13YARN, the Lifeline Service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

By: Steff Willis

13YARN is like Lifeline but for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It’s the first national service of its kind where people can have a one on one over the phone yarn when they’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

13YARN has been co-designed with the community and is led by, delivered by, designed by and perhaps most importantly, answered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Above: 13YARN National Manager Marjorie Anderson / Photo: Jim A. Barker (Supplied)

In an interview, National Manager Marjorie Anderson spoke about what 13YARN can offer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“It’s much more conversational and relaxing to ring through” Marj said.

“They’ll be no judgement, no shame. Just somebody sitting in your space and trying to empower you to get the long term help you need or just talk you down from feeling anxious.”

“That’s all we want to do, to make sure that we protect Aboriginal lives”. Marjorie Anderson, 13YARN

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2021 suicide accounted for 5.3% of all deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people while the comparable proportion for non-Indigenous Australians was 1.8%. Marj and the team at 13YARN are hopeful that 13YARN can help bring down the suicide rate.

Many incredible services already exist for Australians to reach out for support, but Marj explained the unique challenges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are facing which requires an alternative service.

“We’ve got intergenerational trauma. We’re often in the lower bracket of income. We’ve got family dynamics and community responsibilities and sometimes that can weigh down on you.”

“The feedback that we got is that when Aboriginal people ring or speak to a non-Aboriginal service that they have to go through and educate that person on their culture, on their responsibilities, on their family dynamics and family makeup before they can get the help they need.”

13Yarn Facebook Post

13YARN is available for people in crisis but Marj encourages people to reach out much earlier than that to prevent things escalating.

“If you’re not feeling good. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or you get that horrible sick feeling in your stomach when things aren’t going well, when you’re anxious, that’s when you should ring.”

“Don’t wait till you’re in absolute crisis.”

13YARN or 13 92 76 is available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 24 hours a day from any phone in Australia. If you’re struggling or feeling overwhelmed, reach out on 13 92 76.

Article supplied with thanks to 96five.

Feature image: Canva Pro

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