Prof. Adam Shoemaker with Colin Seery

Episode 23: Prof. Adam Shoemaker with Colin Seery

VU alumnus Colin Seery understands firsthand the profound impact of the 2019 bushfires, pandemic, floods, and the ongoing cost of living crisis on mental wellbeing.

Show notes

As the CEO of Lifeline Australia, he has witnessed a staggering 50% increase in calls for help, underscoring the critical role that the Lifeline Crisis Call Centre plays in supporting individuals in need.

Lifeline's relentless efforts to combat the stigma around seeking help have resulted in more people than ever reaching out for assistance. Days like today provide yet another opportunity to elevate the conversation surrounding mental health.

I recently had a fantastic discussion with Colin for the People of VU podcast, where his dedication and ethos came across so clearly. This has been a constant thread throughout his life – from his time studying Applied Science at Victoria University to training with the Footscray Football Club along the Maribyrnong River and now leading a major national health organisation.



Adam Shoemaker

Adam Shoemaker

Professor Adam Shoemaker has extensive experience in the Australian University sector and is one of Australia's leading researchers in Indigenous literature and culture. He commenced as the Vice-Chancellor and President of Victoria University in December 2020 after four years as Vice-Chancellor of Southern Cross University. He spent his formative years in a diverse range of fields, such as reviewer and columnist for The Australian, an ABC Canberra Radio programmer, serving as chair of the Brisbane Writers Festival in the mid-1990s and spending three years with the Delegation of the Commission of the European Committees.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello and welcome. I'm here to provide acknowledgement of country. For those who don't know me, I'm kj Karen Jackson, director of Moon Balletic. My genealogy tracks back to Moira Lakes in Bama Forest and Mount Hope in Pyramid Hill. Giving me my connections to Yorta, Yorta, and Barra language groups. There's a couple of things I'd like you to take away from my acknowledgement. The first is to remember the hidden history of Aboriginal people since invasion, our loss of language removal from country, and our new extinction from massacres and pandemics. The second is our strong and inherent connection to community and country. These connections have given us the resilience and courage to rebuild our languages, gain access to country, regenerate our cultural practices in acknowledging the traditional owners of the country on which you are now on. I'd like to sincerely thank them for their generosity and kindness in welcoming people onto their lands. Lands never seeded and lands that run deep into their being and spirit. I wish to pay my deep respect to the ancestors, elders, communities, and families of the Ang Wri on whose land I stand and who create connection and share knowledge with all of us. Thank you.

Speaker 1 00:01:16 Our hello colleagues and welcome to the People of VU podcast. Thanks again also to KJ for providing an acknowledgement of country at the beginning of every episode. It is not only just great, but really important to me and to everyone associated with Victoria University, and we are very grateful to her. I too acknowledge and pay my deepest respects to ancestors, elders, families of the traditional owners on all of our campuses, be they in Victoria or indeed in Sydney, and now in Brisbane. And extend that to wherever you may be listening to this now, it is a super delightful moment for us here today to introduce Colin Siri, who's the c e O of Lifeline Australia, and a view alumnus. Welcome to the podcast.

Speaker 2 00:02:00 Yeah, thanks, Adam. Great to be here.

Speaker 1 00:02:02 Super duper. And look, Colin, we met recently at the, the launch of our very deep relationship between Lifeline and vu. And of course, not only have you done many things, but we've recently formalized a big partnership and it's is the case that we have the first crisis call center in Melbourne's West with you. Do you wanna just say a little bit about that, how it's going?

Speaker 2 00:02:24 Yeah, look, it's a, it's a huge step forward for us. I think, you know, for me, Adam, it's a classic win-win. You know, from a student perspective, there's an opportunity to, you know, expand their studies and do some, you know, on the spot training, so to speak. There's actually opportunity for, for funding too, for work. You know, we, I know when, when I was going through vu, I was trying to get a kick at footy, and that's how we pa the way. And I know my, my kids sort of worked at McDonald's or the pub, but, so we think there's a great opportunity there. And certainly for US workforce is, is a, a huge challenge at the moment with the, you know, cost of living. Everything. A big percentage of our workforce are volunteers. And so that's been particularly challenging. And, and again, on the back of the, the challenges with youth mental health, to have a younger cohort of crisis supporters we think is fantastic. And, and I think Adam, to use, they use infrastructure for, you know, the broader areas of suicide prevention and crisis support is, I think, a, a huge step forward. I'm sure others will follow. Yeah,

Speaker 1 00:03:33 They certainly are watching and we're very grateful to you. It is the case that we're talking about the VU St. Alban's campus. For anyone listening, and there's about 10, I think, crisis support volunteers already answering calls. You were saying that people get a lot of calls, like the number of calls has actually increased.

Speaker 2 00:03:48 Yeah, so look at the moment between the, the telephone, text, and chat. So today, for example, I actually checked on the way here. We will have over 4,000 contacts for the day. Wow. Which is extraordinary when you think about it. Yeah. And I guess Adam, it really started to increase that summer of the Bush fires in 2019. So as a, in indicative comparison at that particular time, we would have around about 2,400 contacts a day. And then obviously there was covid after the bush fires, disasters, the floods, et cetera, you know, which is very, you know, in your back, back door. Here it is. And cost of living is, is the challenge at the moment. So, huge numbers. And that's why, you know, the sort of relationships with VU are critically important for us.

Speaker 1 00:04:40 It's, it's incredible to think, isn't it, that we've been almost in a state of, you might say, constant crisis since 2019 of a different sort, but there's one thing after another and people really feel it.

Speaker 2 00:04:51 No, there's no doubt. And there's a real cumulative impact. And I mean, there's, there's research to back that up. Yeah. But I, you know, if you were to, if I was to describe it, I would say that the level of anxiety in the, in the community is certainly heightened. And it doesn't take much. It can be an event, for example, you know, a celebrity suicide, some other event. Certainly we know then that, that people will be reaching out, which is a good thing. Yeah.

Speaker 1 00:05:20 It's good that they know they can, yeah, yeah. You know, much better.

Speaker 2 00:05:22 And I think that, you know, we talked about covid and struggling to find any positives outta covid. Yeah. But one of the things in the mental health space that it's certainly addressed some of those challenges with stigma. Mm. People were talking about it a lot more. Yes. So we, we believe that it, it is good that, that more people are reaching out and we need to be ready for that.

Speaker 1 00:05:44 I think it's fantastic. Honestly, I was so proud to be physically present, but also to visit the site, which I've now done two or three times, and to see the need and the need being met. It gives us every sense of satisfaction, but also a call to action as well.

Speaker 2 00:05:58 No, absolutely.

Speaker 1 00:05:58 You know, it really is. Now you mentioned a little bit about the past. You mentioned a little bit about studying here, so I'm just gonna wind the clock back a bit here. Not that far back, just a bit. That's a few a years. So you were actually telling me just earlier that you'd done some running around the perimeter of where the campus is in the olden days. What were you running for?

Speaker 2 00:06:18 Yes. Well, I was, I was trying to get a, get a kick with the Western Bulldogs back in the day. And so played a f l football very poorly. And it was interesting, at my time at Vu there were, I would say about half a dozen Western Bulldogs players. Wow. Some were a lot better than me. Some of your listeners would know the names of Kelvin Templeton and Jeff Jennings and Terry Wheeler. Sure. So I was involved with that crew. So we, we had a coach Royce Hart that on a Sunday morning in those days, we rarely won a game. And our recovery in inverted commas, you know, was about a, an eight or 10 K run on a Sunday morning. And also was a bit of a fitness test around Flemington racetrack around the ambulance track. So every time I see the Melbourne Cup, I feel slightly ill

Speaker 1 00:07:07 Right. Remembering the tape. The association isn't just again, you know, one to do with horse racing. Yeah. In fact, weirdly, as we said, we use that very amazing site for our graduations. And we have six of them coming up this week. And in fact, we'll have literally thousands, tens of thousands over the year of people and their supporters, family members graduating. It's amazing to see it really transforms that location. No, it's

Speaker 2 00:07:32 A great, it's a great precinct all up now, isn't

Speaker 1 00:07:35 It? Mm. Really is something. And the way that the river wins its way through. We were talking before, we just looked at the new Footscray Hospital across the road, and interestingly, when this university was established and you were there, you know, pretty close to the beginning, it was bounded by the Banong River and the front door effectively addressed the river. There's a beautiful bike path there and all the sports fields. Yeah, I remember. Yeah. You know, it comes beautifully up the edge of the escarpment and there we are. And now we have a chance to redefine the other side. Yeah. Which is on Ballarat Road itself. So, you know, there's gonna be a bridge across the road, an amazing thing. So I reckon it's gonna be another chance for us to do even more with you on another site too.

Speaker 2 00:08:11 No, no, exactly. I mean, that, that is such, such an impressive building and, and you think of the potential synergies moving forward. It's, it's outstanding.

Speaker 1 00:08:19 Oh, it is, it is really good. We often talk about students, 'cause we've just recently had two big open days, and many of them say, well, we're not really sure what we want to do. Were you sure what you wanted to study? When you were doing that running, did you know what you wanted to be or do?

Speaker 2 00:08:34 Yeah, I did. I, the human body has always been a, a fascinating, you know, organ for me, I, I, I was just sort ofd by what made the human body work, et cetera. And my dream was to be a physical education teacher. So I had the opportunity to get in here in the, the Bachelor of Applied Science, physical ex physical education in, in brackets, I think it was year two or year three after it started. So yes, very clearly, Adam, that's that health in its broader sense. And exercise physiology was my major, very keen to go in that path. And, and VU gave me the opportunity to go down there.

Speaker 1 00:09:15 That's, it's a great thing. Was it called the Bachelor of Applied Science? Yeah. Is that what it's called? Yeah. But it embraced all of those aspects.

Speaker 2 00:09:20 Yeah. I had, you know, physical education, obviously, and then you, you could specialize in areas and, and again, I, I'd love the exercise physiology Yeah. Side of things. And we had laboratories here and learn an enormous amount. Oh,

Speaker 1 00:09:36 It still is the case too. You know, you get so many people. In fact, you mentioned before when some of the players were, were students. We've had as many as 24 members of both the women's and men's teams in the a f l studying with us in various degrees. And it's not just in sport. Yeah.

Speaker 2 00:09:51 Well, we have a great relationship with the Bulldogs.

Speaker 1 00:09:53 Oh yeah. It's, it's all, it's been, I think it's been decades now. Yeah. And we've renewed it again for another, another five years, and it is very, very close. So there's gonna be a massively interesting sports and science, sports science facility Right. On the grounds at the Whitt Noble. We have also community basketball stadium, which we've endowed there. Yeah. And many of our staff, for example, in areas like remedial massage and the tafe, when people come off the field from training, that they're there to do that as well. Yeah. Look,

Speaker 2 00:10:17 The facilities, I think you were talking briefly before, again, back in the day, and I, you know, a lot of our lectures were in sort of portables on Ballarat Road and, and a lot of our activity was at Footscray Y M C A or the Footscray pool or whatever. But, but it was, we didn't need any more than that. It was such a, a great group of people, you know, it felt like a bit of a pioneering Mm. Sort of scenario. And, and I look at the, the building now and just so I guess proud of what VU have been able to do. I mean, it's, it's world leading. It's outstanding. Oh, it's,

Speaker 1 00:10:52 It's a great thing to see and to be honest, I mean, one of the things that attracted me was the sense of community and placement. Yeah. The idea that you really had a, what we call a public purpose institution that knew what it was, but also was really devoted to excellence as well. Yeah. You know, and both things come together here in, in a whole new way. Yeah. So, so let's think, so was it a four year program, or three year program you did,

Speaker 2 00:11:12 Or three years? It was three years. Three years. And then typically you would go and do a diploma of education and Right. Most of us ended up at Hawthorne Institute in the day, and then you'd become a phys ed teacher. That was, I guess, the bulk, although having said that, people went a whole range of different, different ways. And I think that was, I think for me, Adam, one of the, the real benefits of the course that I wouldn't think anyone would still be teaching physical education. But certainly, you know, a lot of students in my cohort have gone onto a whole range of different careers, health generally at the core of it. Yeah. If, if I can use health, health in that, that broader sense. But yeah, typically three. Um-huh. And then a year of dip out and then off you went and did you teach? Yeah. Yep.

Speaker 1 00:12:01 Yeah. So what was that like?

Speaker 2 00:12:03 Look, it was good. And again, I was trying to get a, get a kick playing footy. In those days you could go and do your day job and then go and train at night and play on the weekends and, and, and that sort of thing. So I taught at Preston Tech, ah, which was, which was an interesting school in those days, and certainly learned a lot. But I, I guess I was fortunate the fact I was, again, trying to run around and, and get a kick that it, it sort of opened things up for the students. So taught for a number of years and then decided that there were other things to do. Okay.

Speaker 1 00:12:36 And could it give us a sense of the years that you were there, just to sort of situate the timing approximately?

Speaker 2 00:12:40 So, I, my first year at, at VU was 1976. Okay. And then I did, I actually did my knee playing football, had a reconstruction. So I remember in those days, again, it was eight weeks in plaster. And trying to get around the, the campus in a full plaster was, was interesting, fun,

Speaker 1 00:13:01 Very hilly place.

Speaker 2 00:13:02 And, and again, the facilities were handy trying to do the rehab out out of that as well.

Speaker 1 00:13:07 Oh, it's, well, you've o obviously recovered incredibly well. So, you know, that's, that's a, that's a great thing. Look, we, we wanted to ask you about mental health Yeah. And that sector too, because it's so important. Yeah. You know, we've alluded alluded to that earlier. Was there a defining moment for you when you became really passionate about mental health?

Speaker 2 00:13:24 Yeah. Look, apart from, I think, I think like all of us, Adam, it would be unusual for any of us not to be impacted personally, either through family, friends, et cetera. So certainly that was, that was my case as well. But it was really, my job prior to Lifeline was c e o of an organization called Health Direct Australia. And that's an organization that runs all the digital health programs for the government. So the 24 7 nurse triage service after hours gp, the Aged Care Gateway, which is the only way into the aged care system. And in that role, I was given the job to try and develop the mental health gateway for the country. So, one way in, right? So say in the States, for example, you got triple nine for emergency, they've now just launched a 9, 8 8, which is one way into mental health.

Speaker 2 00:14:20 Right. So we were contemplating a triple one here. And it was interesting. During that process, I just found out that there was a range of really well-meaning people, but it was so fragmented the sector and very hard for the help seeker. So that was, I thought there was a way, particularly with an organization like Lifeline, which is obviously one of the bigger organizations in mental health, that we could step out of our own backyard and play a role in the sector. Yep. And, and the relationship with VU is part of that, using existing infrastructure and capability at Lifeline, we've, we've literally just completing an amalgamation with another mental health organization, which is very non lifeline, but it'll be a fantastic opportunity where we'll be able to seamlessly deliver help seekers through. So I guess that was the trigger for me having gone through that process. It didn't get up the gateway and to say, well, hang on, I, I, I believe there's another way. The phone call came about the opportunity for Lifeline. It was serendipitous and, and off we went. Wow.

Speaker 1 00:15:26 And, and you know, sometimes these things, one, it's not necessarily a setback, but you know, something which almost happened leads you to something that does happen. Yeah. Has that happened, occur, occurred to you in your life more than once?

Speaker 2 00:15:38 Yeah. Look, I, I, again, meeting my wife, I guess, yeah. It's Strat well, high school at 13 and 15 is probably, I turned, went into the corridor when she'd been thrown outta the class. So that was a starting point there. But, so yeah. Look, lots of, I guess as you get down the tracks a bit, you, you start to think about the sliding door moments. But I think in that case it was what we've got, what we've got now I think in the mental health sector, in the country is sort of some grownups running the bigger organizations. So there's, there's amazing, for example, as I sit here today, tomorrow my chair and I are, are presenting to the Beyond Blue Board Right. About how do we more effectively work together as well. You know, beyond Blue are a large mental health organization as well. So I think that we are, we are making progress and we'll get there. Isn't that good? And the government are really cheering us on,

Speaker 1 00:16:34 I think they would tell us, just for those who are listening, what's, what are the main differences in what you do and Beyond Blue Does?

Speaker 2 00:16:39 So beyond Blue would be more sort of depression, anxiety, if you look, think of a spectrum Yes. Of mental health and Lifeline, traditionally is, is suicide prevention, crisis support. Yeah. So I guess a bit of a misconception out that out of those 4,000 contacts we will get today, there will be around 30 of those roughly where we will need to send police, ambulance, you know, a a very significant event. Yes. The vast majority of other calls are as we, you know, a loneliness Um-huh. Relationship issues, I've lost my job, cost of living at the moment, et cetera. So we cross over a bit with Beyond Blue in that regard. Yeah. But, but very much, and, and that's part of the discussion tomorrow we're gonna make sure that we don't step over each other Yes. And that we, because there's only a finite amount of resources in the sector, either from government or corporate support, or universities, et cetera. So we, we just wanna make sure that we're, we're in our lanes, that we actually compliment each other. Yes. And that we can, we actually put a submission to government where no matter where someone came into our organizations, they would end up at the right place. So we're gonna continue that journey. That's a great

Speaker 1 00:18:02 Idea. Yeah. And we'll probably be cross referring, I would

Speaker 2 00:18:04 Think. Absolutely. Yeah. Warm transfers, you know, is, is, is Nirvana where, and that's why we, we have amalgamated with this other organization, this organization has Men's Line, for example. Right. And a lot of our callers are referrers into Men Line. So instead of saying Colin or Adam, men's line number is blah, blah, blah, we hang on Adam, we're just gonna put you through now.

Speaker 1 00:18:28 I'll transfer you directly. Yeah.

Speaker 2 00:18:29 I mean, look, if someone's plucked up the courage to call Lifeline, we wanna make sure that their, their journey is as seamless as it can be. I

Speaker 1 00:18:37 Think that's amazingly good. You know, amazingly good. It, it's, you mentioned before that the people, when they say call, we include, you know, chat or other forms text. Yeah. Is it increasing the number of people texting in? Absolutely. Yeah.

Speaker 2 00:18:48 Yeah. A lot. And I think we've, and that's where, you know, the youth crisis supporters that, you know, from VU are a good example where what we've found is that it's, it's a younger group. We fast tracked 24 7 text on the back of Covid for two reasons. One, the amount of calls, particularly in Lockdowns, particularly here in Victoria Yeah. The second time. Yeah. The amount of calls related to domestic and family violence went through the roof. Wow. And if someone tragically is caught in that situation in a small apartment with a partner Mm. They're not gonna be able to call, but they're going be able to text. Ah, yes. Again, the impact of Covid on youth was well documented. Again, young people aren't necessarily gonna pick up the phone, but they'll text. Yeah. So we've kept reasonably quiet about text and chat. We, we obviously let people know, but we've done a submission to the government, or we believe by 2026 it will surpass. Right. The telephone,

Speaker 1 00:19:50 The dominant Yeah. Mode.

Speaker 2 00:19:52 Yeah. So at the moment, the telephone calls sort of 1.2, 1.3 million calls a year, and we believe that text and chat will be up at that level as well.

Speaker 1 00:20:00 Wow. And just so I know, does someone ever text and ask you to ring back or do they all they want you to be in like fashion texting for the reasons you mentioned

Speaker 2 00:20:09 It? It can be a bit of both. Yeah. And I guess where we want to get to Adam is that we can change channels during the Right. The interaction Yeah. Where the recommendation be. But look, we think it's, it'd be great to have a chat Yes, yes. And now as well. So yeah, the sometimes, but generally if they've come in through that channel, that's where they want to. Interesting. They wanna be, and look, the, and the website for us is a whole other channel as well. It's not just a website. It's where people perhaps aren't ready to call or text or chat or are looking for advice for someone they can go, we have self support toolkits. And again, that's where the Beyond Blues of the world, et cetera, have got some great information that we, instead of reinventing the wheel Yep. We will hopefully utilize their information. So there's a range of ways that people can, can get access, but we also, we have 11,000 staff and volunteers around the country. And a lot of those work in the community as well. Yes. So it's not just the digital services. No, no. It's, it's work particularly in regional areas.

Speaker 1 00:21:14 And, and fascinatingly, I think I mentioned it too when we first met, but I, my stepfather volunteered for many years for the Samaritans in the uk Yeah, yeah. And did a lot of nighttime work. In fact, that was almost exclusively his time, you know, was was midnight sort of shift. And he said that his only drawback sometimes was he had a bit of an Aussie accent. And so sometimes they had, he had to explain where he was from, you know, and then people were fine. Yeah. But I guess one of the things that it's an advantage is having people from all over the world no. Involved Absolutely. In your organization.

Speaker 2 00:21:41 Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's, you know, because what are the, what are the, the gap stroke opportunities and, and particularly in the, you know, in the western suburbs of Melbourne here, you know, we, I I think, I think I I may have mentioned you along the journey, Adam, we've introduced a, a First Nations program, but I think there is a real gap in the cold community. Yes. So there is technology now where text can be translated real time and things like that. So, we'll, we're trying to get segmented in terms of how we, how we support people. I

Speaker 1 00:22:16 Think that's marvelous thing. And, and look, just, just briefly, you, you alluded to the First Nations community. Have you got a special program in that area?

Speaker 2 00:22:24 Yes. Look, we've probably, 18 months ago, we launched a program called 13 Yarn. And the, the rationale of the program was to use the lifeline infrastructure that had already been funded by government and developed, I guess Adam in a sense. Then, then we get out of the way. So we have 61st Nations people employed some in head office, national office to actually run and develop the programs. And then we have 50 crisis supporters out in community. And Wow, there's a real advantage, you know, the training for the, for the 13 yarn service, then our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christ supporters go back, go into community, can play a role there as well. And that's the, you know, I think, you know, with the, the young Christ supporters you would've met at Saint Bans, they, they can add real value around the campus or in their, their lives as well, because they, they know what to ask or not to ask or know what to look for, et cetera. But 13 y we're particularly proud. We had our 30000th call recently. And, and particularly, you know, on the back of the voice scenario, we believe that that service is gonna be in high demand. Yeah.

Speaker 1 00:23:38 Yeah. Sadly, the, as you say, any major event seems to be causing this. And of course, as a reminder, even this week, you know, this Thursday the 14th of September is, are you okay day and you know Yeah. As another example of where we really focus on the need, but also the delivery and the openness Yeah.

Speaker 2 00:23:54 To help. No, exactly. And, and yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day. And so again, we, we do a lot of work again, trying to diminish stigma and to get people to talk about, and our campaign, for lack of a better term, is that suicide doesn't discriminate. And we've actually had a range of programs where we've got two people sitting on a couch talking from vastly different lives. Yes. Yet they're impacted.

Speaker 1 00:24:26 I think it's incredibly important. You know, we would very much like to think that whatever we do now is prologue and we're gonna continue. Yeah. You know, it really needs to, to do more. But, you know, as C C E O of Lifeline, it's, you've seen a whole, you know, evolution. We've talked about the change, talked in support. We've also talked about the needs and how they're changing. What do you think is going to be, aside from the fact that it's moving towards text, are there any other features which are changing, that are kind of broad strokes of features that are changing in that, in the community?

Speaker 2 00:24:55 Well, I think the expectation that it's a more connected system, as I mentioned earlier, there is no doubt, the feedback we get is that it is a, a complex system. Yes. Hard to get in, hard to navigate. Yep. Hard to get a result, you know, so I, for us, I, I think the, the channels, we can expand those, we can, we can put specific services related, related to specific groups of the community, but it's how we, how we continue the journey for them, I think is that that's what people are telling us they want. Yes. And that's, that's why we've taken some of the actions that we have.

Speaker 1 00:25:42 And does that mean that if someone calls up, they ask for a particular person to have the same voice? Or does that matter?

Speaker 2 00:25:48 No. So Lifeline at the moment is it's anonymous. Yes. The people don't leave their names, et cetera. So each interaction Yeah. We're, we're starting again. Yes. Even though we know we have a range of callers. Yes. That's, that call us very frequently and Yes. One of the, I think Adam, the opportunities is to do a program with that particular group as well, which becomes more of a case management. I

Speaker 1 00:26:21 Was wondering if you might

Speaker 2 00:26:22 Yeah, yeah. Go on that. So again, once the organization that we're partnering with have a professional workforce, so they have psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health nurses, et cetera. So we would have a, we know the phone number of those people that work through. So we would talk to them about the opportunity to go through and, and actually actually have a, you know, a case management model where it might be, Colin, I'll ring you, we'll ring you at lunchtime, we'll ring you at yes tea time. We'll ring you at night and make sure you're, you know, tucked in your pajamas ready for bed. So more of a proactive case management. 'cause the frequent callers are, it's a, it's a very complex group from people from, you know, loneliness through to people who've got some significant challenges and are waiting in between, you know, meetings with psychologists and psychiatrists, et cetera. So it, it is complex, but we are, we plan to launch that program within the next six months. Oh, that's quite interesting. Which is really exciting.

Speaker 1 00:27:22 Yeah. I was sort of anticipating you were going in that direction. Yeah. It sounded like, you know, it was, yeah.

Speaker 2 00:27:25 Well we had, last week for example, we had 10 individuals accounted for 12% of the total call volume.

Speaker 1 00:27:32 Wow. Yeah. Wow. Well that gives you some insight Yeah. Into the need and,

Speaker 2 00:27:35 And what, you know, obviously the aim is to look over after those people in a, in, in, in a more effective way. But also then obviously it allows for us to get to other people. That's great. That are waiting as well.

Speaker 1 00:27:49 Now you've mentioned our students a number of times. Would you have to be a student in any particular field to be in a, a volunteer? Yeah.

Speaker 2 00:27:57 No. So our, our volunteers, stroke crisis supporters are from all walks of life. Yes. I think the advantage, Adam, of the, of this arrangement that we've done is that, again, as I mentioned, the benefits for even placement and for us as well there, there're obviously what we find is that some, some of our volunteers are now younger people actually come on to work with Lifeline. So I mentioned before we about 30% of the workforce in the crisis supporters are actually paid. Right. So there is the opportunity, like your dad during the night. And in the Samaritans we pay pe people to through the night. So again, there is some financial benefits there, but that's not the real reason behind it. But no, anyone within, you know, within the university, within the Yes. You know, within the alumni or that That's right. We're, we're always looking for people to, to volunteer. I look, I would, I'm fortunate I get letters and comments from peoples whose lives literally we've saved. And I would say in terms of volunteering, there's no greater purpose than wonderful volunteering for Lifeline. Yeah. It's not like, it's not like cooking the sausage at the kids soccer game. It's a different, it's a different volunteering and yes, there's a, you know, obviously a fair amount of training involved, et cetera, but it'll be a set of skills that you can take anywhere.

Speaker 1 00:29:30 Hugely important. Yeah. And any age group, whether staff or student or as you say absolutely alumni, it wouldn't, it wouldn't matter. No. And how long does the training take?

Speaker 2 00:29:38 Well, it takes, we're, we're trying to do a range of options. So there's an accreditation at the moment, and we're finding that some people are, don't necessarily want to go down that track. So it can take up to six months to get fully trained through, it's about 150 hours. But part of that is you're already on the phone. Yes. So you're being, being supervised with the texts, for example, the training takes eight weeks. It can be done online. And we're looking to introduce that across.

Speaker 1 00:30:10 That's a great move.

Speaker 2 00:30:11 Yeah. I, I think just, you know, contemporary ways of training it, it is a subject obviously that we need to make sure, and the individual needs to make sure Yeah. That they've, they've done the work and they know the answers, but all the way through, they're supported, you know, with, with someone we have remote in shift support who can listen and, and help people along the way. And some of our cross supporters work remotely work from home. Okay. Which is interesting. Yeah.

Speaker 1 00:30:38 Well, and I guess they would've had to during Covid too. Absolutely. There's time. Absolutely. You know, it would've must've been essential. So when you look back on it, and it's been a, a few years, but not too many, just the right number. And it's from the time of being a, you know, a VU graduate.

Speaker 2 00:30:51 Yeah.

Speaker 1 00:30:51 Then alumnus, then becoming, you know, working through all these different organizations, be they sporting clubs or Health Direct or National Safety Council. Now Lifeline, what, what were, was there any surprises along the way, you know, things that you really didn't expect in your career?

Speaker 2 00:31:09 I think probably the, the challenges with people.

Speaker 1 00:31:14 Yes.

Speaker 2 00:31:15 Yes. Which is, no, no kidding Sherlock. But I think, and again, that one of the advantages of, of the course here, it's interesting that one of my lecturers is still my mentor in life. Wow. Yeah. Chap called Wayne Bishop, who was a, one of the founding lecturers in the, in the physical education program. And Wayne still mentors me to this day. So they had this sort of can-do attitude again, pioneering spirit, take it on, which I think has gone, you know, I still speak to colleagues I went through, has gone through us all the way through, but the, the challenges with the, you know, I think I've said about the human, the body and the human being is fascinating to me and just managing people. Yeah. You know, I think for students that EQ side of things is, is just sort of mission critical and make, make sure you get that side of it right.

Speaker 2 00:32:15 Yes. Because at the end of the day, it's, it's about a group of people on a mission to achieve something and you, you need to have everyone on board. So it's been, I guess the complexities of the human beings. I think also, Adam, that I'd encourage the stu if any students are listening, just to be flexible in your thinking. I, if you would've told me, I would've gone from the phys ed teacher to, you know, running a corporate health business to being c e o of an a f L club to be, you know, running Lifeline, I would've said, you're kidding. So I, I think it's just to be open, be flexible as opportunities present themselves. Don't knock them out of the way. You'll be surprised. And, and to continue, I have a full, a real pH and this, this comes from Wayne Bishop actually, that, you know, I, two sort of six words sayings be in the game of life.

Speaker 2 00:33:12 I think the game of life is actually quite challenging if you do it properly, you know, in all sorts of areas. You know, the, the rhythm of life is really interesting, but the best is yet to come. Yes. You know, I, I've arguably had my most important job and will probably be my last big c e o job. So, you know, at a, at not a ripe young age, I was fortunate enough to get the lifeline gig, and that was based on a mentality of the, you know, tonight's gonna be better than this afternoon, tomorrow's gonna be better than today. And that's really been something that's sort of carried me through.

Speaker 1 00:33:48 That's amazing. I I really love the idea that continuity, respect, togetherness, and having a mentor that's continued all the way through that gives us incredible pride to think that's happened. And we want to, you know, on behalf of you as well, thank him for doing that. Yeah. I think and thanking any mentor who does that?

Speaker 2 00:34:04 Well, Wayne, Wayne was, you know, I think, I think we were chatting before, I remember coming from my first interview in a house on Ballarat Road to get into the course, and Wayne was the person that interviewed me. And here we are a couple of years later, still engaging.

Speaker 1 00:34:20 It's a marvelous thing. We're talking actually about graduations this week, and one of our thoughts is to go back and ask students to nominate a mentor and to invite the mentor to come to the graduation as well as the family. Yeah, absolutely. We thought that would be a good way to really make it stick. And, you know, the very thing you're talking about, these things are not small. They're lasting and they're crucial. Yeah.

Speaker 2 00:34:42 The, the impact of that group, and again, I won't go through all the names, but, you know, pioneering comes into, in, in, into mind and just the impact they had. I know a lot of my, my colleagues through that time have, have gone on to, you know, quite varied careers, but, you know, really having a real significant impact, you know, on the community and, and working for purpose, et cetera. And, you know, a lot of them achieved a lot in sport. We had, you know, Australian basketballs in the, in the course, et cetera. And just a great group of people who, you know, as a, as a 17, 18 year old person, you're, you're a little bit moldable at that stage. And so those people still, you know, have a huge impact on my thinking today.

Speaker 1 00:35:35 It's great stuff. Well, you know, from past, present, future, I love the idea of, you know, the, the best is yet to come, but also togetherness is yet to come even more so than today. Yeah, absolutely. You know, really is the case. So Colin, I'm gonna say thank you because I've enjoyed every second of this has gone like lightning, but the truth is I've learned a lot and I learned a lot about, not just you, but about this organization from you. And I want to thank you so much for being part of it today. Thank you again. Great. Thanks Adam. It's been an absolute pleasure. It's a great thing.

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