Lifeline Canberra’s Mandy Larsson has been named a recipient of the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia, recognising her work for the organisation.
Ms Larsson is the Director of Crisis Support at Lifeline Canberra, and said receiving news that she’d been nominated by a Lifeline volunteer was “a real shock”.
“I suppose the most moving thing for me was the nomination … it initially was from a volunteer. That for me gives so much more meaning to it,” she said. “That the people that do all the work here, really, have nominated me, has such meaning.”
Ms Larsson started her career with Lifeline 15 years ago, moving through different roles before “finding her niche” in crisis support.
“I’ve always been attached to the crisis support, so that to me has a great deal of meaning. That’s where my passion is and I think I’ve probably stayed at Lifeline for this long because of the incredible team that we’ve got here,” she said.
“We’ve got about 310 volunteers at the moment, so it’s managing those volunteers … It’s the coordination of that and just making sure, logistically and operationally, we get to as many callers as we possibly can, but providing that consistent service.
“It’s all the training when a volunteer first comes to Lifeline, but then that ongoing debriefing, supervision support for our volunteers who then support the caller; it’s like a chain of support I suppose, so we can get to every call that we possibly can.”
In 2016, Ms Larsson was awarded the Golden Wattle Award from Lifeline, awarded to volunteers for 15 years of volunteer service. Ms Larsson still volunteers in the Lifeline call centre each week, to help the organisation and support the volunteers.
“I feel that’s really important that I understand, from a grassroots level, what’s happening in the phone room, what it’s like to be taking a call. So I know the volunteers’ frustrations but also their stresses and the pressures and get it from that level.”
Ms Larsson says the OAM is a “team award” for the staff and volunteers of Lifeline Canberra.
“It’s the staff and the volunteers that make Lifeline what it is today … Everyone puts in above and beyond what’s expected of them, and because it’s such a team environment, it inspires you to want to keep trying and keep pushing and keep challenging yourself.
“We’ve got lots of specialist services but not that general crisis service apart from Lifeline. I think it’s so needed … the 13 11 14 number; it’s there any time of the day or night.”
Other ACT residents to receive an OAM in the General Division include: Mr Stephen Edward Anderson; Mr Eugene Andrew Bajkowski; Mrs Paulene Mary Cairnduff; Mr Michael John Clarke; Mrs Amanda May Curtis; Mr Ross Dunn; Mr Frederick Peter Fawke; Mrs Gail Olivia Ford; Mrs Colleen Mary Graham; Ms Susan Adele Healy; Mr Colin Edward Holmes; Mr John Robert Ive; Ms Nicole Danielle Johnston; Mr Peter Handley Langhorne; Mrs Elizabeth Margaret Law-Smith; Mr Peter John Munday; Dr Holly Louise Northam; Ms Donna Maree O’Brien; Ms Glenys Patulny; Ms Vivienne Pearce; Mr David Ian Richards; Dr Margaret Ellen Shore; Mrs Rose Mary Shorney; Mrs Jane Newton Smyth; Mr Laurence Graham Stroud; Mr Ian Raymond Thompson; and Ms Nancy Tingey.
For the list of other ACT recipients in the Australia Day 2019 Honours List, please turn to page 16.