Thursday, 10 May 2012

Lifeline

Extract from NSW Legislative Assembly Hansard and Papers Thursday 10 May 2012

Mr ROB STOKES (Pittwater—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.55 p.m.]: I support the motion of the member for Kiama. I commend the wonderful work of Lifeline, its volunteers and paid staff. I acknowledge the significant financial contribution of the State Government with last year's announcement by the Premier of $2 million in recurrent funding support for the incredible work that Lifeline volunteers and staff carry out across New South Wales and Australia. As other members have articulated, it is now almost 50 years since the late Reverend Dr Sir Alan Walker first saw the need to establish an organisation such as Lifeline. It is instructive that he used the term "lifeline" to describe the work of this organisation. Lifeline provides a voice, a listening ear and support for people in the depths of depression, anxiety and loneliness. These people literally need a lifeline, someone who will listen, a friendly voice offering human care and love, a real and genuine relationship to lift them out of the pit of despair they are in.

It is appalling that in our society people can fall between the gaps into a morass where they feel there are no options. Lifeline fills that gap. Incredibly, Lifeline has operated for almost 50 years without government support. The extraordinary testament to the efficiency and dedication of its volunteers is that this amazing organisation, which was initially set up by the Wesley Mission, has run on the smell of an oily rag. It is well overdue for government to support this organisation financially. It was terrific that funding for Lifeline was one of the first significant funding announcements the Premier made in 2011 on assuming office. We believe in this organisation; we believe in its important work for the people of New South Wales. Lifeline provides an important service for those weighed down by mental illness, financial concerns, or family issues. As we have heard from Robert Putnam and other researchers, one of the problems of western countries is social isolation and loss of community.

This massive problem crosses our societies. Every member in this place could attest that while some fabulous organisations, community groups, churches and sporting groups work in their communities, too many people live alone outside community without family support. These people particularly are at risk and they are the people to whom Lifeline offers that community connection and support. It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the wonderful contribution of one of my predecessors as the member for Pittwater—John Brogden. Many members retire from this place, move on and get on with their lives, but John has remained involved in looking after our community. I commend his efforts as national patron of Lifeline. He is an incredible man, a close friend and mentor of mine. It is a wonderful testament to the people of this place that they go on to serve their community this way. It would be remiss not to mention Lucy Brogden, who, along with John, supports Lifeline in her capacity as patron of Northern Beaches Lifeline. I commend the motion to the House.