A new recruitment campaign is calling on people in the Hunter to step up and help build a suicide safe community.
National charity Lifeline launched the movement today to encourage residents to become Community Connectors to ensure early intervention and support is available for people who are struggling with their mental health.
Hunter General Manager Julie Wicks said the double trauma caused by the bushfires and the pandemic had left communities vulnerable to long-term mental health challenges.
“COVID-19 is challenging our ability to connect and recover from the bushfires together, so it’s more important than ever that we equip local people who have frequent interactions with other members of the community to be suicide aware,” she said.
“The earlier someone can recognise the signs that another person may be struggling, the sooner we can intervene and get that person to the help they need.
“By working together with the community, we will save lives.”
The Community Connector program has been developed with funding from the NRMA.
It will train over 3,000 community members on the east coast of Australia to be suicide aware.
Participants will undertake the charity’s accredited Accidental Counsellor Course at no cost and will be supplied a suite of tool kits and wallet cards to help them refer community members who may be struggling to the most appropriate support services.
“Our community has been through some really difficult times and local people understand the issues we’re facing best,” Ms Wicks said.
“We know people who interact frequently with members of the community are in the ideal position to notice behaviour change, to recognise that someone may need some professional support to cope with their current state of mental health, so we are especially reaching out to frontline members of the community.
“In the past, we have trained teachers, accountants, hairdressers, lawyers, publicans, priests and community workers to recognise the signs and intervene.”
To express your interest in being a Lifeline Community Connector, please contact Community Engagement Coordinator Dean Bayliss at [email protected].