Lisa’s OurMob training leads to new opportunities

December 1, 2023
Lisa Roff (far right) stands with other members of the 13YARN team.

While working on a program where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples shared their mental health struggles and life experiences, Wiradjuri Tubba-Gah woman Lisa Roff found herself looking to increase her skillset regarding suicide awareness.

An enquiry with Lifeline Queensland led her to discover the new OurMob volunteer crisis supporter training for First Nations Peoples, which was starting the very next week.

Lifeline Queensland is proudly part of the UnitingCare family. OurMob came into being when UnitingCare’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnership and Engagement Coordinator, Krystal Beazley, and General Manager Lifeline and Wellbeing Service, Luke Lindsay, noticed there were very few Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporters.

At the first session, Lisa met Aunty Bev Muckan, Centre Supervisor for 13YARN, a culturally safe crisis support service for First Nations people by trained Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporters. She also met facilitator Marg Knight, a Lifeline Crisis Support Trainer, as well as participants from all over Queensland.

Lisa says the training was different in that it was collaborative, aligning with First Nations Peoples. For example, “there is no word in any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island language that means ‘suicide’,” Lisa says. “If we talk about it, we use different language like ‘Go to Dreamtime’ or ‘Go Walkabout’.”

She explains that inclusions in the training, such as ochre colouring and videos of Aboriginal people, made her feel culturally safe.

After Lisa completed her OurMob training and student placement, she worked to become an Accredited Crisis Supporter. During this period, Lisa successfully applied for the role of Team Leader for 13YARN QLD.

OurMob is now the feeder program to recruit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporters for 13YARN in Queensland.

Lisa still does shifts on the phone, answering calls to both 13YARN and Lifeline’s 13 11 14 Crisis Support Line.

“There are clear differences in the calls,” she says. “On 13YARN, you can get intense emotive calls where the caller is almost always experiencing a crisis. As an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, every interaction can be something that relates to you.”

Aunty Bev supports the team with guidance, one-to-one yarns, and debriefs to manage these challenging interactions and ensure their spiritual safety.

In the future, Lisa’s ambition is clear. “I would love OurMob to be a standalone program, and I would love to be part of that, to create a culturally safe Crisis Support program with a network of First Nations Crisis Supporters. I would also love for many of the OurMob Crisis Supporters to be trained as mentors as part of the in-shift support to Crisis Supporters on the phone.”

Lisa recommends other First Nations Peoples apply to volunteer with OurMob.

If you would like to volunteer with OurMob and change lives, yours included, visit our Volunteer Portal. Read more volunteer stories in UnitingCare’s Volunteer Impact Report.