The Orange Lifeline call centre has only just survived being closed down due to a funding crisis.
Lifeline Central West will be lucky to maintain current service levels.Alex Ferguson, executive director
Lifeline Central West executive director Alex Ferguson revealed on Thursday the Orange centre, which has provided counselling and help for people for 33 years, has been left with an uncertain future with little funds to train volunteers.
Mr Ferguson said the lack of funding had also forced Lifeline to axe the Soar, Ride and Shine airshow in Bathurst.
He said the Orange, Bathurst and Dubbo Lifeline centres were treated as one centre rather than three separate entities and had to share funding.
Mr Ferguson said efforts to increase funding from Lifeline Australia had failed and a crisis meeting of Lifeline Central West (LLCW) this week considered closing the Orange and Dubbo centres.
“The closure of the Orange and Dubbo Lifeline centres, after 33 and 16 years respectively, was narrowly averted, but not without dissention.”
He said that by being treated as one centre the LLCW had missed out on $800,000 funding over the past four years.
“Unless a resolution between LLCW and Lifeline Australia can be brokered LLCW will likely lose another signficant amount of funding. This will impact LLCW’s work in an area where the statistics show that the rate of suicide alone is almost three times greater than in the cities.”
However, he said most funding went to Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.
“LLCW will be lucky to maintain current service levels.”
Mr Ferguson said the Orange centre had 53 phone counsellers who cost $3000 each to be trained. With up to one-third leaving every year he said there was little funding to train replacements, let alone increase the number of counsellers. “In our business we deal with some very, very difficult issues, and our people have got to be extremely well trained.”
A Lifeline Australia spokesman said they would work with LLCW over the financial issues and it would not diminish the quality of service provided to people who called Lifeline for help.