Counselling and Mentoring

25 years of Kids Helpline

For 25 years, KHL has been playing a critical role in protecting children and young people across Australia. No matter how big or small the problem, we help young people express themselves, build confidence and live safely.

We do this by:

Giving children and young people choices, support and someone to listen any time and for any reason

Children and young people can contact our professionally qualified counsellors directly on the phone and via email every day of the week, every hour of the day. Live WebChat is also available from 8am to 12pm (AEST) seven days a week. This includes:

  • One-off counselling and crisis support
  • Information and referral
  • Ongoing counselling and case management.

Issues discussed can include anything from relationships with friends and family and school worries, through to homelessness, child abuse, body image, mental health, self-injury and suicide.

Partnering with protection agencies, the corporate sector and educators to ensure the most vulnerable can access help

We work closely with child protection authorities in every state and territory to inform social policy and ensure that our interventions will continue to keep children and young people safe. In 2015, this included 1,720 emergency care actions (Duty of Care) initiated by KHL to protect children and young people from immediate harm e.g. contacting the Police, Ambulance or other agency.

KHL is working with the National Children’s eSafety Commissioner to help children and young people stay safe online. The Office refers cyberbullying-related contacts to KHL for the provision of counselling and support for young people experiencing issues arising from their online interactions. We also support young people making an official complaint to the Commissioner about cyberbullying.

Our Kids Helpline @ School program brings education and information about key issues affecting young people into primary school classrooms via virtual technology and the funding support of Optus.

Responding to the changing needs of children and young people by finding new ways of being there 24/7

KHL is working with a number of research partners to develop specialised online learning and counselling tools for children and young people.

Kids Helpline is 72% funded by yourtown. The Federal, Queensland and Western Australian Governments fund 28%.

Top 5 concerns of all Kids Helpline counselling contacts aged 5–25 years 2015

New KHL website

Already a leading source of self-help information, the KHL website has been redeveloped to attract our young, tech savvy, social audience and provide more rapid access to our web and email counselling service.

The new look site has increased functionality, including improvements to real-time WebChat counselling, with an improved look and optimisation for mobile devices. The site was launched in early 2016.

Teens connect through Pandora

KHL teamed up with the Future Generation Investment Company (FGX) to create a branded radio station with Pandora Internet Radio that’s especially for teens, an Australia first initiative launched to let young people know help is available 24/7.

Pandora offers free personalised radio to listeners and has 500,000 registered 13–18 year olds in Australia, with 220,000 active users each month. From a curated playlist, ‘KHL Good Vibes’ played feel-good pop songs loved by teens interspersed with KHL advertising from December 2015 to January 2016.

Molly & Sue

KHL Client & her mum

They saved her life...

“There are times I know I would not have made it through to the next morning if I hadn’t been able to call Kids Helpline… there’s no way I’d still be here today.”

- Molly, KHL client

“Every day I have with my daughter is precious. I don’t know if we would still have Molly if it wasn’t for Kids Helpline … they have saved her life on numerous occasions.”

- Sue, Molly's mum

KHL turns 25!

KHL was created to give children and young people somewhere to turn when they needed help - particularly in relation to concerns such as abuse and neglect. Opening on 25 March 1991, more than 3,200 young people called us on our first day. Over the years we have made remarkable achievements and seen changes in why young people contact us and also in how they do this.

In 1991, the internet did not exist the way we think of it today. In 2000, we were world leaders establishing the first real-time web counselling service. Today, we respond to thousands of contacts via chat and email and our website provides a wealth of information to children, young people and adults about key issues affecting young people. We also talk to classrooms across Australia via video conferencing.

KHL responded to more than 7.5 million (7,533,821) contacts from children and young people over 25 years.

In 2016, our services continue to evolve to meet the contemporary needs of children and young people and maintain our promise to be there for them 24/7 for any reason.

Changes in most common KHL concerns over 20 years

  • 626% increase in contacts about mental health and/or emotional health, including self-injury*
  • 246% increase in contacts about suicide*
  • 58% increase in contacts about study and/or education issues
  • 89% decrease in contacts about contraception and safe sex
  • 81% decrease in contacts about pregnancy
  • 59% decrease in contacts about peer relationships

For more insights about KHL, check out our 2015 Kids Helpline Insights report

* Increase in mental health contacts likely due to increased community awareness of mental health issues, changes in counselling model and qualification, and increased age eligibility of KHL clients.

Will and James join in the birthday celebrations!

Matt Middleton

Counselling Centre Supervisor

Working at yourtown —“This feels right.”

If you’d like to know about Kids Helpline over the last 25 years than go no further then yourtown Counselling Centre Supervisor Matt. Starting with KHL in June 1991, Matt’s been with KHL almost since day one.

A fresh faced 21 year old when he started, he left the third year of an advertising/graphic design degree to pursue a career in which he could help people. We asked Matt a few questions about his time at yourtown.

Why did you decide to work for KHL?

“After a few work placements I realised that graphic design wasn’t for me. My family had always had an interest in social justice. My mum had worked for the Department of Child Protection and we had foster kids live with us as I grew up. I saw an ad in the paper about a new service called Kids Helpline and thought, yes, this feels right.”

What process did you follow?

“I wrote a very honest application and was granted an interview, then went through a process that looked at whether a person had the values and attributes that made them right to be trained for KHL. Then and now, KHL worked around a unique therapeutic client-centred strength-based framework. I went through an eight week training program where employment was not confirmed until completed successfully.”

Today, KHL still offers specialised training as part of the KHL recruitment process but also asks that staff have a tertiary counselling degree and one year of experience before coming on board. Many like Matt, who now has a Masters Degree in Counselling, have post-graduate degrees.

What have you seen change over your 25 years at KHL?

“The internet and email did not exist in mainstream use in 1991 with the only form of non realtime communication via letter or written note. That’s very different today.

Kids used to call us a lot when they’d been left home alone. This was very common in the 90s. Definitely a lot of adolescent and puberty related calls from those thinking about sexual relationships. General peer relationships, bullying and school related issues were also very common.

Today, we have similar themes but now technology has fed into that i.e. cyberbullying, sexting and alike issues. Technology can be helpful at times but can also amplify problems.

Over time, we have also put more robust procedures in place around risk and duty of care in line with other changes in the community. This has meant changes in the level of professionalism in terms of tightened procedures. These were really important given we extended our age range to 25 years. When we did that we started getting a lot more complex mental health calls from the older 18-25 age bracket. There was a lot higher risk of emergency care being needed. It’s also meant longer wait times for people calling because our counselling sessions are longer.”

What do you believe is the most challenging part of your job?

“Two things come to mind. One is when it gets super busy, which it frequently does, where as a supervisor you can have multiple competing demands at any one time. Having to filter and prioritise in the heat of the moment where you could be juggling across one, two or three crisis contacts from clients at one time and at the same time responding to requests for debrief support and managing the other operational aspects of the shift. My job is to assist where needed which can include crisis contacts and help to decide if Duty of Care is necessary i.e. emergency support.

The other challenge is adequate self-care working with such traumatic presentations from clients, which can be anything and everything from suicide, abuse, break down or psychotic episodes.”

What is the best thing about your job?

“KHL has such an incredible reach. Almost every child and young person in Australia can have access to 24/7 support if they are feeling unsafe or would like to talk through any issue. This is part of what attracted me in 1991 as a 21 year old and this hasn’t changed. If you stop and think, any child or young person who has access to a telephone or internet can access highly qualified and professional counseling as well as crisis support. We can be proud of this as a community and a country that we have an organisation that is mainly community funded that is able to support services like that.

I also work with amazing colleagues. We have a lot of amazing people from different backgrounds but they all have an interest in empowering and supporting young people and parents. They are also very interesting people in themselves. KHL attracts a certain kind of person – highly creative in all different kinds of ways.”

Working at yourtown —“This feels right.”

If you’d like to know about Kids Helpline over the last 25 years than go no further than yourtown Counselling Centre Supervisor Matt. Starting with KHL in June 1991, Matt’s been with KHL almost since day one.

A fresh faced 21 year old when he started, he left the third year of an advertising/graphic design degree to pursue a career in which he could help people. We asked Matt a few questions about his time at yourtown.

Why did you decide to work for KHL?

“After a few work placements I realised that graphic design wasn’t for me. My family had always had an interest in social justice. My mum had worked for the Department of Child Protection and we had foster kids live with us as I grew up. I saw an ad in the paper about a new service called Kids Helpline and thought, yes, this feels right.”

Read More

Parentline

Available to parents and carers across Queensland and the Northern Territory, the seven-day-a-week professional telephone and online counselling and information service helps parents work through issues like:

  • Child mental health/emotional wellbeing
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Parenting strategies
  • Parent mental health/emotional wellbeing.

All Parentline counsellors are trained Kids Helpline counsellors, giving them a unique understanding of issues facing parents and their children.

We know our service helps.

Parent capabilities found to be common protective factors that prevent child abuse and neglect include:

  • Parenting confidence
  • Parenting strategies and skills
  • Relationship with child/children
  • Understanding of child/children
  • Capacity to cope, and
  • Ability to care for child/children.

Feedback from 660 parents and carers who used Parentline between 2011–15 showed that the service was very effective or effective in increasing these parent capabilities.

Parentline is funded by the Queensland and Northern Territory Governments.

This year, Parentline responded to 8,713 contacts.

“The Counsellor I spoke to listened very well - didn't interrupt. She was calm but she had personality. She reassured me that what I already knew was OK - I needed that reassurance. She gave that to me in a professional way with the human side of it.”

- Parentline caller

Police referrals

Parentline works with the Queensland Police Service to support vulnerable parents and carers in the community to get the support they need 365 days a year. Individuals and families benefit from a collective community response, with Police alerting Parentline to a need and our service being there to provide professional counselling and other support.

We do this by providing outbound non-crisis calls that support those experiencing issues such as:

  • domestic violence
  • mental health concerns
  • alcohol and drug misuse
  • elder and carers support
  • legal assistance
  • accommodation assistance.

Celebrating 20 years of Parentline

In 2016, Parentline celebrated its 20th birthday. Parentline came aboutbecause close to 10% of calls (15,000) to Kids Helpline in 1995 were from parents and carers asking for parenting help. Many of these people were over the age of 25 years.

In response, we trialled a parent-focused service across South East Queensland. The aim was to provide a professional counselling service that educated and encouraged parents and carers to build on their strengths to better understand and work with their family, and find solutions to challenges. The trial was an overwhelming success with Parentline officially launched across Queensland in 1996, and extending to the Northern Territory in 2004.

Parentline has responded to more than 200,000 telephone and online contacts over 20 years.

Children’s challenging behaviour has stayed the number one concern over the last two decades. The most notable change to contacts was around the mental and emotional health of children, with contacts about this almost doubling (6% to 10%) in 20 years.

For more insights about Parentline over the last 20 years, check out our 2015 Parentline Insights 20 Years report on our website.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk joined the helplineā€™s celebration and met with Parentline counsellors about issues affecting parents and carers who contact the service.

Youthful Offenders Program

For many young people in prisons repeated incarceration is normal. For these young people childhood is often marked by trauma, family circumstances are chaotic, and substance abuse and mental health issues are common.

Some have barely known freedom since the age of 10, moving directly from juvenile detention to adult prison. In 2013, Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) invited yourtown to develop and pilot the Youthful Offenders Program to address the needs of this group.

We work with young men aged 18 to 25 at Woodford Correctional Centre and aged 17 at the Brisbane Correctional Centre. We combine intensive individual support with workshops that help young men address their personal challenges, stay safe while incarcerated, and make achievable plans for a future outside the criminal justice system.

We do this by:

  • Addressing the underlying causes of offending and re-offending
  • Improving core skills
  • Identifying strategies to achieve goals and meet challenges
  • Supporting participants to re-engage with family, education, employment and community.

Feedback from 660 parents and carers that used Parentline between 2011–15 showed that the service was very effective or effective in increasing these parent capabilities.

The program is funded by the Queensland Government.

This year, 159 young people took part in the program.

03 What we do