Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 25 August 2011) . . Page.. 3973 ..
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (6.03): I had the honour on 13 August of attending the inaugural Lifeline ball to celebrate their 40th anniversary. The theme was the Willy Wonka gala ball. In intending, I represented the leader of the Canberra Liberals, Mr Seselja, and the shadow minister for health, Mr Hanson. As the only politician there, I thought it was appropriate to tell you all what a wonderful thing you missed.
So here are a few words: on Saturday, 13 August Lifeline Canberra celebrated its 40th birthday with an event unlike any other that Canberra had ever seen, a Willy Wonka gala ball featuring all things chocolate. Hotel Realm’s national ballroom was transformed into the Wonka factory, complete with the iconic Wonka factory gates, dancing oompa loompas, songs by Willy Wonka and a candy bar, manned by a loveable candy man, which boasted over 113 kilos of chocolate and candy. Giant lollipops, candy cane trees, a chocolate fountain and an abundance of gold chocolate coins were just some of the edible decorations that helped the theme come to life. Willy Wonka opened the show with the song Pure Imagination as oompa loompas took the guests’ hands and led them up the stairs from the foyer into the Wonka factory.
The event was not only a celebration of 40 years, it also generated much-needed funds for the charity, with over $50,000 being raised through the generosity of the 450 guests that attended.
Aside from all of the fun, there was a serious side to the occasion and there was not a dry eye in the house when Kate DeAraugo, the 2005 Australian Idol winner, sang a heartfelt song written especially for Lifeline titled Why Do I Feel This Way? which very accurately captured the feelings and thoughts of many of the Lifeline telephone crisis counselling callers.
We also heard from a very impressive young lady about the impact of suicide on her life and, despite the revelry, not a sound was heard while she spoke. Almost two years ago, Philippa Seldon lost her eldest brother to suicide. She spoke at the ball of her experience with suicide and her upcoming adventure Cycle4Life which will see she and her friend Gary Lilley cycle 1,600 kilometres from Canberra to Brisbane in order to raise awareness of suicide prevention as well as raise funds for Lifeline Canberra. Her speech held the attention of everyone at the ball and was referred to as a real eye opener. Indeed I believe she left today from federal parliament after a cycle this morning with some federal politicians.
Lifeline takes on average one call per minute and during busy times, including the festive period, on average Lifeline speaks to more than 1,300 people a day, including an average of 50 suicide-related calls and intervenes in a suicide around 10 times a day. These numbers are frightening. In the ACT last year, some 43 people took their own lives.
Suicide touches the lives of many people and is, in every case, a tragedy, both for the life that has ended and the family and friends and community left behind. It would