Changing lives: What it’s like being a crisis-helpline volunteer

by admin on September 30th, 2019

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“I was really nervous taking my first call,” Lifeline volunteer Mani recalls.

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“Thinking, when I take that call, are the words going to come into my brain, and out of my mouth? Or am I going to go blank?”

Mani is a volunteer with Lifeline, a crisis support hotline and online service, helping hundreds of thousands of Australians get through some of the hardest times of their lives.

She’s part of an army of volunteers who man phones around the country, talking Australians in crisis through their darkest moments.

Mani talks about her experiences as a volunteer:Interestingly, it was a crisis of her own – a divorce – that sparked the decision to volunteer with Lifeline.

“I got divorced and it was sort of like ‘what do I want to do with my life’?” the 34-year-old says.

After some soul-searching, she quit her job as an accountant and started studying to become a psychologist.

She soon began volunteering at Lifeline to gain some relevant experience in her new career.

“This has some impact on the world, it changes people’s lives.”

“Part of my whole reason from changing to psychology from accounting was that I wanted my life to be more meaningful,” she says.

“This has some impact on the world, changes people’s lives. Every time I walk out, I think ‘you’ve potentially changed someone’s life today… you’ve cheered them up, you’ve given them hope, put a smile on their face’.”

‘You have good days and bad days’

It’s a sentiment echoed by James, who has been volunteering at Lifeline for two years.

“There are good days like that, where you feel like you’ve made a difference,” he says.

“You’ve given some people some support, you’ve made a connection with people so they feel that you’ve cared about them and that there are people who care about them and want to talk to them.”

But the 23-year-old says there can be bad days as well, leaving him feeling “emotionally exhausted” and at times, “physically drained”.

“After a bad day, I leave here feeling pretty drained,” he says. “You have good days and bad days.”

“There’s no such thing as a perfect call with someone in crisis.

James describes his first call:”You can be having a pretty relaxed day sometimes, and some regular calls, and then bang, you can take a call from someone who has overdosed, or are in harm.”

Lifeline answers around 2,000 phone calls every day at centres around the country. Around holiday periods like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, that number can escalate.

Last year, around Christmas and New Year, Lifeline received more than 18,000 calls.

The service is one of several crisis support lines around the country and relies on thousands of volunteers to provide help to those in need.

“There’s no such thing as a perfect call with someone in crisis.”

Like Mani, James started volunteering as a way to give back and gain experience in a relevant field. He eventually wants to become a qualified counsellor, working with people in crisis.

“Some of the issues are quite hard hitting – bankruptcy, suicidal thoughts, people who’ve been abused, people with drug issues, family issues.”

“There’s a lot of relationship breakdown out there, and it can be the heart of why people are in crisis.”

Despite all of this, Sally, a volunteer with Lifeline for 11 years, says she finds hope in the resilience of callers.

“I’m surprised sometimes when you think about the difficulties people experience in their everyday living,” she says.

“Callers are in a difficult position for one reason or another, and still manage to rise above, where many would crumble under the pressures that are being placed upon them.

Sally talks about her experiences as a volunteer:”Volunteering has certainly increased my sense of faith in human nature.

“But at the same time, it can be disturbing to think about what people can do to their family members and other members of the community.”

Of the roughly 2,000 calls Lifeline receives each day, around 50 are from people who are at high risk of suicide.

“Sometimes, even now, when you hear a particular tone of voice, you can just feel the heart going a bit faster,” Sally says.

There can be a sense of responsibility, she says, but experience can help steady nerves and “hopefully help to relieve the stress and tension for the caller.”

Sally’s journey with Lifeline seems almost fortuitous. More than a decade ago, she began toying with the idea of undertaking some sort of volunteer work as her children became older.

While she knew of the work Lifeline did, it was a stall at a local shopping centre that drew her to the organisation.

“I suppose it was an opportune moment really,” she recalls.

“I don’t know if I’d made a conscious decision that it was the year I was going to volunteer.

“It sort of came up, talking about the training, and I thought it would be really useful to do that, and at the same time, give something back to the community.”

It’s an opinion that’s also held by Mani and James. While the work can be rewarding, and at times difficult, the three volunteers all say the communication skills they’ve learnt during their time at the crisis support hotline have had flow-on benefits in their lives.

“I’m definitely more vigilant around my friends or family.”

For Sally, a healthcare worker, learning to be impartial and simply listening are some skills she’s been able to transfer into her work and personal life.

“When people say you’re a nice listener, it’s nice, and you think ‘that’s what I’m supposed to do’!”

James says his volunteer experience has made him more aware of problems his friends and family are facing.

“I’m definitely more vigilant around my friends or family,” he says.

“I can manage my own crises now, and it’s given me better self-worth. I feel like I’ve got a purpose in life.”

“I always call myself a selfish volunteer because I’m getting so much out of it,” Mani says with a laugh.

“I don’t know if I’m giving back enough.”

Find more information on volunteering at Lifeline here.

Readers seeking support and information can contact: Lifeline 13 11 14, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800 or the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 

PM puts on a confident face amid leadership speculation

by admin on September 30th, 2019

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(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

It’s too early to say whether Prime Minister Tony Abbott has succeeded in staving off a leadership challenge following his speech to the National Press Club aimed at resetting his government’s agenda and convincing his colleagues he’s the right man for the job.

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The speech on Monday has met with mixed reaction from within the Coalition ranks with some suggesting that more time is needed before axing a first term PM.

Mr Abbott is playing down reports about the leadership intentions of his deputy Julie Bishop and has refused to say if she has promised not to challenge him.

But as Amanda Cavill reports the speculation about Ms Bishop is another blow to the PM’s leadership, which has been battered by the disastrous Queensland election and the Prince Philip knighthood.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

Mr Abbott has sidestepped questions over whether deputy Julie Bishop refused to give him a commitment she would not challenge for the leadership.

It’s being reported Mr Abbott made the request of Ms Bishop at a meeting between the pair in Sydney on Sunday.

But he’s refused to answer direct questions about the issue.

“What I am determined to do is give Australia back the certainty and stability that people crave. People want a Government which is focused on doing the right thing by them, not focused on itself. Are are you prepared to call a spill -No. Have you sought assurance from Julie Bishop that she won’t challenge you? Look Julie and I have lots of talks, we’re friends, we’re colleagues, we are part of the leadership team and we support each other.”

All eyes are on the trio of the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, the Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Social Services Minister Scott Morrison.

All three say they don’t support those backbenchers who claim to be acting on their behalf.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane says he knows Mr Turnbull is not planning a challenge, and while he isn’t aware if Mr Abbott has held talks with the Foreign Affairs Minister, Ms Bishop should also rule out a challenge for the sake of stability.

“I can’t confirm that. I wasn’t at the dinner. I was in Queensland working on the state election. The reality is though we need a strong focused approach at the beginning of this year. We need to get on with government and talk about leadership is a distraction that needs to be put to Bed. So I’d call on both Malcolm, who I know is not planning any leadership challenge because he gave me that assurance but I also call on Julie Bishop to make that assurance.”

Treasurer Joe Hockey says Mr Abbott will lead the Coalition to the next election.

Mr Hockey has dismissed as gossip the reported account of Mr Abbott and Ms Bishop’s meeting, while suggesting his colleagues should end their leadership chatter.

“There is no good that can come from having constant change in leadership when Australians want us to focus on what’s good for them, rather than what’s good for ourselves.”

The opposition says changing leader wouldn’t help the government’s position.

Opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen says the real question is whether the Liberal Party realises that its problem is not only the leadership but its policies.

“Would Julie Bishop drop the plan for $100,000 university degrees? Would Mal Brough drop the charge to go to the doctor? Would Malcolm Turnbull drop the cuts to the ABC and SBS? The Australian people are rejecting this Government partly because of their leader but more importantly because of their policies. Well, this leadership de stabilisation and speculation continues to have an effect on the Australian economy and on confidence.”

Mr Abbott is meeting with his cabinet and wider ministry in Canberra this week to discuss the government’s agenda and priorities for the year.

His colleagues are expected to air their concerns about his standing.

But Mr Abbott has played down the gathering as a standard, start of year, cabinet meeting before parliament resumes next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL QB Johnny Manziel enters rehab

by admin on September 30th, 2019

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel has entered a rehabilitation treatment program, the NFL team announced on Monday following a season where the high-profile rookie’s off-field partying lifestyle hindered his on-field development.

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Manziel, a first-round NFL Draft pick last year known as “Johnny Football” since his college star days at Texas A&M, began his rehab work last Wednesday, the Browns said.

“We respect Johnny’s initiative in this decision and will fully support him throughout this process,” Browns general manager Ray Farmer said.

“Our players’ health and well-being will always be of the utmost importance to the Cleveland Browns.

“We continually strive to create a supportive environment and provide the appropriate resources, with our foremost focus being on the individual and not just the football player.

“Johnny’s privacy will be respected by us during this very important period and we hope that others will do the same.”

Manziel, selected 22nd in the 2014 draft, began the season as a backup to journeyman Brian Hoyer.

After two late-season starts for the Browns, Manziel was fined for missing treatment on a sore hamstring and being late, purportedly for oversleeping the day before the final game, although ESPN said team sources found Manziel appeared to have partied heavily the night before.

Manziel was photographed in the days after the season partying in Miami, Houston and Aspen, Colorado.

“Johnny knows there are areas he needs to improve on to help him be a better family member, friend and teammate, so he decided to take this step in his life during the offseason,” said Brad Beckworth, a Manziel family friend and adviser.

Super Bowl 49 sets viewer record

by admin on September 30th, 2019

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New England’s dramatic victory over Seattle in Super Bowl 49 was the most watched show in American television history, seen by a record 114.

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4 million US viewers, telecaster NBC says.

The Patriots’ 28-24 triumph over the Seahawks in the National Football League’s championship spectacle on Sunday lured 2.2 million more viewers than the previous record holder, the telecast of last year’s Super Bowl when Seattle routed Denver.

“Last night’s Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl ranks among the most exciting sporting events in US history,” NBC Sports group chairman Mark Lazarus said.

“Super Bowl 49 delivered for all of our partners, proving once again that the Super Bowl is the most dominant and consistent property on television.”

The Patriots rallied from a 24-14 deficit with two fourth-quarter touchdowns and denied Seattle from the one-yard line in the dying seconds to capture the crown.

Seven of the eight most watched shows in US history are Super Bowl telecasts, with the past six NFL title games filling the top six spots ahead of the only scripted program, the 1983 final episode of the TV series M.A.S.H., which attracted a US audience of 106 million people.

Sunday’s game drew a 47.5 rating and a 71 share, becoming the highest-rated Super Bowl since 1986 when Chicago defeated new England in Super Bowl 20.

It ranks as the fourth-highest rated telecast ever and ninth in US TV history, the only one in the top six from the past 29 years as audiences have enjoyed greater viewing options with the evolution of cable and satellite telecasts.

Rating is a measure of potential audience members tuned into a program at a given time, while share is the percentage of people watching television tuned into a specific show at a certain time.

Viewership peaked at 120.8 million viewers during the fourth quarter, when Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Tom Brady completed 13-for-15 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns to rally New England to victory.

Katy Perry’s half-time show was watched by 118.5 million viewers.

Viewership figures are determined by calculating the average number of people watching over the course of the entire game.

Boston, the home market for the Patriots, led US major metropolitan areas in ratings with its best mark ever at a 61.0 rating and 85 share. Seattle shared 17th on the list with a 52.1 rating and 89 share.

Jewish law stopped Vic sex abuse reports

by admin on September 30th, 2019

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The father of three boys sexually abused at a Jewish school was so fearful of being shunned by his community for breaching an ancient principle that he didn’t report the crime to police.

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Zephaniah Waks insists breaking a code of silence by telling non-Jewish authorities about abuse by a Jewish man without permission from senior Rabbis was a taboo on a par with incest.

One witness, known as AVC, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse that rabbis preached hellfire and damnation for people who breached the mesirah.

Mr Waks, a father of 17, says he feared being shunned and intimidated.

“It was taboo, like, incest or anything like that. It was that big a taboo,” he told the commission on Tuesday.

The response of Melbourne’s Yeshivah College and Yeshivah Centre to sexual abuse allegations has been put under the microscope in the first two days of public hearings.

The commission has heard former Yeshivah Centre director Rabbi Dovid Groner, who died in 2008, knew of allegations as early as 1986 but did nothing about them.

AVC, the wife of a victim due to give evidence on Wednesday, said on Tuesday the community’s reaction to finding out about the abuse made her ill.

“I watched in horror as my community, the Jewish community, has responded to knowledge of child sexual abuse with moral destitution,” she said.

“I couldn’t stop imagining all these victims as little boys – confused, hurt and ashamed by what had been done to them, boys who kept their secret or told their rabbi, only to be met with bewildering or tactless questions or the response that they shouldn’t tell lies.”

Her husband was abused by David Cyprys and Daniel Hayman, both of whom have since been convicted.

Mr Waks’ eldest son Manny was also abused by Cyprys, while two of his younger children were abused by former primary school teacher Rabbi David Kramer who was also later convicted.

Rather than contact police, Mr Waks went to then Yeshivah College principal Rabbi Abraham Glick and was shocked when he learned Rabbi Kramer had partly admitted to the abuse.

Mr Waks said the Yeshivah Centre committee then paid for Kramer to leave the country.

Since his son Manny went public about his ordeal four years ago, he had been effectively excommunicated, Mr Waks said.

“We felt like we were suddenly reduced to nothing, and had lost all our friends,” he said.

Mr Waks and his wife have now moved to Israel.

The hearing is expected to continue for two weeks.