60 years of Lifeline:

NEWSS to be established and delivered

Yesterday marked 60 years since Lifeline opened its telephone lines for the first time to help some of the most vulnerable members of our society. It was also a day that Australian emergency workers were guaranteed that they will additional mental health support through the establishment of the National Emergency Workers Support Service (NEWSS).

Emma McBride (centre) with Tracey Andrews and SAm Harvey from the Black Dog Institute.

17 March 2023


SINCE 16 March 1963 Lifeline has provided Australians in crisis with a listening ear to be heard and a community-based network of support.

In that time Lifeline has built a network of 41 centres across the country, answered approximately 23 million calls and now receives a call from a help seeker every 30 seconds.

For 60 years Lifeline Australia has provided crisis support for people who are feeling overwhelmed or who are having difficulty coping or staying safe. It provides confidential one-to-one support with trained crisis supporters.


Assistant Minister, Emma McBride said “We are incredibly proud of our strong collaboration with Lifeline Australia.

“Since 1963 Lifeline Australia has seen the introduction of the Australian dollar, the building of the Sydney Opera House, the creation of Medicare and the legalisation of same-sex marriage. It has been a constant in modern Australian life.

“Like so many important Australian charities, Lifeline Australia is supported by trusted volunteers right around the country.


“This 60-year anniversary is a celebration of Lifeline, and all those they have helped in their journey.”

Lifeline Australia has become synonymous with suicide prevention, as the leading crisis support service for those in need. Its trusted service is now a critical component of Australia’s suicide prevention framework.


Volunteers from across Australia have kept the lines of Lifeline open every hour of every day, allowing Lifeline to deliver on its mission to support Australians in times of crisis. Over Lifeline’s 60 years, more than 100,000 volunteers have been trained as crisis supporters.


Last year, with support from the Australian Government, Lifeline launched 13YARN, a national crisis support line for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Lifeline services are available at 13 11 14.


And 16 March was equally important for Australia’s emergency workers.


The Government is providing $4 million to the Black Dog Institute to establish and deliver the NEWSS, which is an expansion of the National Bush Fire Support Service. This service will be extended to all emergency services workers who respond to national disasters such as bushfires, floods, and the COVID-19 pandemic.


Through the NEWSS, emergency services workers will be able to access an online mental health self-assessment and triage service including access up to 12 free sessions with a clinical psychologist face to face or via telehealth.


This integrated and tailored approach will make it easier for these essential workers to search for, navigate and determine their eligibility for support and appropriate resources. Users with more severe mental health symptoms will be linked directly to either the Black Dog Institute’s Depression Clinic or the University of New South Wales Traumatic Stress Clinic.


39 per cent of emergency responders are diagnosed with a mental health condition at some point in their life. They are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at a rate two times higher than the general population.


Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management Australia, Murray Watt said “We know that responding to relentless natural disasters, along with the pandemic, has no doubt put strain on our emergency service workers.


“Australians are so grateful for their tireless efforts, which have kept communities safe in times of need, and it’s only right that we ensure they are supported too.


“I’m very pleased to support this cause, which aims to make getting help easier.”


Ms McBride said “The mental health impacts of natural disasters and emergencies can present over a long period of time.”


“Australia’s emergency services workers and volunteers are critical to how significant events are responded to by governments.”


“This service is part of a broader Government response to support the mental health and well-being of Australians after disasters.”


The service will also provide specialist mental health training to GPs and other health care professionals to help provide appropriate support and referral options to emergency services workers.

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