Lifeline Celebrates 60 Years of Saving Lives

By: Steff Willis

Established by the late Reverend Sir Alan Walker, the former Superintendent of Wesley Mission, Lifeline exists to ensure no one faces their darkest moments alone.

60 years ago, when man walked on the moon and Beatlemania swept the nation, Rev Alan Walker realised a need for a service to help those who were lonely and languished on the sidelines of society.

After losing someone to suicide, Rev Alan Walker gathered thirty people together to pray. At this prayer meeting, the idea of a 24hour counselling service was suggested and Lifeline was born.

Recognising the power of the telephone in connecting with people, Rev Alan Walker started taking calls in his Sydney home with other volunteers, never imagining what Lifeline would later become.

Lifeline historical photo
Above: Lifeline Centre, Flinders Street Darlinghurst 1963 / Supplied

“From a desperate call, the tragedy of suicide and a helplessness that was felt by many…the amazing work of Lifeline was born,” Walker told Wesley Impact! magazine in 1961.

In a recent interview, Wesley Mission CEO and Superintendent, Reverend Stu Cameron spoke about Rev Walker’s legacy and 60 incredible years of Lifeline.

“It’s an amazing milestone and an incredible legacy and an organisation and a movement that continues to transform and save lives,” Rev Cameron said.

Rev Cameron said Walker knew with compassion and connection there was hope.

“I think if Alan Walker was alive today, he would see a movement that’s not only impacting Australians but that has mushroomed to be an organisation to have international reach and influence,” he said.

“I think he would thank God. I think he would give all honour and glory to God because at the end of the day Lifeline was birthed out of a Christian conviction that every life matters.”

“Every life matters to God and therefore it’s our privilege as the church to serve those, particularly those who are in vulnerable situations or in their greatest hour of need” Rev Stu Cameron, CEO Wesley Mission

With the tagline ‘Help is as close as the telephone’ Lifeline’s Darlinghurst call centre was opened on 16 March 1963 by Sydney Lord Mayor H.F. Jensen, who spoke to the 2,500 strong crowd. The project was the culmination of years of planning and six months of training for 200 volunteer workers.

Lifeline 60 years on receives a call for support every 30 seconds with Lifeline’s network of 41 centres, 10,000 volunteers, and 1,000 employees provide a lifesaving national infrastructure for those experiencing immense pain and anguish.

“Lifeline is at the front edges of connecting people with hope and enabling and empowering people to find that hope” Rev Cameron said. 

Article supplied with thanks to 96five.

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Feature image: Photo by Antoni Shkraba on Pexels