LIFELINE Ballarat volunteer Mark Sobey has been formally recognised for his 15 years of service as a Telephone Crisis Supporter.
The charity’s Ballarat Program Manager Michelle MacGillivray said that Mr Sobey, who began volunteering in 2002, received one of the organisation’s most prestigious awards – the Golden Wattle.
“Mark has made a lifesaving difference to many Australians who have used Lifeline’s 13 11 14 crisis line in their time of need,” Ms MacGillivray said.
“What sets Mark apart is his unwavering dedication and commitment to the work of Lifeline and our vision of an Australia free of suicide.
“In today’s busy and demanding world, his 15 years with Lifeline Ballarat is a very special milestone one that is worth celebrating.” Mark recently said as he reflected on his achievement, “During my 15 years, I have found that Lifeline has been a constant driving force in my life.
“Since leaving university, my career has changed; I have moved several times and experienced life’s challenges. Through it all, Lifeline has endured. It is part of who I am.
“While I now work in Canberra and could easily transfer to Lifeline Canberra, I am connected and at home in Lifeline Ballarat.” Mark was encouraged by his boss at the time to join Lifeline.
“I was already in a role working with people who were in a vulnerable position so it was partly to get experience working with vulnerable people in terms of being a support, and a little bit about getting the development that Lifeline offers in terms of the training,” he said.
“There have been a lot of calls but one that sticks out is a call from a long time ago, a call that was local to Ballarat and a person that had experienced a high profile incident and therefore felt they couldn’t talk to anyone about it.
They were basically overwhelmed with grief about the incident, and Lifeline was that organisation they could talk to about how horrible it was for them at that point in time. Lifeline was that one point where they didn’t have to deal with everyone else’s stuff, just their own.” Mark is one of 65 current Lifeline Ballarat volunteers who have undertaken the comprehensive crisis support training. This means when they answer a crisis support call, they don’t diagnose, judge or give people medical advice.
Instead, they listen to a person’s unique situation, provide emotional support and work with them on their coping strategies, making appropriate referrals for more support as needed.
Mark was formally-awarded the Golden Wattle Award at the Lifeline Ballarat Graduation celebration.
“I never actually thought I’d make 15 years. I moved away from Ballarat a long time ago but I have stayed attached to Lifeline Ballarat,” he said.
“It’s a good achievement, it’s just wow 15 years, where did that go?”