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News : Record Number of Calls for Lifeline in Bendigo
Oct 2, 2014 -- Lifeline Central Victoria and Mallee has taken a record number of calls in the past financial year.
Chief executive Leo Schultz said the Bendigo-based call centre had taken more than 20,000 calls during 2013-145, the first time it had eclipsed the milestone.
The record figure was revealed at the Central Victoria & Mallee branch’s annual general meeting at the La Trobe Visual Arts Centre.
Mr Schultz said the record was due to a significant increase in volunteers.
Volunteers answered 20,590 calls in total, which was a 7.2 per cent increase on the previous financial year.
Fifty new telephone crisis supporters were trained, an increase on the previous year of five.
With a catchment area stretching from Woodend to Mildura, Mr Schultz said the branch prided itself on the being the nation’s busiest. The chief executive has vowed to be even busier this financial year.
"We’d like to have the resources to do more," Mr Schultz said. Local communities benefit by having Lifeline active in their town."
"Through recruiting and training more people from Bendigo, we are seeing more people putting their hand up to help people."
The AGM was a chance to honour some the centre’s longest serving volunteer telephone crisis supporters.
Bob Lawrence and Jean MacBean were awarded for 15 years’ service and Rex McKenzie and Jim Lowery for 10 years.
They received the Nola McIvor Award, named after the recently retired volunteer, who served Lifeline for 30 years.
Mr Schultz said the quartet’s contribution was massive. "Our requirement for volunteers is that they do one three-hour shift a week," he said.
"To do that over 10 to 15 years is amazing. "Bob Lawrence would do four to five shifts a week, so he answers about 1500 calls a year himself."
The centre has three new board members – Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards, local lawyer Kim Packer and Bendigo Advertiser editor Rod Case.
They join re-elected chairman Graeme Meager, Helen McMahon, Ian Mayo, Teaghan Anketell, Craig Tweed and Robin Tchernomoroff.
Mr Schultz praised out-going board member Gillian Hanlon, whose long association with the centre included stints as an employee, volunteer and on the committee.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Friday, October 3, 2014