Lifeline Mid Coast recently partnered with Rotary District 9650 to provide Accidental Counsellor Workshops in Coonabarabran, Gunnedah, Narrabri, Lightening Ridge and Moree.
Lifeline Mid Coast CEO Catherine Vaara and training manager Di Bannister embarked on an outback journey bringing hope and new skills to remote communities through the training.
In Coonabarabran they found families were still emotionally affected following the 2013 bushfires which saw 56 homes lost, 28 firefighters injured and 100 people evacuated.
The group was concerned about child abuse and youth suicide rates. The Accidental Counsellor training provided participants with important tools to stop and listen when someone wants to share.
In Gunnedah participants said there was a shortage of doctors which meant referrals were hard to source. The group reported they learned great strategies around managing a crisis and understanding behaviours and how important it is to have conversations around suicide.
One participant in Narrabri shared they personally knew 10 people in the community who had died by suicide. The group learned how to negotiate barriers to help people open up and then listen with intent.
The Lightning Ridge community found suicide a difficult subject to navigate, while in Moree, bushfires and drought had left a terrible toll on local families.
Workshop participants took away skills and the confidence to ask someone "are you thinking of suicide?".
"It was such an honour for these communities to allow us into their space and deliver important training around suicide awareness and prevention," Ms Bannister said.
Ms Vaara thanked the Rotary District for allowing Lifeline the opportunity to talk to people in remote areas where services were hard to find.