(from l-r) Stephen Fitzpatrick, General Manager of TWT; Jing Pan, Office Manager of TWT; and Pete Shmigel, CEO of Lifeline Australia
Lifeline Australia is noting an increasing number of ‘cries for help’ are from Chinese speakers – particularly students – who are feeling lonely, isolated and under pressure to achieve academic excellence. This is placing a greater strain on Lifeline’s already stretched resources as it has to pay a private translation service to act as a go-between to interact with callers.
The need for Chinese speaking and culturally sensitive operatives at Lifeline has been identified by the TWT Property Group, which has donated $50,000 as part of its financial commitment to local charities. It follows a $20,000 donation to Barnardos earlier this year.
The donation will help Lifeline recruit Chinese-speaking operatives as part of its 24-hour telephone service in 41 centres throughout Australia.
“We have around one million interactions per year, and there is an increasing need to provide counselling and support to members of the Chinese community,” said Pete Shmigel, CEO of Lifeline Australia. “Some of the callers are as young as 15 who are away from their families and under stress to perform well scholastically.
“It is vitally important that we have operatives who can not only converse with them fluently in their native language but who understand their sensibilities and appreciate that their attitudes and outlook on life can be different to Australian norms.”
Each of the 2,500-plus daily calls to Lifeline Australia costs the service an average of $25 to process. Six out of every 10 calls are from women, with loneliness and isolation being the primary cause.
“Despite being an affluent and caring nation we are facing a suicide crisis in Australia,” said Mr Shmigel. “More than 3,000 people take their lives every year, and the trend is rising.
“Suicide is the No. 1 cause of death among Australians aged 15 to 44, with men aged 35 to 44 the most vulnerable.
“Australia is supposed to be ‘The Lucky Country’, enjoying one of the world’s highest standards of living, yet we fare very poorly when compared to Asian and European countries. It is a great and somewhat confusing challenge that we face.
“Underlying much of the problem is that Australia doesn’t have nearly as strong a feeling of community, neighbourhood bonds nor family interaction as do other nations so we are honoured to be selected by TWT Property Group as one of its local charities and we look forward to an on-going relationship that can make a difference.”
Philanthropy is intrinsic to TWT Property Group’s corporate culture, and it has established the Bridging Hope Charity Foundation to support programs for the underprivileged. In the past three years it has donated the equivalent of $A1.2-Million to help fund organisations and individuals across China.
“Making a contribution to good social change and helping communities grow and prosper is an ethos we build, not just in our developments but also in our charitable work,” said Gavin Zhang, Director of TWT Property Group. “We want to improve people’s lives, so we are committed to helping communities and support networks.”