast-paced digital world where people are connected.  “But unless people feel like they belong and are cared about, it can be very tough.” She said smaller country towns where people were isolated - including those around Maitland - were a concern, but that people could help. “If we’re going to change as a community, we all need to look at our behaviour,” she said.  She said a smile, a wave or a phone call could be all it took to make someone feel like they belong. 

 For crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visitwww.lifeline.org.au/gethelp. 

 Key quarterly data (1 Jan – 31 March): 60 per cent of callers to 13 11 14 were female; 39 per cent male; 1 per cent intersex The top three categories of crisis calls were family and relationships (24 per cent), mental health (18 per cent) and issues pertaining to ‘self’ (18 per cent) Ages of callers: Under 18 years: 1 per cent 18-24 years: 8 per cent 25-44 years: 35 per cent 45-65 years: 42 per cent Over 65 years: 14 per cent Living arrangements: Alone: 56 per cent Children only: 7 per cent Flatmate or co-tenant: 6 per cent Parents: 8 per cent Friend: 1 per cent Spouse of partner: 16 per cent Other: 6 per cent.   

LIFELINE LAUNCHES hunter’s first ‘ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS’ designer depot THIS WEEKEND

What: Lifeline Hunter Central Coast’s pop-up designer fashion depot opens this weekend  
When: Saturday and Sunday from 10am til 3pm – First depot is on Saturday May 7  
Where: Lifeline Hamilton North store grounds at 50 Clyde Street  

Lifeline Hunter Central Coast says it is looking to fill a gap in the second hand designer clothing market and raise urgently needed funds to help save local people’s lives with the launch this weekend of its Designer Depot.

Lifeline Hunter Central Coast Manager Retail Operations Jason Fox said the weekend pop up store will see local people given a space from which to sell their designer clothing. Space in the store is free but sellers will give

Lifeline a donation, depending upon their sales.  “This is a first for Newcastle and the Hunter,” Mr Fox said.  “It helps people who are looking for low cost, high end fashion as well as people who no longer have a need for their designer clothes,” he said.  “We are keeping the concept fairly loose to test the concept and hope it will become a regular in Newcastle’s shopping scene.  “Our Designer Depot will be ‘absolutely fabulous’ for local people into fashion and it will also help save the lives of other local people.”  

The Designer Dept is being launched on Lifeline Hunter and Central Coast’s 50th anniversary (May 7). It will be located along side the popular Lifeline bookshop, another first for the region.  

Mr Fox said Lifeline already has sellers of a huge range of female designer fashions for the store, priced between 10 and 30 per cent of the original retail price (ie 70 to 90 per cent discount). Some clothing has never been worn. Designers include: Ralph Lauren Black Label Polo Ralph Lauren Moschino Burberry Lisa Ho Charley Brown Country Road Saba Perri Cutten.  

Suicide rates are at a 13 year high in Australia. More than 2,500 Australians die by suicide each year, double the national road toll. Lifeline Hunter and Central Coast estimates it saves the lives of 5,000 local people each year through its crisis support and suicide prevention services but relies on community support for more than 55 per cent of its funding.  

People wishing to sell their designer clothing should contact Lifeline’s Hamilton North retail store on 4940 2070 beforehand. For more information on local Lifeline services or to donate go to www.lifelinehunter.org.au. or call 4940 2000.  Anyone in crisis can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24/7) or chat online at lifeline.org.au/crisischat 7pm-4am.

Mellie Owen reaches out for you MELINDA MCMILLAN 

April 19, 2016

Newcastle singer and songwriter Mellie Owen has released her debut single Reach Out For You to help people suffering from mental illness.  

SURVIVOR: Mellie Owen has released her debut single Reach Out for You. 

Grateful for Interuption, written by Owen and produced by Matt Fell of Love Hz studios, Reach Out for You is an uplifting pop song with a clear message about asking for help in a time of crisis.   

Owen said after suffering years of clinical depression she wanted to give back to the organisation which helped her in her time of crisis. 

Fifty per cent of profits from the single will go to Lifeline Hunter Central Coast. “Lifeline was there for me when I felt too ashamed to ask for help from anyone else,” Owen said.   

Reach Out for You incorporates powerful lyrics with a catchy melody. The music video was produced by indie film makers Harlow Films and dance choreographer Jenna Drelincourt, with Owen’s husband Shaun filling the role of executive producer, manager and financier for both the song and the video clip.  The music video involved a cast of about 15 actors and dancers portray how it feels to suffer mental illness and the impact it has on one's life.   

"The song really is about finding light in the darkness—knowing you're not alone in depression and reaching out to be heard in your time of crisis,” said Owen.  "The opening lyric 'I'm caught up in the storm, pretend like nothing's wrong' is written about how we tend to feel ashamed when we suffer from a mental illness and how it feels like we are trapped in chaos. “Yet we continue to feel like we have to play a normal part in society: go to work, participate in life like we are totally okay and nothing is happening behind the facade we are projecting to the outside world. Reach Out for You is my message to let people know you can survive mental illness and there are people and organisations such as Lifeline who are there to help you through.  “I hope people in need of help hear my song and feel validated, understood and feel like they can reach out."  

The story Mellie Owen reaches out for you first appeared on The Star. 


Lifeline launches new campaign to fund suicide prevention services | video

Helen Gregory April 20, 2016

DENNIS Johnson does not say one word in Lifeline Hunter Central Coast’s moving new campaign video. Instead, his eyes, full of emotion, bore into the camera, as viewers read that his wife, son and nephew all died by suicide over a 20 year period. “I’m not really used to being in the limelight,” said Mr Johnson, a retired builder in his 70s from Redhead. “But I think this is important. If it helps just one person – that’s so important.” 

Mr Johnson has bravely shared his story as part of the organisation’s 84amate campaign. It urges Hunter residents to donate $8 each month to help run the local 24-hour telephone crisis line, as well as suicide prevention services including face-to-face counselling and training. Mr Johnson said he was introduced to the organisation soon after his world was turned upside down for a third time in December 2010.  

The youngest of his two sons, Carl, died by suicide that month at the age of 38, just over 14 years after Mr Johnson’s wife Sophie took her life at the age of 49. The family had previously spoken only once about suicide, after Mr Johnson’s nephew ended his life in his mid 20s during the 1980s. “The funeral director knew I was in trouble and got me in touch with Lifeline,” Mr Johnson said. “We struggled. I did not want to to get out of bed for a year, I virtually did nothing. “But I did join the Newcastle Survivors of Suicide (SOS) Group and at the end of the first year I started volunteering, in the Lifeline shop at Hamilton, for Meals on Wheels and Hunter Life Education. “That’s what my life is about now – if I can help someone, I do.” 

Mr Johnson volunteers two days a week at the Lifeline shop at Cardiff, which sells donated items to support the organisation’s suicide prevention work. “The people I work with give me a sense of worth, they appreciate what I do and the whole experience has been very helpful,” he said. “It gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.” Mr Johnson said exercising, speaking to friends and envisaging a cottage in the country filled with simple pleasures, like his favourite tools, has also helped. 

 He is an enthusiastic advocate for more frontline mental health and suicide prevention services, as well as about the value of support for bereaved family members. “If you’ve been through what I’ve been through, it either kills you or makes you stronger,” he said. “When you’re going through tough times, you either go down or up – and I’ve got a goal to live to 100.” Lifeline 13 11 14 lifeline.org.au  MensLine Australia 1300 789 978 mensline.org.au 


ACTION TO COMBAT 13 -YEAR HIGH AUSTRALIA’s 

Suicide rate is at a 13 year high, underlining the need for more preventative services for people at risk of self-harm. 

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released last month showed suicide was the leading cause of premature mortality and occurred at a rate of 12 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014, the highest rate recorded since 2001. 

Lifeline Australia chairman John Brogden has called for suicide to be declared a national emergency and for Commonwealth, state and territory governments to implement and fund a national suicide strategy. 

Lifeline Hunter Central Coast chairman Gary Webb said campaigns such as the new 84amate helped the local service to continue its vital work and prevent deaths. He said it touched more than 25,000 people in crisis each year and saved the lives of more than 5000 people contemplating suicide. “Lifeline is always there to listen, help and let people know the future can be brighter,” he said. 

Lifeline 13 11 14  |  Beyondblue 1300 224 636  |  Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800  |  MensLine Australia 1300 789 978 


Hunter Leader | Gary Webb   

Gary Webb is a well-known leader in the Hunter business community. He was the CEO and Director of Newcastle Port Corporation from 2004 to 2013. 

These days he is consulting and using his expertise on the boards of several organisations. Gary is the Chairman of Lifeline Hunter Central Coast, as well as a Board member of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and a Director of the Hunter Research Foundation and the Hunter TAFE Foundation. A Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, he’s also served as a Chairman of Ports Australia and Newcastle Seafarers Centre Limited and was a Director of the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator.   

Gary is also known for giving his time to support the Hunter community. He is a Member of the University of Newcastle’s Vice-Chancellor’s Leaders’ Forum and he was a member of the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Translational Neuroscience & Mental Health Advisory Board. In 2008 Gary was named as Newcastle City Council’s Australia Day Citizen of the Year Gary Webb is a well-known leader in the Hunter business community. He was the CEO and Director of Newcastle Port Corporation from 2004 to 2013. These days he is consulting and using his expertise on the boards of several organisations. 

Gary is the Chairman of Lifeline Hunter Central Coast, as well as a Board member of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and a Director of the Hunter Research Foundation and the Hunter TAFE Foundation. A Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, he’s also served as a Chairman of Ports Australia and Newcastle Seafarers Centre Limited and was a Director of the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator.   

Gary is also known for giving his time to support the Hunter community. He is a Member of the University of Newcastle’s Vice-Chancellor’s Leaders’ Forum and he was a member of the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Translational Neuroscience & Mental Health Advisory Board. In 2008 Gary was named as Newcastle City Council’s Australia Day Citizen of the Year.

What makes a good leader? A good leader equips and empowers the people of an organisation to deliver the best imaginable customer experience. A good leader is passionate, fair, inspiring, participative, challenging and decisive. 

What is a key issue facing leaders of not-for-profit organisations in the Hunter? Maintaining or increasing income, while delivering high-quality, efficient and innovative services, continues to be a key issue for NFPs in the Hunter. You have moved from being a CEO to being a Board member. 

How can Boards contribute to organisations? The Australian Institute of Company Directors Good Governance Principles and Guidance for Not-for-Profit Organisations says it well. ‘Effective governance structures allow organisations to create value, through innovation, development and exploration, and provide accountability and control systems commensurate with the risks involved.’ A Board provides support for the organisation and great links to the community. Governments, donors, stakeholders, community and business take comfort from an experienced NFP Board overseeing an organisation. 

How can local leaders help not-for-profits such as Lifeline? Local leaders currently help NFPs through their sponsorship, attendance at events, encouraging employees to volunteer and/or be mentors in programs and allowing employees to choose a charity to support through a workplace giving program.  

Other ways local leaders can help NFPs could be by allowing employees to undertake external reviews of NFPs’ systems, policies and procedures and supporting employees to mentor passionate, talented and committed NFP employees. What local businesspeople inspire you? During 2009, the leaders of the coal companies, coal terminals and Hunter Valley Coal Chain service providers negotiated a major restructure of the contractual arrangements for the movement of coal through the Hunter Valley and Gunnedah Basin. The ability of these leaders to negotiate the only agreement of its kind in the world is inspiring. It is an example of business leaders negotiating and collaborating over a long period of time to deliver a significantly better outcome. These leaders considered the interests of their organisations but were also able to work together to consider the bigger picture.   

What makes a good leader? A good leader equips and empowers the people of an organisation to deliver the best imaginable customer experience. A good leader is passionate, fair, inspiring, participative, challenging and decisive. 

What is a key issue facing leaders of not-for-profit organisations in the Hunter? Maintaining or increasing income, while delivering high-quality, efficient and innovative services, continues to be a key issue for NFPs in the Hunter. You have moved from being a CEO to being a Board member. How can Boards contribute to organisations? The Australian Institute of Company Directors Good Governance Principles and Guidance for Not-for-Profit Organisations says it well. ‘Effective governance structures allow organisations to create value, through innovation, development and exploration, and provide accountability and control systems commensurate with the risks involved.’ A Board provides support for the organisation and great links to the community. Governments, donors, stakeholders, community and business take comfort from an experienced NFP Board overseeing an organisation. How can local leaders help not-for-profits such as Lifeline? Local leaders currently help NFPs through their sponsorship, attendance at events, encouraging employees to volunteer and/or be mentors in programs and allowing employees to choose a charity to support through a workplace giving program.  Other ways local leaders can help NFPs could be by allowing employees to undertake external reviews of NFPs’ systems, policies and procedures and supporting employees to mentor passionate, talented and committed NFP employees. 

What local businesspeople inspire you? During 2009, the leaders of the coal companies, coal terminals and Hunter Valley Coal Chain service providers negotiated a major restructure of the contractual arrangements for the movement of coal through the Hunter Valley and Gunnedah Basin. The ability of these leaders to negotiate the only agreement of its kind in the world is inspiring. It is an example of business leaders negotiating and collaborating over a long period of time to deliver a significantly better outcome. These leaders considered the interests of their organisations but were also able to work together to consider the bigger picture.   

Company Snapshot Lifeline Hunter Central Coast Lifeline was founded by the Reverend Alan Walker at Methodist Central Mission in Sydney in 1963. Since then, Lifeline services have been established around Australia and in many parts of the world. Its vision is an Australia free of suicide. Twice as many Australians die by suicide each year than people killed on our roads. 

Lifeline Hunter Central Coast began in 1966 when Reverend John Chegwidden was awakened by a distressed telephone call from a man wanting to know if there was a Lifeline service operating in the region. 

Over its 50 year history it has expanded its services beyond traditional telephone 24/7 crisis support to also provide suicide prevention services including training and face to face counselling. It also operates nine charity shops in the Hunter. Lifeline Hunter Central Coast estimates its staff and volunteers save more than 5,000 local lives annually. It relies on local community support for 85% of its funding.     


Lifeline partners with Compass Housing to tackle suicide hot spots in Newcastle.

Newcastle based Compass Housing has partnered with Lifeline to deliver mental health, first aid and suicide prevention courses for tenants living in high density social housing, boarding houses and specialist homelessness accommodation. 

Compass General Manager of Operations NSW Lisa Tierney said the course would empower residents to recognise the early warning signs of mental illness or suicide and teach them how to connect themselves and their neighbours with the right kind of help. “Following a recent suicide in a men’s boarding house, a number of residents spoke of the feeling of helplessness they experienced watching their friend and neighbour struggle to deal with his demons,” Ms Tierney said. 

 “As well as helping people identify the symptoms and early warning signs, this partnership with Lifeline will foster understanding and empathy for people dealing with mental illness and encourage friends and neighbours to reach out when they see someone at-risk.” Lifeline Australia CEO Pete Shmigel said Lifeline was delighted to join forces with Compass to offer suicide awareness training for those at risk. “If you can recognise the signs in someone at risk of suicide you can check if they are OK. 

We see potential for this training to be rolled out across Compass social housing nationally,” he said. Lifeline will run the two day courses over the next few months for residents living in Compass managed transitional housing in Mayfield, Islington and Waratah. 


Artists seek families to start talking about suicide                   

Hunter artists are calling on local people that have lost a loved one to suicide to work with them on a special project designed to help them as well as save other people’s lives.  

stART talking is a project that sees an artist work with a family to paint a portrait of their loved one for them to keep. The portrait is sponsored and put on exhibition to help generate community awareness of suicide and its prevention as well as raise vital funds for Lifeline Hunter and Central Coast’s suicide prevention services.  

The project was developed in 2013 by Hunter portrait artist and real estate agent Kathie Bowtell who lost a grandfather and step brother to suicide.  

Ms Bowtell says she wants family members to receive more than a portrait and the joy that can bring. She says many of the families she has worked with on the project to date have welcomed the opportunity to remember and talk about their loved one with the artist.  

For the first time this year, Ms Bowtell has joined with the portrait group of the Society of Artists Newcastle which has increased the number of families that can be supported. Ms Bowtell says 15 families can be supported this year with artists located in Port Stephens, the Hunter Valley, Maitland and Coalfields, Port Stephens, Newcastle and the Central Coast.  

The artists undergo Lifeline’s local safeTALK training program before they work with a family, boosting their awareness and skills in suicide prevention.  “The projects helps different people at different levels,” Ms Bowtell said.  “Family members are given an important healing process, artists are given the chance to use their skills and passion to make a difference and everybody starts talking about suicide prevention,“ she said.  

“The exhibition broadens the conversation about suicide and the ways we, as a community, can prevent future deaths.    

Expressions of interest from families close at the end of the year. The exhibition is planned for May.  

People who have lost a loved one to suicide and who wish to be involved, as well as people interested in sponsoring a portrait, should contact Kathie Bowtell on 0402 411 317 or email kathie.bowtell@walkom.com.au  

If this story raises concerns for you phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.    


Lifeline Australia Opinion Piece:December 2, 2015 

This article was written by Lifeline Australia CEO Peter Shmigel and appeared in today's SMH.  

More Australian women are dying by their own hand than ever before. 

While suicide has been considered a predominantly male phenomenon, with two-thirds of Australia's suicide deaths being men, the sad reality is that the trend in increased suicide and suicidality is among women.

Five years ago, three-quarters of deaths by suicide were men. In 2013, 637 Australian women and girls died by suicide. Suicide is the leading cause of death among women aged between 20 and 34 years old. The suicide rate is highest among women aged 40 to 44 years old at 9.4 deaths per year per 100,000 women. Since 2000, the rate of women reporting to hospital for self-harm has increased by 50 per cent, data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows. 

Eating disorders are identified as a significant risk factor among women who suicide. A 2014 World Health Organisation study found that women who experience family and intimate partner violence are 4.5 times more likely to die by suicide. 

At Lifeline, Australia's largest crisis support organisation, more than 60 per cent of callers to our service are women, particularly middle-aged women. Nearly 80 per cent of users on our online chat service are women, particularly younger women.

Family and relationship issues are the key area of focus for them seeking help. Lifeline recorded the highest monthly demand ever on its services in three separate months in 2015. All this pain is occurring in a society that is extraordinarily affluent and well educated. There is a seeming gap between our wealth and our wellbeing, and women are perhaps feeling it more than men. Regretfully, because much more research is needed, the factors for female suicidality in Australia are not well understood, including the role in some cases of mental illness. But that shouldn't stop us from at least casting light on pressures and factors that either foster suicide or act as protections to prevent suicide. 

I sat in on some social research focus groups in western Sydney and the women talked about there being "too much constantly going on and everything seems out of control". It's easy to understand when we match the intensity of contemporary Australian life to the depravity of contemporary world events. We face a digital deluge on our smartphones and other screens. For example, it's estimated that a typical person in the workforce will receive on average 85 emails per day and send about 40 per day. And then the internet also shakes and stirs a toxic cocktail of body shaming and hyper-sexualisation. See how many hits one gets when you put "hot dog legs", "bikini bridge" or "coins on collarbone" into Google. 

Women run the relentless gauntlet of modern Australia, especially those who work full-time. The sprawl of our cities steals women's time with family and friends. According to government modelling, we are now spending an average of 85 minutes a day trying to get around our capital cities at a private time cost of some $6 billion and countless more to our sanity. But there is also hope. Our growing recognition of mental health lets us raise and talk about our issues. We now have open and compassionate conversations in some workplaces and in cafes about our stuff – virtually unthinkable for many a generation ago. Our technology lets us accelerate community connections. One wonders how kids' sporting comps were organised before mobile phones and text messages. Our knowledge lets us embrace helpful self-care techniques such as mindfulness and meditation – contemporary practices built on ancient and proven traditions. 

There is perhaps growing recognition that to simply hit the "pause" button is a great antidote for our lives that always feel like they are on "fast forward". Indeed, my engineering colleague's research shows that we better connect in communication terms when we allow for silences in our speech patterns; the same is true for living. It was heartening to recently read that a very exclusive Sydney girls' school has appointed a dean of wellbeing and to hear leading psychologists call for emotional intelligence to be part of school curriculums. 

 In the face of what's been described as a national emergency in suicide, we need to better understand what's driving despair and what builds resilience so women are empowered in their emotional lives, as well their political, social and economic lives. 


White Ribbon Day message:women should never live in fear of violence 

Media Release: November 25, 2015           

Lifeline is marking White Ribbon Day by highlighting the isolation and hopelessness felt by many women in the community, and sharing its commitment to creating an Australia where no one has to live in fear of domestic or family violence.

 Lifeline Hunter and Central Coast Chairman Gary Webb has today echoed the comments of Lifeline Australia CEO Pete Shmigel. Mr Shmigel said the national campaign to end men’s violence against women was important for building awareness and spreading a message to those most vulnerable that there are many in the community who can help. 

 “We want women in the community experiencing domestic or family violence to know that it is never OK – you don’t have to hide or feel alone,” Mr Shmigel said. “There are many services, professionals and community members that will listen and provide both emotional and practical support.” With women experiencing personal violence 4.5 times more likely to take their own life, Mr Shmigel said it was important for the national charity to take a whole-of-community approach to finding a solution. 

 “We understand that it can be difficult for women to reach out and, since 2011, have run the Domestic Violence Response Training (DV-alert) program to train frontline community workers to recognise and respond to domestic violence situations,” Mr Shmigel said. “It’s built on the belief that all Australians should be able to live full and happy lives, free from fear of violence. 

Through DV-alert, Lifeline seeks to empower community frontline workers by providing them with the skills and tools to support women experiencing family violence.” DV-alert, which was recently expanded to include police officers, social workers and emergency department staff, will train more than 3000 frontline workers in FY16. To date, DV-alert has trained close to 6000 frontline community workers across the country. 

 The program is a key initiative under the Australian Government’s National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022. Recognising the diverse communities in Australia, the training is also delivered specifically for frontline workers supporting Indigenous, and refugee and migrant communities. For more information, visit www.dvalert.org.au. 

For crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp. 


LIFELINE APP CONNECTS COMMUNITY TO HEALTH SERVICES

Media Release: November 18, 2015 

A new smartphone app featuring the most extensive national directory of health and community services was launched by Lifeline today, linking Australians with more than 85,000 free and low cost services across the country. Lifeline Australia’s Chief Executive Officer Pete Shmigel said that both service providers and the broader community will benefit from the free Lifeline Service Finder app, which puts the nearest available help at the tips of our fingers. 

“With studies suggesting we’re spending some 24 hours per week online, the development of this app shows Lifeline’s commitment to being a beacon of hope in the sometimes isolating digital landscape,” Mr Shmigel said.

“It’s a valuable extension of our online Service Finder tool, which already connects thousands of Australians to support services every day. Australian adults now own an average of three digital devices – typically a laptop, a smartphone and a tablet – so it’s important to ensure that people have easy access to help anytime, anywhere.  “Whether somebody is a victim of domestic violence, living with a mental illness or contemplating suicide, the Lifeline Service Finder will locate the most appropriate service and provide up-to-date contact details. It’s about harnessing the digital world for the good of our emotional world.” 

Lifeline Hunter & Central Coast Chairman Gary Webb welcomed the new app. Mr Webb said the app is another way that Lifeline is helping to save lives in the local community. 

The smartphone app was developed in partnership with Infoxchange and funded by Prime Super, with Prime Super’s Chief Executive Officer Lachlan Baird saying the organisation was proud to partner with Lifeline for the project. “Prime Super understands the importance in Australians having access to the right support, at the right time,” Mr Baird said. “As such, we believe the Lifeline Service Finder will have far-reaching benefits for the community – both in major metropolitan and rural areas – giving family, friends and colleagues access to a lifesaving directory of health services.” 

The smartphone app is available in both Android and Apple, with regular updates from Infoxchange ensuring data remains up to date. For crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp. 


LIFELINE OPENS FIRST HUNTER BOOKSHOP 

Media Release: November 17, 2015  

Lifeline Bookshop 50 Clyde Street, Hamilton North
Open: Monday to Thursday 9.30am till 2.30pm. 

 Lifeline Hunter & Central Coast has opened its first dedicated bookshop in the Hunter. Retail Manager Jason Fox said Lifeline Hunter & Central Coast decided to open a dedicated bookstore despite the growth in online reading because people still love and want printed books. 

 He said the success of Lifeline’s popular, local annual Bookfest showed people still like to buy printed books, particularly if they are also supporting vital community services too.  More than 14,000 books were sold during the weekend event held in September. “The bookshop means people can access our great range of books all the time, not just once a year,” Mr Fox said. 

 “Our books are popular because they we have great titles as well as some unusual, vintage and rare books at very affordable prices,” he said. “We are the perfect place for people to do their Christmas shopping if they have friends and family who are books lovers.” 

 “All books are well priced and start as low as 50 cents which also makes them an inexpensive resource for craft and school projects too.” The bookshop is managed by Sue Ross and a team of book loving volunteers. 

All proceeds from the bookshop go to support Lifeline’s local crisis support and suicide prevention services. The shop is located in Clyde Street Hamilton at the eastern end of its warehouse. 

Lifeline Hunter & Central Coast saves the lives of more than 5,000 local people each year through its crisis support and suicide prevention services but relies on community support for more than 80 per cent of its funding. For more information on local Lifeline services available or to donate to Lifeline’s work to save local lives, go to www.lifelinehunter.org.au or call 4940 2000. 


Media Release November 6 2015

JILL AURISCH IS NAMED 2015 UPPER HUNTER STEEL MAGNOLIA

A woman who spent years caring for her ill husband and battling cancer while still running a business and supporting local community organisations has been honoured as a Steel Magnolia by Lifeline Newcastle and Hunter.

Jill Aurisch from Denman was presented with the 2015 Upper Hunter Steel Magnolia Award at a gala luncheon held at Sebel Kirkton Park today (November 6).  Mrs Aurisch was joined by the other finalist, Karen Hobson from Singleton, who was nominated for helping fundraise $120,000 for Cystic Fibrosis over the last six years.

Hard work has always been the norm for Mrs Aurisch. She started work straight after school, aged 16, for Kranzes Farmers Services and was employed there until 1972. She and her husband Neville took over the partnership of agricultural machinery and merchandise firm, Denman Dapkos where she is still an active member of the business.After Neville was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease she cared for him at home. When his condition required residential care she would take Neville on regular outings, which included dinner at home, until he passed away. Mrs Aurisch has endured her own health problems. In 2001 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and required a mastectomy and chemotherapy. She has required further chemotherapy as secondary cancer was detected in her liver and bones.Born in 1937, the mother of three has 11 grandchildren.   

Lifeline Newcastle and Hunter chairman Gary Webb said during all of the hurdles in her life Jill has continued to be there for her family, friends, her business and volunteer for Meals on Wheels, the hospital auxiliary, Rotary and other local organisations.Mr Webb said that the Steel Magnolia Award recognises a special woman who has been through adversity yet still finds the courage and inspiration to give back to their community.  He said the event is also a chance to raise urgently needed funds for the work done by Lifeline Newcastle and Hunter to save the lives of local people through its crisis support and suicide prevention services. He thanked major sponsor Coal & Allied and other supporters for making the event possible.  

Coal & Allied representative Cate Sims spoke at the event, praising this year’s nominees.  

“We feel privileged to be able to honour the  tremendous efforts of these women, who have shown courage and strength in the face of adversity,” Ms Sims said.  

“Their stories are truly inspirational and although there can only be one winner, we commend both Jill and Karen on their contributions to the Upper Hunter community,” she said.

The event was hosted by PowerFM’s Nicky Ainley. Guest speaker, businesswoman and founder of the online community for women, the Sista Code, Melissa Histon, spoke of her battle with cancer and her work to support other women.

Lifeline Newcastle and Hunter saves the lives of local people each year through its crisis support and suicide prevention services but relies on community support for more than 80 per cent of its funding. 

For more information on local Lifeline services available or to donate to Lifeline’s work to save local lives, go to www.lifelinehunter.org.au or call 4940 2000. 

For crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit .lifeline.org.au/gethelp.



Media Release 10th October 2015

WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY MESSAGE: MAKE A MENTAL HEALTH PROMISE TO YOURSELF

To mark World Mental Health Day today, Lifeline has partnered with Mental Health Australia in asking Australians to make a mental health promise to themselves.

Lifeline National Ambassador Dan Conn – a former NRL player with a history of depression – highlighted the importance of the ‘Mental Health Begins with Me’ campaign and encouraged others to share their own promise on social media.

“I’m proud to be a part of this fantastic initiative,” Mr Conn said. “Not only does it encourage people to think about their own mental health, but it also breaks down the stigma of mental illness by tackling the issue head on.”

“My mental health promise is to always show how much I appreciate all the people that have helped me with my journey. In sharing this, I hope that my own friends, family and the wider community feel more comfortable in reaching out for support should they ever need it.

“Almost 70 per cent of people with a mental illness don’t seek help, but community support for mental health can help change this. If you find you are struggling with things in your life, or are concerned about a friend of family member, remember you are not alone and help is available – Lifeline’s 24/7 crisis support services are there for you and the people you know.”

This year, the campaign has three themes:
1. Encouraging people to seek help when they need it
2. Helping to break down stigma in relation to mental illness
3. Bringing communities together

Emma Askew said that World Mental Health Day is an important reminder for the community to focus on looking after our mental wellbeing.

“With an estimated one in five Australians to experience a mental issue in the next 12 months – and nearly half of us to experience mental health difficulties during our lifetime – this is an issue that will affect us all in some way,” Ms Askew said.

“However, it’s important to remember that there are very good services and programs available that can help, and that most people recover from difficult periods in their life. For those going through tough times, Lifeline can provide information, guide people through situations and promote coping strategies.”

Make your own promise and find out more details about the campaign at www.1010.org.au.

For crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit .lifeline.org.au/gethelp.


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Media Release 24th September 2015

LIFELINE WELCOMES $5.6M BOOST TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PREVENTION TRAINING

Lifeline welcomes today’s announcement of a $5.6 million increase to the charity’s domestic violence training program, DV-alert, which trains allied health and community frontline workers to respond and refer people in situations of domestic and family violence.

Lifeline Australia Chairman John Brogden said that the $14 million to be provided over three years – up from $8.4 million – would go a long way to supporting Lifeline’s vision of an Australia free of suicide.

“With women experiencing personal violence 4.5 times more likely to attempt to take their own life, this support from the Australian Government will help save lives,” Mr Brogden said. “It will do so by allowing Lifeline to significantly expand our nationally-accredited training program, DV-Alert.

“Since October 2011, Lifeline’s DV-alert has trained more than 5000 frontline workers across the country – we will now be able to train police, social workers, emergency department staff and community workers under the increased funding.”

The Australian Government’s $100 million package will deliver a range of immediate and practical measures to keep women and their children safe.

“Lifeline believes that we need to take a whole-of-community approach to stopping domestic violence and, as such, this package will equip more people with the skills to do something about this issue,” Mr Brogden said.

“From tackling a culture of violence to promoting crisis support services, such as Lifeline and 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), this package shows there are important steps we can take together.”

The DV-alert training is recognised as one of the key initiatives under the Australian Government’s National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

For crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au/gethelp.