Commonwealth response to 'The hidden toll: suicide in Australia'

3.2 Improving access to non face to face support services

Page last updated: 2010

Recommendation 23
Recommendation 24

Recommendation 23

6.127 The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth government ensure telecommunications providers provide affordable access to telephone and online counselling services from mobile and wireless devices.

Response

The Australian Government supports this recommendation and is taking action to address it.

The Government supports a range of quality crisis support services for those experiencing psychosocial crisis or suicidal ideation. The Mental health: Taking Action to Tackle Suicide package, will expand access to these services including:
  • $18.2 million over three years for Boosting the capacity of crisis hotlines, to increase the capacity of existing support hotlines including Lifeline Australia. This includes funding to Lifeline to establish dedicated phone lines at suicide 'hotspots' so that people who are contemplating suicide have immediate help at hand and to enable calls to Lifeline from mobiles to be toll-free; and

  • $3.2 million over four years for Increasing the capacity of helplines for men, to increase the capacity of the beyondblue information and assistance line.
The Government recognises the value of affordable calls to crisis counselling lines. The majority of crisis lines in Australia have established arrangements with service providers to offer calls for the 'cost of a local call' from a landline, regardless of the caller's location.

The Government will be Expanding online mental health and counselling services under the Mental health: Taking Action to Tackle Suicide package, which will provide $21.3 million over four years to provide more avenues to mental health initiatives and counselling services, particularly for young people, and those who may be reluctant, or unable to access face to face services.

The Government provided, in the 2010–11 Budget, a further $78.8 million over four years to deliver up to 30 new headspace youth friendly services, provide extra funding for the existing 30 headspace sites, and improve telephone and web-based support services for young people.

The Government also supports the Mensline Australia national telephone counselling, information and referral service for men through the Department of Family, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Department of Veterans' Affairs also supports Veterans Line after-hours crisis service to veterans, who are experiencing social or psychological difficulties. Commonwealth Human Service agencies, such as Centrelink and the Child Support Program offer telephone assistance for those in crisis who seek their specific business services.Top of page

Recommendation 24

6.129 The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth government commission an implementation study for a national toll-free crisis support telephone service to assist those at risk of suicide.

Response

The Australian Government notes this recommendation.

The Government supports a range of telephone based crisis support services and respects the individual brands of the organisations who run them, and a caller's choice in the service from which they wish to seek support.

The Government invests in the sustainability and quality of these services including ensuring that counselling staff are well trained in a number of key areas, including assessment of risk of suicide, management of calls where someone is actively suicidal and triage for referral to appropriate specialist crisis counsellors if the caller needs more specialist assistance.