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20 years, 20 voices: Kids Helpline, Australia

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2023 marks the 20th Anniversary of Child Helpline International. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we have invited 20 of our members – from all around the world, whether they’re founding members or members who have joined us more recently – to share their stories in a special series that will run between now and World Children’s Day on 20 November 2023.

AUSTRALIA: KIDS HELPLINE

Kids Helpline is the Child Helpline for Australia. We provide 24/7 counselling and support for children and young people aged 5-25, and have done so for over 32 years. We offer a range of services, including phone, web and email counselling. We also provide support for via our own secure social networking platform called My Circle, where young people can connect with their peers and support each other around a range of topics. We also offer a range of online resources, interactive tools, and educational materials on our website.

We aim to provide a safe and non-judgmental space for children and young people to express their concerns, seek help, and receive appropriate guidance. We employ over 150 counsellors who are experienced professionals trained to listen, support, and provide practical strategies to help young individuals navigate their challenges.

Kids Helpline became involved with Child Helpline International in 2011, as part of its commitment to promoting the well-being and rights of children and young people on a global scale.

We recognized the importance of collaborating with other helplines worldwide to share knowledge, expertise and best practices. By joining Child Helpline International, Kids Helpline became part of an international community of child helplines that collectively strives to enhance child protection, advocate for children’s rights, and improve the quality and accessibility of helpline services globally.

Through our involvement with the network, Kids Helpline has the opportunity to contribute our own insights and experiences while learning from other child helplines around the world. This collaboration allows for the exchange of innovative ideas, research, and resources to further enhance the services and support provided to children and young people facing various challenges. I think that Child Helpline International’s commitment to quality standards over the years has improved the standard of service delivery and clinical governance for Kids Helpline. We are now about to embark on accreditation against the Australian National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health (NSQDMH) Standards and our previous commitment to quality standards through Child Helpline International has resulted in us being well placed to meet accreditation and remain a leader in this space.

And for me, there have been many highlights of being part of the Child Helpline International network – I can’t just mention one! My first International Consultation (IC) in Bangkok in 2016 was amazing to say the least. The opportunity to witness firsthand some of the innovations being developed by other organizations operating in this space was inspiring. I will also never forget the special experience we had visiting the Royal palace to pay our respects to the Thai King lying in state. That evening will stay with me forever.

We were also at the forefront of discussions in Toronto that eventually lead to the development of Aselo and it’s been wonderful to see some of the expertise that we provided to that project come to life for the benefit of other child helplines.

Finally the IC in Stockholm last year was also a huge highlight and in particular being able to present on the challenges we have faced in Australia through bushfires, floods and Covid-19 was a great honour.

I hope this network continues to thrive. I don’t think the world truly appreciates the value that Child Helplines play and I hope that the network becomes stronger – especially in times of ongoing uncertainty and disadvantage for millions of children and young people around the world. We are more important than ever and the most accessible form of help and assistance a child can receive!

Tony FitzGerald
Virtual Services Manager,
Yourtown & Kids Helpline

Voices of Children & Young People

“Thank you for talking to me. I was worried what it might be like making my first contact to Kids Helpline, but I now recommend it to my friends.”

The 13-year-old girl who contacted Kids Helpline said that she always felt alone. She’d grown up in a house – but it never felt like home to her. Kids Helpline counsellors helped her to understand that what someone did to you has absolutely nothing to do with you and was never your fault. Someone’s inability to love you doesn’t make you unlovable.

I was not in a good place literally when my counsellor gave me the resources to survive. Honestly, I was terrified asking for help. The whispers turned into white noise, my mind kept thinking other people are hurting more, I just need to be resilient. My Kids Helpline counsellor listened and told me that of course other people have it hard, but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve help. They told me I should never have to apologize for not feeling okay … nevertheless, I did say sorry a lot!”

“Kids Helpline supported and helped me, teaching me that I can love myself. I began to notice that I now try to have boundaries and say ‘No’. I’m more confident, but I’m still not better – and that’s perfectly okay! Trauma doesn’t just vanish, but I promise you that I’m having more good days. I still have waves … but I’m not drowning anymore.”