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Lifeline Fiji needs a lifeline

Fijiian Lifeline trainees attend the counselling training workshop

Lifeline Fiji is down and almost out.

So Lifeline Queensland is trying to raise $100,000 to give them a hand.

Richard Johnson from Lifeline Coral Coast, based at Bundaberg, has been to Fiji to provide local people with training and support. His needs assessment says the biggest issue is youth suicide, and he cites ANU research suggesting the youth suicide rate in Fiji is among the highest in the world.

Following a succession of military coups, international sanctions, civil unrest and ethnic tensions, the Fijian economy is on the skids. This means more people than ever before are poor, subject to violence, and struggling to make their way. In such situations, the role of “civil society organisations”, such as Lifeline, in ameliorating conflict, anxiety, despair and poverty, is quite critical.

Lifeline Fiji, founded in 1993, has also copped collateral damage from the decline in social capital, trust and community engagement. The Suva branch closed down in 2000. The branch at Ba on the north-western coast of Viti Levu has struggled on.

The telephone counselling service in Ba runs from the home of one of the dedicated volunteers, Mrs Pushpa Nair.

“Funding for Lifeline in Ba has been a constant struggle,” says Richard Johnson. For some time the organisation was able to do fundraising by running a small tea shop in the original Methodist Chapel in the Mission Hospital grounds, and by selling second hand clothes.

However, says Richard Johnson, “due to some administrative difficulties with the Church, Lifeline lost the use of this.” Recently members of the Church initiated talks with the Church administration with the possibility of Lifeline re-tenanting the old building but this proved logistically impossible, as the building has been leased to another tenant.”

The recent training week long program conducted by Mary Parsissons from Lifeline International, and Richard Johnson, was successful. Two counselling training workshops, including fundamental skills of counselling, personal and interpersonal counselling, and suicide prevention were conducted for Lifeline volunteers in the township of Ba, and for professional workers in Nadi. The Fiji Council of Social Services helped with the organisation.

Conversations with workshop participants, Lifeline members, a representative of the Ba Local Government Council, members of the clergy from different Christian denominations, people from Islamic and Hindu backgrounds, officials from the Ministry of Education, and officials from the Fiji Council of Social Services were productive and led to the current appeal.

The appeal is based on a strategy designed to re-establish Lifeline Fiji and a functioning and independent community service organisation. More information from:

Lifeline Community Care Queensland Fundraising
PO Box 108
Fortitude Valley QLD 4006.

If you would like to make a direct deposit, please call 3250 1934.

Photo : Fijiian Lifeline trainees attend the counselling training workshop