Samantha Fredericks: Meet the psychologist who is On the Line

Roo’s On the Line!

Is it any surprise that Roo went missing?  Of all the stuffed animals owned by Christopher Robin that feature in A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories, Roo was the smallest; often portrayed in perilous positions.  Poor Roo doesn’t get to join all the other stuffed animals on display in the New York Public Library. 

The others are there.  Except for Owl and Rabbit, characters made up by the author.  There’s Pooh: positive and cheerful but lacking common sense.  Piglet: who sees himself as puny and helpless in a big world.  Eeyore: the despondent donkey – bitter, sarcastic and pessimistic. Kanga: kind-hearted and calm. And Roo’s best friend Tigger: the exuberant and self-confident tiger.

It’s almost a hundred years since A.A. Milne wrote the Winnie-the-Pooh stories but they still have comic appeal to readers, young and old.  They’re also notable for the rich complexity of the characters. 

It’s a complexity that wouldn’t be lost on the ‘On the Line’ team.  

‘On the Line’ is a ‘professional social health organisation that provides counselling support, anywhere, anytime, through remote technologies including telephone, online counselling and innovative digital solutions.’

It has been providing counselling and mental health services to the community for over 60 years.  ‘On the Line’ provides 26 services.  Most notably, it is the national provider of Mensline Australia, Suicide Call Back Service and SuicideLine Victoria. 

On the Line’s Hundred Acre Wood

Your Beaumaris Rotary Club Correspondent recently caught up with ‘On the Line’ CEO Sam Fredericks, and asked her, “What’s going on in her Hundred Acre Wood?”  

Sam explained, “Every call or contact is different. Callers can be suffering from social isolation. They can be suicidal. It may even be substance abuse-related.” 

Your Club Correspondent tried to imagine she was waiting for the phone to ring, the webchat or video chat to initiate. Who’s on the other end of the line? 

“With the Suicide Call Back Service,” said Sam, “It could be someone contemplating suicide, someone bereaved by suicide or someone concerned about another person.  Whereas, MensLine is available for all kinds of relationship matters; anxiety about work, or family violence; either way. Even anxious new dads!”

“It’s more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long difficult words, but rather short, easy words like ‘what about lunch?’” – Winnie the Pooh

During the lockdown period, ‘On the Line’ counsellors and non-counsellors alike, have rotated between home and office.  At any one time, only half of the ‘On the Line’ staff numbers has been in the office, handling a 10% increase in call volumes.  Always open.  Staff work 24/7.  Perspex screens, signage, hygiene procedures, registration and masks are now all part of their daily routine. 

“A hug is always the right size.” – Winnie the Pooh

Sam speaks appreciatively of her team, “I’m proud and really grateful. Proud at how resilient they’ve been; how supportive of each other. Grateful, they’ve all used their best skills to help each other while responding to people in need of support.”

“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.” – Winnie the Pooh

Masks for ‘On the Line’

To show our Rotary Club support for the ‘On the Line’ team, the Club’s three ‘Mask-eteers’; Kerrie Geard, Shirley Mirams and Heather Chisholm, are busy sewing colourful masks.  

It won’t be long before the ‘On the Line’ team is enjoying its outdoor Christmas party celebrations; resplendent in festive masks courtesy of the Beaumaris Rotary Club! 

There might even be a special mask for Roo, if they can find him. 

Want to learn more about Rotary? Please contact Megan: Tel: 0418 578 114

Megan’s our Beaumaris Rotary Membership Director. The title sounds a little formal but trust us, she’s the friendliest person you’ll ever meet! 

Suicide Call Back Service. MensLine. It’s a pretty serious business. Dealing with all kinds of relationship matters; anxiety about work, or family violence. And much more. Even anxious new dads! 

This article doesn’t seek to make light of the matter but, as someone who’s worked as a trauma counsellor, your author thinks that readers sometimes need a hook to encourage them to read on. Otherwise, it’s all too hard a topic for discussion. Our Rotary Club recognises that these counsellors and their support team do an amazing job! 

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