Focus shift to ease the pain

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 13-Oct-2017

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Just after Christmas last year, a colleague of mine was standing out the front of his Bendigo home, waving goodbye to family members about to embark on the journey back to their respective homes, when he was overcome with concern for their safety on the roads during the busy Christmas holiday
season.

He’s since recounted his apprehension and uneasiness about this to me, and it’s something I’ve not forgotten.

Victorians are overwhelmed each year with the message about how dangerous it can be when travelling on our roads, and this message is put to us all daily via the extensive advertising campaigns commissioned by the Transport Accident Commission on behalf of the Victorian government. The TAC has done a brilliant job over the past couple of decades to reduce the state’s road toll, and deserves our collective praise and thanks for the world class work it continues to do.

My colleague also said the TAC works with a budget of more than $1.5 billion each year and does a fantastic job on promoting road safety and awareness, as well as addressing the loss of life, the repercussions of serious road accidents and the care and support of accident survivors.

He then pointed out to me that Victorians were 2.5 times more likely to die from suicide than they are from being involved in a traffic accident, and that organisations such as Lifeline are in dire need of further support, having only pennies to fund their valuable work when compared to the TAC.

Approximately 45 per cent of all Victorians will experience mental illness in their lifetime, and in May’s state budget, the government allocated a record $325.7 million towards mental health services across the state.

Lifeline’s annual report for 2015/16 shows that the 13 11 14 service answered a record 975,144 calls from Australians in crisis. Alarmingly, a further 143,400 calls went unanswered.

Lifeline says it needs to improve, integrate and innovate. 

It also needs more funding.

I’ve often written about how much it annoys me that volunteer organisations such as State Emergency Service and Country Fire Authority have to work so hard to raise funds to support their own existence and core business, when their volunteers’ time could be spent doing other things, had the organisation been adequately funded in the first place.

My colleague’s angst is another reason why I’m still annoyed.

If you or anyone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Headspace on 1800 650 890.

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