NSW Labor will invest in an expansion of Lifeline’s services after the NSW Liberals opposed a request for more funding, amidst a surge in demand for its services.
Since the last state Budget, demand for Lifeline’s text and webchat services has grown beyond the predicted numbers and their ability to meet this need has been limited by funding constraints.
Under Labor Lifeline’s current funding will be guaranteed, with an additional commitment of $8.2 million over five years to increase text and webchat services.
This will give Lifeline certainty and additional resources to continue its vital work in the community.
Demand for text and webchat services has significantly exceeded Lifeline’s forecasts, with a 52 per cent increase from December 2021 (13,354 a month) to December 2022 (20,267 a month) alone.
Lifeline projects this figure will grow five-fold in the next few years, reaching close to 1 million text and webchat contacts a year by 2026.
Lifeline requested an increase in funding for text and webchat services ahead of the state budget last year, which the NSW Liberal Government denied.
The expansion of the text and webchat service is backed by data showing it is particularly valued by high-risk members of the community. This includes young people, those experiencing family and domestic violence, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Over half of all text and webchat contacts come from people under 24 years of age, and 42 per cent of people who use Lifeline’s text and webchat service say that they would not have reached out for help any other way.
This includes people with speech and hearing impairments and those experiencing domestic violence who cannot seek help via the phone.
The Lifeline Crisis Support Text Service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via confidential text message to 0477 13 11 14. Following a few questions via text, Australians are connected to a trained Lifeline crisis supporter.
Lifeline’s webchat service connects a person to a trained Crisis Supporter by tapping the blue chat icon at the bottom right of their screen.
Quotes attributable to Chris Minns, NSW Labor leader:
“This funding from NSW Labor will ensure that if you find you are feeling overwhelmed, you will not be alone.
“People are reaching out like never before and Labor’s message is don’t suffer in silence or think that people don’t care – we do and we will provide the funding to help.”
Quotes attributable to Ryan Park, Shadow Minister for Health, Shadow Minister for Mental Health:
“We know people in their darkest hour are reaching out for help in record numbers, and this funding will mean help will be available.
“Labor’s funding for additional mental health services will mean support is available to groups who might otherwise not reach out for help, particularly young people and women in domestic violence situations who are often more comfortable using text services.
“The earlier we can intervene when a person is struggling, the greater the chance we have of reducing the devastating risk of suicide or other long-term mental health impacts.” “This election is a choice between Labor who will make mental health more accessible and the Liberals who refuse to invest more in mental health services.”
CHRIS MINNS MP
NSW LABOR LEADER
RYAN PARK MP
NSW SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH