The new Lifeline Central West premises at 148 Brisbane Street in Dubbo looks set to open in the next two weeks if all goes to plan.
Speaking to Fairfax Media on Tuesday, March 6, Lifeline Central West executive director Alex Ferguson said the new premises is about four times larger than the previous building and will include a third phone.
“We’re just waiting on our high-tech phones to be connected and away we go,” he said.
With the addition of the extra phone and even more training being done, Lifeline Central West aim to have over 50 volunteer phone counsellors at Dubbo, Mr Ferguson said.
“The 50 volunteers will take us another two courses and if anyone is interested please call us on 1300 798 258,” he said.
“This new premises gives us a start to have a conversation with the community about mental health and self harm..
“With the increase in our telephone counsellors we hope to be doing by the end of the calendar year upwards of 800 to 1000 calls a month at the Dubbo premises, which is pretty significant.”
Mr Ferguson said it needs to be significant because Lifeline Central West’s footprint is so widespread.
“Lifeline’s territoriality includes Walgett, Bourke, Cobar, Condobolin, West Wyalong, Grenfell, Parkes and Forbes.. it’s a big slab of dirt,” he said.
“We know that statistically the further west you go the greater the problems in terms of mental health, suicide and domestic violence are.”
As well as modern and up-to-date equipment, the new location is also more central in Brisbane Street. There will be new signage and paint work done too.
“Charities are like any other business and they employ people, work with people and train people. So unless we can provide good working, efficient and comfortable surroundings, we wont get the good people,” Mr Ferguson said.
He said in any location of work there is a need to create a good work environment.
“...The need to have a light and airy surrounding is a lot about creating a pleasant and mental and social environment where although the conversations might be tough everything else is more than acceptable,” Mr Ferguson said.
There are currently two face-to-face Lifeline financial and gambling counsellors.
“And once we get a few physical things sorted out that’ll be increased to three,” Mr Ferguson said.
Training at the new premises will be held in May, and so far there are 9 people registered, but Mr Ferguson hopes that increases to about 15.
“If anyone is interested, male or female, or anyone of Aboriginal descent, we would very much welcome their call,” he said.
While Lifeline are involved in mental health, there’s a lot of stigma around the issue, he said.
“At Lifeline we much prefer people in trouble, no matter what it is, to get onto the phone and have a chat about it and work out a plan,” Mr Ferguson said.
“A lot of people won’t admit that there’s something wrong with their head because it opens up a Pandora’s Box in terms of their own personal image or esteem.. so we just say please come along and we’ll work out what is and will help to get you the support you need.”