Lifeline Rockhampton celebrates 50 years
Next Wednesday, Lifeline Central Queensland will celebrate 50 years being part of the Rockhampton community.
Lifeline Queensland launched in Rockhampton on June 22, 1972. Back then it was a phone support service for locals, but is now deeply embedded into the community through Telephone Crisis Support, Retail shops, Community Recovery and Corporate Training.
Lifeline North Queensland & Rockhampton service manager, Joanne Adrelius, said the positive impact made throughout that 50 years is immense.
“Here in Rockhampton, we have trained locals to be fully qualified Crisis Supporters for 50 years now, which directly helps our community in so many ways,” she said.
“Through our nationally accredited training, people take the skills they learn with them, back out into the community, to their workplaces and their families, helping to create suicide safe communities.
“We're really embedded in the Rockhampton community, regularly setting up Lifeline information stalls at a variety of local events so people know they can reach out to Lifeline for support whenever they are in need,” Ms Adrelius said.
While the Rockhampton Crisis Call Centre is now part of the national Lifeline network, fielding calls from across Australia; it originated by just focusing on the Rockhampton community.
Margaret Whitchurch has been a volunteer at Lifeline Rockhampton as a Crisis Supporter for 29 years, and explained that a lot has changed since her first shift on the phones.
“When I started we just had the phones, and we had to handwrite all of the reports. Now, we have computers,” she said.
Reflecting on close to three decades of service with Lifeline, Ms Whitchurch said COVID had brought an array of mental health issues to the surface.
“COVID changed a lot of things. Isolation, depression, and anxiety for where the future is heading are very common in the calls we receive which really escalated at the height of the pandemic,” she said.
“That’s why it’s important people are listened to and heard, without judgement, so they know they are not alone.”
While Ms Whitchurch has come a long way since taking her first phone call, she continues on the phones today, and now trains the next generation of Lifeline callers.
“I get more than I give at Lifeline. I find such satisfaction in mentoring new students, or when I’ve had a call where I’m hopeful I’ve left them better than when they rang,” she said.
“People invite me into some of the most important, vulnerable and private moments of their life and I am there to assist in times of need. It is an honour and privilege to be part of the Lifeline team.”
Looking ahead, Ms Whitchurch is showing no signs of slowing down in her Lifeline volunteering role.
“I’m learning and refreshing all the time. You’ve got to as technology and change keeps coming. But we still have a phone, and we are helping save lives and that part will never change.”
Lifeline Rockhampton will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary on Wednesday, 22 June at Rockhampton’s Dreamtime Cultural Centre.
The morning event includes a morning tea and a fashion parade from the local Lifeline retail store, providing guests and past and present volunteers time to come together and reflect on the difference the volunteers have made and continue to make to the Rockhampton community and beyond.
The Rockhampton team are currently recruiting for additional Crisis Support volunteers. The team are also expanding operations into more regional areas in the coming months. To find out more information on becoming a volunteer, click here.