Australians are facing
crises like never before
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What would you do if someone called you in distress while driving home from a shift at their second job? Kate*, a Crisis Supporter at Lifeline Sydney & Sutherland, takes calls like this every day – and she couldn’t be more grateful to help.
“Most of our callers are calling because they’re experiencing emotional distress, whether that’s because of relationship issues, a financial issue or they’re struggling with their mental health,” she says. “They’re calling up to be heard and to receive some comfort and support.”
And that’s exactly what Jo* needed when she called Lifeline Sydney & Sutherland and spoke to Kate.
Read Jo’s story
Harder than ever to make ends meet
Jo is a 40-year-old single mother to her 13-year-old son, Callum*. She has two jobs, but despite her commitment to work, she still finds it difficult to afford groceries and other essentials due to the continued rising cost of living.
With no financial contribution from Callum’s father, Jo and her teenage son live in a small apartment in Sydney’s southwest*. She’s determined to provide a stable and nurturing environment for Callum but faces a constant battle to make ends meet on her limited income. She struggles with the stresses of being a single mother and doesn’t have a lot of time or energy to invest in connecting with friends.
While Jo was proactive in seeking support from different organisations for food and vouchers, Kate says her situation was lonely and isolating. Struggling with guilt and stress, Jo reached out to Lifeline Sydney & Sutherland for emotional support in October last year.
“Initially, I could hear the exhaustion,” says Kate. “That was what shined through the most. When something’s been a struggle for so long, you just don’t have much left in the tank.”
Kate says Jo detailed how strictly she must budget – often down to the dollar – and that her only food is whatever Callum doesn’t finish at dinner.
“She was saying that meat and eggs are a luxury, and she can’t afford to buy them anymore. Obviously, she was very grateful for the staples she got from the food banks, but it was a lot of pasta and rice.”
It’s easy to think Lifeline is only for people experiencing suicidal ideation or self-harm, but Kate says a lot of people are simply seeking connection and comfort.
“We’re a suicide prevention service, but we’re also a crisis support service,” she says.
“Jo called after her shift for her second job. [She] was tired and deflated, but it was nice for her just to be able to express her feelings, and also have her feelings and her situation acknowledged and validated.”
“A lot of people don’t have great support networks. Or they might be going through something where they don’t feel comfortable disclosing their struggles to friends and family.
“Jo had some great practical supports, [but] she didn’t have a lot of emotional support. She didn’t have a lot of friends or family, or a partner to talk to and unload about her day.”
And that’s why Kate says Lifeline Sydney & Sutherland is so critical.
“The beautiful thing about Lifeline Sydney & Sutherland is that we’ve created this confidential, anonymous, non-judgemental space where people can just share what’s burdening them and that gives people a lot of relief.”
Finding a way forward, together
Kate is grateful to donors because each generous gift means there are more crisis supporters to answer calls from people like Jo and give them the care they deserve.
“More money means we can run more [crisis supporter] training courses, have shorter wait times and have more coverage through the call centre,” she says. “Being a crisis supporter is a very rewarding role. It’s a real privilege to be able to listen to people’s stories and be someone who can provide support. But it’s also tainted with feelings of sadness when you’re hearing about people’s pain and struggles.”
Thankfully, Jo – and thousands more Australians like her – know they can find comfort, support and connection by reaching out to Lifeline Sydney & Sutherland. And it’s all because of generous donors, just like you.
*Names and some details changed to protect privacy
Lifeline Sydney & Sutherland received 37,841 calls last year. Most were from people like Jo experiencing emotional distress.
3 in 10 Australians know someone who has attempted or died by suicide in the past 12 months.
1 in 5 Australians have experienced self harm or suicidal thoughts.
48.5 per cent of Australians are struggling with rising living costs.1
Loneliness and social isolation increase the risk of depression, anxiety and suicide.2
Nine lives are lost to suicide every day in Australia. Give now to support people in crisis
No one should have to face their darkest times alone. Here are five ways your gift today will change the lives of people in crisis.