Lifeline's crisis call service needs more volunteers

A record number of calls to Lifeline's 24-hour crisis support service over the past 12 months has prompted the organisation to put out a call for more volunteers.

Across Australia last year, Lifeline answered 700,000 calls from people in need of support and more than 16,000 of those were taken through Lifeline South Coast call centres at Wollongong and Nowra.

Nationally, the number of calls increased by more than 120,000 on the previous 12 months.

Throwing his personal support behind the latest recruitment campaign is BlueScope Steel's general manager of manufacturing John Nowlan.

While BlueScope has backed Lifeline for nine years, Mr Nowlan will personally feature in radio commercials and advertisements for a campaign to recruit telephone crisis supporters.

Mr Nowlan said suicide prevention was something the entire community should be aware of.

"Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44 ... it is something for us all to be concerned about," he said.

Lifeline South Coast executive director Grahame Gould said having a senior business leader such as Mr Nowlan involved sent a message that suicide prevention was everybody's business.

Mr Gould said the latest campaign targeted people who could volunteer during peak periods - weekdays between 8pm and midnight and at weekends, Sundays in particular.

Potential telephone crisis support workers are given extensive training before being allocated a four-hour weekly shift.

People can apply online at lifelinesouthcoast.org.au.

Mr Gould said the only prerequisite was that you were "a good listener".

"You have to put aside your own preconceived ideas and listen - that is the cornerstone," Mr Gould said.

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