Two members of the Diocese of Parramatta say the official opening of the new Kids Helpline counselling centre in Blacktown will be a valuable service for young people in Western Sydney, including those in the Diocese. Already the service has responded to over 14,500 contacts from young people across Western Sydney since April last year.
James Camden, Director of Catholic Youth Parramatta and Tracy McLeod Howe, Head of Safeguarding for the Diocese of Parramatta, were keen to celebrate initiatives to keep local young people safe. Before the opening of the centre in Blacktown, Kids Helpline calls were answered by counsellors in Brisbane.
“Today’s official opening after one year of operation signals a real beacon of hope for young people in Western Sydney,” said James.
“Without a doubt, students and youth from our schools and parishes will be using the telephone counselling service each day and night. Not only does the new hub outside of Brisbane mean their calls will be answered faster but they can speak with someone who feels a little closer to home during their time of need.”
James was previously a Board Director with Lasallian Mission Council, on behalf of the De La Salle Brothers, who founded yourtown and Kids Helpline.
NSW Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the Blacktown hub, which employs 30 professional counsellors dedicated to taking calls from children and young adults in NSW, has already responded to 14,528 contacts since its opening in April last year.
“It’s been a really tough year, especially for children and young people, which is why we’re making sure that no matter where they live, support services are ready and available, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Mrs Taylor said.
“We’re building a safer, stronger NSW and having a bricks and mortar presence in Western Sydney means that Kids Helpline now has a physical hub for creating better local connections with communities and services all across the state.”
Between March and September 2020, Kids Helpline answered 35,403 calls and online chats from children and young people living in NSW, an increase of 33% on the same period last year.
Mrs Taylor said the increased capacity is also helping ensure children and young people can connect with the same counsellor over a period of time.
“Being able to speak to the same person on the end of the line week in, week out, is so important for building that trusted relationship and making that help-seeking behaviour we want to encourage feel really normal,” Mrs Taylor said.
yourtown CEO Tracy Adams said she looks forward to another year of supporting children and young people. “Kids Helpline is not only celebrating its first year of operation here, we are also celebrating a milestone of 30 years of dedicated service to children and young people,” Ms Adams said.
Kids Helpline Counsellor ‘Indy’ is passionate about understanding young people and what has shaped or motivated them to become the person that they are today. “For many young people, trusting others with their story and deepest parts of their life can be difficult for many reasons, however, when they get to a place where they are comfortable and feel safe enough to share this with me, I feel privileged,” she said. “They are often able to express positive and constructive ways to work towards solutions when offered the opportunity to do so.”
Kids Helpline, a service of yourtown, is Australia’s only free, confidential 24 hours, seven days a week phone and online counselling service for young people aged five to 25.
Support can be accessed by a free call 1800 55 1800 or by visiting www.kidshelpline.com.au.