National program manager Marjorie Anderson.

Increased demand for Indigenous helpline

13YARN supports people in distress around the New Year period, Survival Day and through political and news moments such as the Voice referendum.
May 30, 2024

SERVICE demand for the Indigenous helpline 13YARN has increased by nearly 50 per cent in the first two years of operation, from around 17,000 calls in 2022 to 25,000 calls in 2023.

National program manager Marjorie Anderson said the service’s rapid growth had been responsive to the urgent need for culturally safe and confidential crisis support.

“Over the last two years, the demand for help is far beyond what we ever expected and continues to grow.

“We have seen 27 days with more than twice, and sometimes nearly three times the average number of calls from help seekers,” she said.

“Many of these peaks coincide with sorry business, deaths in community and challenging moments in community life.

“We also support people in distress around the New Year period, Survival Day and through political and news moments such as the Voice referendum in which calls were up by 40 per cent.”

In 2022, 16 per cent of callers cited racism as the reason for their distress, rising to 19 per cent in 2023.

This statistic continues to rise, and currently sits at 26 per cent in the calendar year to date.

“Amid news reporting of the Productivity Commission’s Closing the Gap report we saw around 43 per cent of calls related to racism, and again, the release of Closing the Gap data saw 47 per cent of calls connected to racism.

“These two days represent the single highest figures to date,” Mrs Anderson said.

“Unfortunately, one of the most significant drivers for people seeking help has been racism in the aftermath of the referendum.

“It is sad this is the experience of our people, but we are pleased 13YARN can offer safe, confidential and culturally appropriate support.”

Lifeline’s 13 11 14 crisis helpline refers around 60 per cent of help seekers to other programs and services, bridging the gap between clinical and non-clinical support.

In 13YARN’s case, there are not always equivalent culturally safe services to refer people on to, especially in remote locations.

“If we are to truly close the gap, more homegrown culturally safe services in regional and remote locations, designed and run by local Aboriginal people, are critically needed.

“As an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led, designed and run service, 13YARN promotes trust among help seekers who know they will be yarning with someone who understands them.

“There is always hope at the end of a yarn.

“Our teams listen without judgement.

“The conversation is confidential, and we are a safe space for people to yarn about worries, needs and concerns.”
If you, or someone you know are feeling worried or no good, you can connect with 13YARN (13 92 76) available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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