The “Mexican stand-off” between financially-strapped Lifeline Central West (LLCW) and the administrator of $2 million in annual state government funding, Lifeline Australia, remains unresolved.
LLCW has been imploring Lifeline Australia to acknowledge it has three centres, at Dubbo, Orange and Bathurst, and boost its allocation of money from $100,000 to $300,000 a year.
On struggle street, the LLCW board this week debated closing the Dubbo and Orange centres. On Thursday LLCW executive director Alex Ferguson said the board opted to keep the doors open at the cost of training telephone crisis supporters and a promotional and fundraising event at Bathurst.
“The big problem is that that they (Lifeline Australia) don’t seem to be able to understand their own memos and articles of association,” he said. They’re arguing we are not centres when in actual fact under their definition we are. It’s like a Mexican stand-off.”
A resolution in the form of public intervention by the state government was not forthcoming on Friday with the office of NSW Mental Health Minister Pru Goward referring media to Lifeline Australia.
The office did not provide a response when asked if the government could provide extra funding to LLCW directly or through Lifeline Australia, or if it could intervene in the row.
But the Orana Regional Organisation of Councils (OROC) will discuss the plight of LLCW at a meeting in Bourke on December 2. Interim chairman and almost 30-year mayor of Warren Shire, Rex Wilson, said it was a “critical service” and that a welcome seasonal turnaround did not mean that all was well.
“When you do contact Lifeline you should be able to speak to someone who empathises with regional communities,” Cr Wilson said.
Lifeline Australia issued a statement on Thursday offering assurance that its 13 11 14 crisis line “will not be compromised” in the Central West. It hopes that “ongoing discussions” with all NSW Lifeline centres will lead to a solution that “meets the needs of LLCW, the other 12 NSW Lifeline centres and, most importantly, those who need our lifesaving services”.