04/02/2021 - 09:00

Counselling course puts cabbies in driver’s seat

04/02/2021 - 09:00

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Swan Taxis has formed a partnership with Lifeline WA to train drivers as ‘accidental counsellors’ and help them talk to passengers who may be distressed.

Counselling course puts cabbies in driver’s seat
Swan Taxis driver Shafiqullah Ismailzai participated in the counselling workshop. Photo: Lifeline WA

Swan Taxis has formed a partnership with Lifeline WA to train drivers as ‘accidental counsellors’ and help them talk to passengers who may be distressed.

The partnership is non-financial, with Lifeline WA offering the training in exchange for advertising on Swan Taxis’ vehicles.

Four drivers have attended the workshop so far, and Lifeline WA said it hoped to eventually roll-out the training to all 3,000 of Swan Taxis’ drivers.

Lifeline WA’s accidental counselling course is for people with no counselling experience who may find they are required to deal with people facing difficult issues or people with challenging behaviours in their daily life.

Lifeline WA chief executive Lorna MacGregor said the training covered the basics of dealing with people who might be emotionally distressed or angry.

“Taxi drivers do sometimes interact with people in vulnerable states, but what this training makes clear is that they should not try to provide advice,” she said.

“Instead, the drivers will be taught how to listen appropriately and direct passengers to services like Lifeline WA for professional support if needed.”

It was hoped Lifeline WA’s advertising on Swan Taxis would help raise awareness of the support Lifeline WA offered, Ms MacGregor said.

Swan Taxis are often working late nights when people might have been drinking or otherwise vulnerable, so having that visible reminder that help is available is important,” she said.

Swan Taxis chief executive Wye Keong Lai said the partnership reflected Swan Taxis’ goal of looking after its staff and customers.

“Sadly, the rate of suicide is increasing in the community and we are proud to work with Lifeline WA in promoting suicide prevention within our company and across the community,” he said.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 3,318 people died from suicide in 2019, compared to 2,337 a decade earlier.

Mr Lai said he hoped the program would help drivers guide those in need to support services.

“Even if we manage to help save one life, it is still a big win for all of us,” he said.

Most Swan Taxis drivers will complete the course online.

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