Lifeline trials online chat feature

Reaches new demographic as national IT revamp hits production phase

Suicide prevention organisation Lifeline is currently trialling a real-time online chat function on its website — in addition to its traditional phone service — to reach out to more people in need of support.

Lifeline’s newly appointed — and first ever — CIO, Chris Hardy, said the trial of the instant messenger, one-on-one chat technology was part of the organisation’s revamp to provide more services for sufferers of mental health disorders.

“An exciting project has been in trial phase for the last three months — this is our one-on-one chats,” Hardy said.

“It has been extremely well patronised and I think we’re reaching out to a different demographic.”

Hardy said statistics from the trial run showed it was successful.

“Our statistics show that we were meeting a different demographic than what we were previously meeting with our telephone service and it’s doing really, really well,” he said.

While still in the production stage, Hardy said the IT revamp is on track.

“The main project is the IT revamp and that’s taking up a lot of our time and effort and that’s on track and within budget and is going to be wonderful when that lands,” he said.

“We’re now looking at how we can get that into a production stage around collecting proper requirements and looking at a couple of business cases and seeing what funding we’re getting back from our corporate partners and the government.”

While he has some mammoth tasks ahead of him, Hardy said the first three months in the job have been rewarding and that he is looking forward to tackling a number of other projects.

“The past three months have been exactly what I expected,” he said.

“In fact, it has been very, very rewarding. The main challenges that have cropped up is ensuring our modernisation programs are on track while dealing with competing priorities.

“I’m in discussions to look at some partnerships especially around mobility and how that ties in with our larger reforms that we’re looking at.”

The trial began in April and will run until the end of this month, and is available every day from 8pm to midnight.

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Tags Mental HealthWeb chatLifeline AustraliaChris Hardy

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