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Lifeline celebrates 60 years of suicide prevention

Lifeline Macarthur and Western Sydney on March 22 celebrated Lifeline's 60th Anniversary by hosting an Open Day at its head office in Smeaton Grange.

Community members and leaders met crisis supporters and training staff, and were treated to a tour of the premises, a sausage sizzle and video presentations including a screening of the Lifeline documentary “Holding Hope”.

Lifeline was founded in Sydney in March 1963 by the Rev. Dr Sir Alan Walker OBE after he took a call from a distressed man who later took his own life. Determined not to let isolation and lack of support be the cause of more deaths, Sir Alan launched what was later to become the organisation’s 24/7 telephone crisis line, 13 11 14.

Lifeline’s crisis support phone line was the first of its kind in Australia and today Lifeline is the country’s leading crisis support and suicide prevention organisation.

A telephone counselling service began in Macarthur, in Camden Wesley Hall, in July 1978 as a project of Lifeline Parramatta, which itself began at Parramatta Regional Mission in 1974 and later became known as Lifeline Western Sydney.

In July 2020 Lifeline Western Sydney transitioned to Lifeline Macarthur to strengthen the service and increase service provision.

The organisation now stretches across 15 local government areas in the South West and Western Sydney corridor and provides vital support services to approximately 2.5 million Australians.

Lifeline Australia Chair Jacinta Munro said, “Our core mission began as that of supporting people in crisis and we have stuck to that central 24/7 service for 60 years.

“Lifeline is supporting more Australians than ever before – we’ve never been needed more, and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the incredible support of our funders, volunteers and staff all around the country.”

Lifeline Macarthur and Western Sydney CEO Veronica Macdonald said, “Especially in the last few years, Lifeline has played a critical role through distressing events and continues to be central in disaster response and recovery at community level and beyond.

“Last financial year we answered 139,950 calls from help seekers, trained 1,560 individuals and provided financial counselling for 178 clients.

“We are now taking between 8,000 and 10,000 calls a month – around half of all the calls taken in New South Wales.”

Lifeline Macarthur and Western Sydney will continue its 60th Anniversary celebrations when it hosts its annual Gala Dinner at Ottimo House on 26 May.

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