29 June 2017 – With ABS Census 2016 data showing that our country is becoming increasingly culturally diverse, Lifeline is committed to meeting the needs of modern Australia in the years ahead.
Lifeline Australia CEO Pete Shmigel said that – from exploring the feasibility of a Chinese-language helpline to recruiting multicultural Crisis Supporters – the national charity needs to do more to evolve as the nation does.
“The growing national suicide emergency in Australia does not discriminate and has had devastating impacts on friends and families of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities,” Mr Shmigel said.
While we as a country have made great inroads in promoting help-seeking over the past 50 years, we need to be make sure this message is being heard by all Australians: no matter who you are or where you’re from, you don’t have to struggle through life’s challenges alone.
This message is particularly relevant when we consider the growth of Indian (from 6.0% to 8.3%) and Chinese-born (from 5.6% to 7.4%) Australians over the past five years, for who helplines have not formed an essential part of their societal fabric.
“It’s about not just about making crisis support more accessible for non-English speakers, but also more sensitive to the different cultures, attitudes and outlooks that make up our rich and diverse community.”
“We currently receive more than 20,000 calls each year from people who share that English is not their first language. And, while about 15 per of our Crisis Supporters speak a language other than English at home – and stem from more than 35 countries – we need to take steps to ensure our make-up reflects that of the community.”
For non-English speakers, Lifeline’s 24/7 caring and non-judgement support can only currently be accessed through the free Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS). However, Mr Shmigel said a recent three-year partnership with the Bridging Hope Charity Foundation would help explore opportunities to provide better services to Chinese people.