BATHURST’S Lifeline call centre will remain open, despite a funding crisis almost shutting offices in Orange and Dubbo.
A crisis meeting held on Wednesday revealed Lifeline Central West’s (LLCW) future in the Central West is uncertain due to a lack of funding and it will be “lucky to maintain current service levels”.
And the first thing to be axed under a massive restructure will be the hugely popular Soar, Ride and Shine event in Bathurst.
The event, held for the first time in May this year, attracted a crowd that totalled more than 8000 people and raised $50,000.
“LLCW simply does not now have the resources to undertake the event,” the charity’s executive director Alex Ferguson said.
The inaugural Soar, Ride and Shine was so successful that the 2017 show was to be extended to two days, and Bathurst Regional Council had already committed $10,000 of in-kind support.
“There will be other repercussions,” Mr Ferguson said.
He said the closure of the other Central West call centres was almost a reality.
“The closure of the Orange and Dubbo Lifeline centres, after 33 and 16 years respectively, was also narrowly averted but not without dissension,” he said.
Mr Ferguson said the potential closure of the Orange and Dubbo centres had nothing to do with performance.
“It is an issue of funding from the NSW Department of Health to NSW Lifeline centres,” he said.
Mr Ferguson said the Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo centres were classed by Lifeline Australia as one centre, rather than three separate entities, and as such were forced to share funding.
He said this means the centres have missed out on $800,000 in funding during the last four years.
“Unless a resolution between LLCW and Lifeline Australia can be brokered, LLCW will likely lose another significant amount of funding,” Mr Ferguson said.
Lifeline Central West will be lucky to maintain current service levels.
“This will impact LLCW’s work in an area that equates to one-third of regional NSW where the statistics show that the rate of suicide alone is almost three times greater than in the cities.”
However, he said most funding goes to Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.
Following Mr Ferguson’s comments, a Lifeline Australia spokesperson said the funding arrangement, which had been in place since 2012, would be looked into.
“Lifeline Australia has also invited Lifeline Central West to work in and on an internal group to address Lifeline's national rules regarding Centre status,” the spokesperson said. “We have also offered Lifeline Central West our willingness to work through the Centre's specifically financial problems.”
The spokesperson said Lifeline Australia remained committed to stopping suicide in rural, regional and remote areas.
“We will ensure that our 13 11 14 crisis line will not be compromised to the people of the Central West NSW.”
Call Lifeline on 13 11 14.