Full Statement on Nine News Story



A Serious Breach of Our Values

The submission of inflated figures to the Victorian Government in relation to Suicide Line Victoria is a serious breach of trust and a failure to uphold our values as a mental health service provider.

We sincerely apologise to our funders, staff and the community for what has happened.

We believe the misconduct occurred due to a failure of governance, which is why we are choosing to be upfront about what went wrong and how we are going to solve it.

In November last year, the board of directors at On the Line received a serious allegation of misreporting to funders from an unknown whistleblower.

The board then engaged a law firm to conduct an external investigation. The investigation concluded misreporting had occurred in relation to Suicide Line Victoria since 2018 and the former CEO was aware of it.

The board has since heard several reports from employees of an increase in stress due to a culture that prioritises quantity of calls over quality of care.

On The Line has grown rapidly over the last four years and while the board’s intention was to increase the number of customers who could access On the Line’s services when they needed it most, some staff have reported the opposite effect, resulting in employee burn out and high rates of turn over.

The board accepts full responsibility for the staff performance issues, but it simply cannot tolerate behaviour that does not prioritise the accuracy of our reporting, which is why the board lost confidence in the former CEO.

On the Line’s mission is to help people feel better and create a life worth living. The board is deeply troubled by what has happened and wishes to apologise to the community who rely on the integrity of our services.

We understand the misreporting of Suicide Line Victoria may call other services into question, which is why we have put in place an external audit to understand the full extent of the misreporting.

The board understands the manual process of compiling the data into a report created the opportunity for misreporting to occur.

The implementation of a new digital system which started more than a year ago aimed to resolve this issue, but the board was unable to identify the reporting vulnerability until it was too late.

The digital system will come online over the next month, followed by a new data governance system designed to restore confidence in our internal processes.

As part of its remediation process, the board engaged employees to understand their concerns and identify ways it can rebuild trust in the workplace.

On the Line is also working closely with its funders including the Victorian Department of Health to correct what has happened, share information and respond to their inquiries.

Moving forward, our priority is to address the cultural issues in the workplace, improve the quality of our data governance and create a more supportive work environment for all our staff.

A board review is currently being prepared to understand why it failed to put the right questions to the former CEO and hold itself accountable to the concerns raised by stakeholders during this period.

We expect an interim CEO will be appointed by the end of the month to serve until at least the end of January 2022.

We want to remain accountable to this process and proactively address concerns within the community, which is why we have launched this inquiry and invited scrutiny wherever possible.

We will release more information once available and invite the community to share their views directly via email to feedback@ontheline.org.au.

For media enquiries or further information, contact:

Patrick Stafrace