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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5170

Mr MATHESON (Macarthur) (21:40): It is no secret that I hold great pride in all of the community organisations and charities across Macarthur, so it is a great honour to stand here today to pay tribute to one of these amazing charities and its hardworking staff and volunteers. I am proud to be an ambassador of Lifeline Macarthur, which celebrates 35 years of supporting my community this year. Through its telephone crisis support, financial counselling and suicide bereavement support, Lifeline Macarthur has been an instrumental force in targeting and addressing mental health issues across the region and supporting those in crisis. Together with the University of Western Sydney, Lifeline Macarthur also offers psychology clinics for a range of mental health concerns including obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression, fears and stress. The anxiety and OCD clinic now runs four days per week to meet the demand.

Lifeline's financial counselling service helps with a number of issues including advocacy and negotiations, referral services, debt recovery, bankruptcy and budgeting. The service works closely with other support groups in my community to ensure long-term results for these residents so they can manage their own funds into the future.

At Lifeline's telephone crisis support centre at Smeaton Grange, more than 18,000 calls were answered last year alone by 100 volunteers. But, despite this huge accomplishment, times are tough for many in my electorate and more volunteers are needed. Across the nation there were 52,294 calls to the crisis support line in December last year. This number grew in the following months with 55,000 calls answered in January and 1,844 calls per day answered during February. Then more than 2,600 people reached out to the crisis line every day in March. Sadly, with the growing number of calls coming into the centre, some went unanswered. This is why Lifeline Macarthur is holding its next telephone crisis support training course later this month. I encourage anyone who has considered volunteering to contact Lifeline and sign up for this course.

To do such wonderful things for the people in my community, Lifeline Macarthur relies on many supporters. The organisation could not function without an army of volunteers in its telephone crisis centre, at Lifeline shops, events and fundraising activities. A volunteer dinner will be held on 19 July to thank the volunteers who support the programs run in my electorate. Local businesses across the region also offer a huge amount of support to Lifeline through its regular fundraising activities. More than 200 people attended the 2013 annual dinner in March at Western Suburbs Leagues Club. Through its balloon sales, a raffle, silent auction, ticket sales and sponsors, $35,700 was raised for Lifeline Macarthur.

This weekend I will volunteer at Lifeline Macarthur's Big Book Fair at its book shop on Queen Street in Narellan. The book fair will run throughout the long weekend and is expected to be one of the organisation's biggest fundraisers this year. It is a fantastic idea to use one of Lifeline's existing retail stores to boost fundraising for the charity and give local book lovers the chance to help raise money to support Lifeline Macarthur's free community services. Unfortunately, the seven Lifeline shops across the region are not immune to the current economic climate and the harsh conditions faced by retailers across the country. Market forces outside their control have seen sales drop and budgets not met. In March Lifeline celebrated its 50th anniversary with a 50 per cent off sale across its stores. The retail shops generated an additional $12,000 collectively, which is a great achievement for the retail staff, volunteers and Lifeline's marketing team. Our local media helped to promote the sale, and I am pleased to say are always a great support to Lifeline Macarthur and its community initiatives.

The annual Macarthur Lions Club Anzac Run is also a supporter of Lifeline Macarthur, donating funds to Lifeline's suicide crisis support service. Hundreds of people from my community turn out to take part in the run each year. This year 91-year-old Jock Wylie was the oldest to take part in the event and support the cause. Well done, Jock. Coming up on 26 July Lifeline Macarthur will encourage locals to take part in Lifeline's national campaign, Stress Down Day. The initiative to reduce stress and raise awareness for Lifeline involves wearing your pyjamas or slippers to work and hosting a stress free morning tea.

Today I would like to acknowledge all of the people who support Lifeline Macarthur, so it can continue to run its invaluable programs in my community, from volunteers in local retail shops and gift wrapping stalls to its corporate partners, ambassadors, friends and most importantly its staff members, who go above and beyond to make this organisation the great success that it is. On behalf of those you have helped, I would like to thank you for your commitment and dedication to a wonderful cause. Lifeline Macarthur brings great comfort to the people of Macarthur, especially those doing it tough. It is nice to know that, when things do go wrong or circumstances change, there is a highly respected, longstanding organisation in my community who are dedicated to helping others.

Lifeline Macarthur is a great asset to the Macarthur region. The organisation offers vital support for local residents, business owners, pensioners and families in my electorate, and for this reason I hope to see its support continue in my community for many years to come.