Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait


People donating to Lifeline book fair

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Wahroonga) (19:16): Each year, over one million Australians reach out to Lifeline for support. Its crisis support line receives a call every 30 seconds. Lifeline has 41 centres, 10,000 volunteers and 1,000 employees providing life-saving national infrastructure for people experiencing immense pain and anguish. In total, there are 3,500 crisis supporters working with Lifeline so that no-one in Australia has to face their darkest moment alone. For context, 8.6 Australians take their life every day, which is more than double the road toll. An estimated one in three Australians report feeling lonely. Unfortunately, that is more prevalent among seniors. Despite this, Lifeline is there to listen.

The local branch, Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury, services Wahroonga and the surrounding electorates. Since I became a member of Parliament, many constituents have contacted my office providing positive feedback on their experience with Lifeline. Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury has helped many of my constituents with their mental health and has provided emergency relief due to financial crisis, including ongoing support for positive, long-term outcomes. I recall a local pensioner who approached me in public many months ago to thank me and my office for liaising with Lifeline to ensure that she received emergency financial support. I thank the volunteers who worked directly with her, as well as all the volunteers and staff at Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury, who help thousands in our community.

The financial counselling work that Lifeline performs is incredibly important. Lifeline is certainly more than just a crisis line. Lifeline conducts many local fundraising events, which help to raise funds that go back into the community through its critical services. In July, Lifeline held Sydney's biggest book fair at Knox Grammar School, as it has in past years. It was well supported, with a range of more than 110,000 pre-loved books, DVDs, CDs and more, as well as a large community turnout. The line is always incredibly long before the doors open on the first day. The funds raised go back to Lifeline to support its suicide prevention service. Lifeline supports a range of other events, including the Bobbin Head Cycle Classic, or the Bobbo, which raised $78,000 this year, as well as Lifeline's golf day at Pennant Hills, the Castle Hill Book Fair, Go For Broke and the Sapphire Gala Ball.

The former New South Wales Government recognised the importance of good mental health in the 2022‑23 New South Wales budget, where it allocated a total of $2.9 billion to mental health services. That included $3.4 million a year to support Lifeline telephone crisis services in New South Wales, with an additional $28.5 million over four years from 2022‑23 for Lifeline to meet the increasing demand for mental health crisis services. I hope that our strong record of funding mental health services and Lifeline is continued in the upcoming 2023‑24 budget of the New South Wales Labor Government. It was disappointing to see the rolling back of several initiatives such as Active Kids, so I urge the Minns Labor Government to continue strong funding for critical mental health services, particularly as demand is growing.

I thank Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury CEO Elizabeth Lovell, who took on that challenging yet rewarding role last year, and all the volunteers and staff who keep it running on a day-to-day basis. Their efforts do not go unrecognised, neither by my office nor by the constituents who regularly contact me, grateful for Lifeline's presence in our community. I look forward to seeing them recognised by the Minns Labor Government. Lifeline can provide continued benefits to our local and broader community into the future. Walking around the call centre in Gordon and meeting the volunteers, I got a sense of the incredible people who give their time free of charge to help the most vulnerable in our community. Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury is a great community organisation. It has one of the few round-the-clock crisis lines in Australia. They take calls from all over the nation to help people during their most dire moments. I cannot speak more highly of the incredible work that Lifeline and its volunteers do in our community.