Lifeline Aotearoa could face closure due to a lack of funds. The service set up to provide 14/7 helplines and low-cost counselling has announced it only has enough money to run for another year.
By 30 June 2017, all funds from a new mortgage on its Auckland property will run out. It has restructured and is now appealing for public support in an effort to keep providing for those in need.
Lifeline Aotearoa has been operating since 1964. Its workers comprise experienced paid clinical experts and volunteers.
Around 15,000 calls are made to Lifeline helplines every month. Problems they are confronted with include loneliness, family violence, homelessness, bullying and relationship issues, mental health and suicidal thoughts.
It is also the New Zealand's most significant specialist provider of suicide intervention and training.
Its current financial position is the result of the loss of contracts to the Government’s new Telehealth Service, which has impacted on the organisation’s ability to fund its helplines.
Lifeline Aotearoa Board Chair Ben Palmer says appeals to Government for funding assistance were rejected.
“We made the tough decision to cut a number of positions, including many of the management team, and our CEO will now work part time. Critically, we have ensured Lifeline can continue to operate its 24/7 crisis lines staffed by professionals and highly trained volunteers.
Unfortunately these changes only buy Lifeline another year. In that time the Board will do whatever it can to try and secure the funds Lifeline requires annually to remain open, including launching further public support campaigns.”
Mr Palmer says the high rate of suicide in New Zealand means Lifeline's services are crucial.
“564 Kiwis died by suicide last year, the highest number on record and nearly double the annual road toll, which stood at 321. For young New Zealanders, particularly Maori, suicide is the leading cause of death.
Sadly, it’s estimated for every person who commits suicide 40-100 people attempt it," he says.
Te Kāea reporter, Heta Gardiner will have more on this tonight at 5:30pm.