More Than Half Of Calls To Kids Helpline Are Going Unanswered

Funding help needed

4 May 2018

Article heading image for More Than Half Of Calls To Kids Helpline Are Going Unanswered

More than half of calls placed to the Kids Helpline service are going unanswered, with a dramatic increase in the number of children reaching out and a lack of funding to ensure that help is available.

The service is Australia's only free, private and confidential 24-hour phone and online counselling system with a focus on young people from the age of five to 25.

However, according to Virtual Services manager Tony Fitzgerald, a lack of funding is beginning to impact on the service's ability to offer support to the large number of young people seeking help - given there are both phone and online options for counsellors to monitor.

"Children, young people and teenagers want to be connected online and it's no different in terms of their help seeking," Mr Fitzgerald told Hit.

"We've seen over the last three or four years a 178 per cent increase in our web chat alone. And that's grown from about 12,000 responses back in 2012 to over 35,000 in 2017.

"We are getting many more attempts to reach our to our service via web chat than we can respond to at the moment.

"The other thing we're seeing is an increase in contacts from kids aged between 10 and 14 around mental health issues. And while we try our best to respond to that, most of our contact is very in-depth support contacts that our counsellors need to respond to, so that little bit more time means that the next person waiting to get through to us has to wait longer."

Over 120 counsellors are employed by the service, who are all tertiary qualified.

On any given day, there are between 250 and 300 attempts to contact Kids Helpline on web chat alone.

"So the demand is very, very strong and it continues to increase, because that's how kids want to communicate," Mr Fitzgerald said.

"On a daily basis we will receive anywhere between 700 and 800 phone calls, on top of what we see on web chat.

"In addition to the community, we would definitely call on the government to help fund this great service so that we can respond to the demand we're seeing at the moment...and save lives."

To learn more about funding or to make a donation, click here.

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