What the early QLife national data indicates for the next phase of the six-member collaboration
By Ross Jacobs – Qlife National Clinical Director
While the QLife Project, an initiative of five State-based Gay and Lesbian Counselling Services and the National LGBTI Health Alliance, is not yet a year old, the emerging data set of how any why our communities use phone and web chat counselling is promising. For the first time we’re able to pull the statistical information for what has previously been five different data sets into a single place, and this gives us a compelling picture of mental health help seeking for our communities.
With six months of data accumulated in the new national record keeping database – from October ’13 to March ’14 – there has been an astounding 20% growth over the six month recording period. While our phone service has benefited greatly from a call overflow system (where calls that go unanswered at a local state level then get diverted to the next available telephone counsellor), a significant amount of this increase is also due to the availability of web counselling for the first time on a national level via our national hub in Sydney. Until this year, web chat had only been offered by the Queensland partner of QLife, GLWA, and we are looking to expand this service to all sites in mid-2014.
Some interesting features of the new data are that calls are going up across the board of individuals subject matters that people bring to phone counselling or web chat – from relationship difficulties, to experiences of violence, to coming out. While not at all clustered around a subset of issues, it is promising to see that many of these clients are contacting QLife for the very first time, and indicated that national advertising and the call diversion network between all of the five centres is working as designed. While QLife does see quite a high number of ‘hang up’ callers – attempted contacts with the service that result in either a few seconds of silence or a disconnection sound right away – this also indicates that for some callers the process of speaking about what they are experiencing remains extremely difficult.
Beyond this, we are seeing a remarkable pick-up from young people (25 and under), particularly for the web chat service where these clients make up over 80% of the total age-identified users.
Timing-wise, this emerging data is supporting the entire QLife project timeline and reinforcing the move from establishment to permanency.
The Qlife Mission Statement:
In April, the services gathered in Victoria to establish QLife’s mission statement:
“Our QLife project was formed with the aim to create a sustainable way to continue to provide support, empowerment, and to build the capacity of members of our communities.
Our Communities still experience high levels of isolation, stigma and discrimination.
As members of these communities, we commit ourselves to providing a service that people can trust. A service that they can contact safely no matter what their lived experience.
A service that is informed by evidence, free, confidential and peer based, being delivered by oodles of volunteers across Australia, and is open 265 days a year from 5:30 – 10:30pm no matter where in Australia you live.
This collaborative project combines the expertise of six partners.
The Alliance as a national body brings the opportunity for national resources to be delivered at a state level, and had responsibility for ensuring that contractual obligations are being woven through the delivery of the collaboration.
The centres bring their long-standing expertise to deliver innovative and safe services to our communities, through the support of our volunteers and programs in a way that is locally appropriate and sustainable.
The collaboration is supported by a national team of staff with clinical and capacity building skills, whose role is to ensure that clients and communities are empowered and (wherever possible) enhanced through the work that we do.”