Technology a lifesaver for Lifeline – Sydney Morning Herald


Every second counts when someone in crisis contacts the service. Gaining access to the best-in-breed technology, through Lifeline’s partnership with Cisco, is critical for the organisation to be able to evolve and handle more interactions.

Julie Canepa is CIO, Cisco Asia Pacific, Japan & Greater China, and says Cisco and Lifeline have built a strong technology partnership spanning the past several years.

“We share the view that technology can bring exponential value to bring about meaningful change and provide lasting, measurable impact on human lives,” Canepa says. “Not only do we provide technology which has the power to provide connection quickly, reliably and securely, we fundamentally align with Lifeline’s purpose to help people in need.”

Most of Lifeline’s crisis supporters work in one of its centres, supported by coaches. Some do work remotely, including a number of text and chat volunteers, says Lifeline’s Parkin, with stringent guidelines in place to ensure they are set up properly.

“We have a disparate group of volunteers, and technology is key for anyone to be able to reach us at any time, from anywhere. Cisco’s platform helps us to deliver a more consistent experience in more efficient way. It’s a lifesaver for Lifeline.”

While people in crisis have always been able to contact the 24-hour hotline, more recently, Australians have also been able to talk to a Lifeline crisis supporter via text or chat. These channels are not yet manned 24/7, but they are proving to be very popular avenues for people in crisis to reach Lifeline volunteers.

“Our priority is to ensure help seekers can contact us through whatever channel they are most comfortable using,” Parkin says. “It will always be important for people in crisis to be able to reach us via phone. But we find younger people feel often more comfortable using chat or SMS. We just want to be there for people when they need us.”

Canepa says the Lifeline partnership is a great example of the global technology company’s vision to power an inclusive future for all.

“Technology is no longer a barrier to overcome to get connected, but an enabler,” she says. “Using advanced capabilities such as language translation, smart call routing, analytics and AI can extend the reach even further. This scales the service Lifeline provides and opens channels to more people, including hard to reach communities. It makes it easier for volunteers to participate, opens up new possibilities for much needed funding and creates opportunities for inclusion across Australia for organisations to work with Lifeline.”

Being able to work with a state-of-the art technology platform also assists Lifeline to develop the best possible “VX” – volunteer experience – as well as the highest quality “HSX” – help seeker experience.

Parkin says: “VX is a critical focal point for us. We have to make it a great experience for our volunteers so they want to remain volunteers. This means making it easy to use and ensuring they have everything they need to perform their role.”

As for the future, Lifeline is exploring how it can extend its services to provide even more support to Australians right around the country.

“We are dedicated to helping Australians anytime, anywhere. The pandemic has demonstrated how important our work is,” Parkin concludes.

Crisis support is available from Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For further support, to volunteer or donate visit

To learn more about how Cisco’s Technology is helping achieve a more inclusive future for all, click here.