UNE pathway to study for Lifeline counsellors

Published 01 June 2011

counsellingUNE has signed a pathway agreement with Lifeline Australia which will provide a pathway for Lifeline Counsellors and staff into postgraduate study at UNE.

Lifeline Australia is a highly respected, not-for-profit organisation and a Registered Training Organisation that has been delivering training to telephone counsellors for over 47 years. Lifeline Australia currently has a workforce of more than 3,000 volunteer counsellors and trains about 1,500 telephone counsellors a year at more than 60 centres across Australia. It has a high profile – particularly in the area of suicide prevention.

Counsellors who have been recommended by Lifeline Australia may be eligible for entry into the Graduate Diploma of Counselling for Health and Social Care. These telephone counsellors, who have been put forward by Lifeline, will hold a Certificate IV in Telephone Counselling Practice, have a minimum of three years’ relevant work experience and at least one year’s work experience as a Lifeline Supervisor, Group Facilitator or Lifeline Suicide Crisis Support Program Counsellor. Joe Roff, from Lifeline’s National Office, said that this pathway was “a fantastic recognition of the expertise our Telephone Counsellors hold, and of the service and value that they provide to the Australian Community”. “While this service is an end in itself, the fact that it is now also a means to achieving further education and qualifications in the area of their vocation is a wonderful opportunity that will appeal to the Lifeline network,” he said. I have no doubt our Telephone Counsellors will benefit from this opportunity with UNE, and that UNE will benefit in the students that are sourced from Lifeline.”

Dr Sally Hunter, a Senior Lecturer in Counselling at UNE, said: “At UNE, we currently recommend that all our students do a Lifeline training program. We see experienced Lifeline telephone counsellors as a valuable asset to our program, since they have already developed so many skills – counselling microskills, communication skills, assessment skills, people management skills, the ability to listen non-judgmentally without giving advice, and an ability to deal effectively with suicidal people. These are skills that some of our current students often find challenging to develop.”

This agreement offers a new pathway for the future professional development of the Lifeline workforce, some of whom do not have undergraduate degrees. “During the course of their studies, these experienced Lifeline telephone counsellors will be encouraged by UNE to remain with Lifeline Australia to do their clinical placement, thereby potentially increasing the length of service of Lifeline’s trained volunteer workforce,” said Shane Merritt, Acting Course Co-ordinator for Counselling at UNE.

Dr Jane Clark, a psychologist and lecturer in the UNE Counselling Programme, said: “This pathway agreement goes some way towards recognising the invaluable contribution made by Lifeline Australia to the training of counsellors in Australia through their new Certificate IV in Telephone Counselling course, and the additional training of mentors, supervisors, group facilitators and suicide prevention counsellors”.