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Exclusive: Calls to 13Yarn surged after the referendum

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Calls to First Nations crisis line 13Yarn increased after the Voice referendum was defeated, according to data given to TDA by the helpline.
13yarn calls after referendum

Calls to First Nations crisis line 13Yarn increased after the Voice referendum was defeated, according to data given to TDA by the helpline.

Calls to the Lifeline-supported service spiked minutes after the referendum result was announced on 14 October.

In the weeks since, 13Yarn has received increased calls about racism and abuse.

What is 13Yarn?

13Yarn is a free and confidential 24/7 crisis support line for First Nations people that launched last year.

Callers are connected with a First Nations person for support and advice about ongoing care options.

Post-referendum vote call surge

13Yarn National Manager Marjorie Anderson told TDA the service was inundated with calls “as soon as the outcome came out” after little activity for most of voting day.

Demand continued the following day, when 125 crisis calls were made on 15 October — more than double the calls 13Yarn typically receives on a Sunday.

Anderson said many callers feared that discussing their concerns with family would add to existing trauma felt by their loved ones.

13Yarn was receiving almost 100 calls every day in the two weeks after the referendum. They typically expect no more than 60 calls a day.

Anderson said callers felt “rejected by their own country” in the wake of the referendum result.

In the first two weeks of November, 25% of calls to 13Yarn reported racism and other abusive incidents — an increase of almost double from the start of the year.

Racism and abuse

Callers often said they were subject to online racism, which forced some to turn off their social media. Others reported verbally abuse in public.

Many First Nations people told 13Yarn that while they were often able to ignore racist remarks, they felt more triggered by them during this time — the impacts of what Anderson described as “trauma after trauma after trauma”.

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