To my amazing back up squad,
Welcome and thanks to our many new supporters. Your voices will help me get change and every single one of you is a hero.
So yesterday we did the trek down to the Canberra EPIC Book Fair. I had invited the Board of Lifeline Australia to meet with me there to accept our petition.
They were a no show, though it looks like the Canberra BF actually is as amazing as I kept hearing. I reminded everyone l spoke to about how important that number is and how it deserves to be supported by safe workplaces.
A few friends turned up to support me (so many hugs and love to you all), which freed up my partner to get out and spread the word.
Chase was magnificent – a voice for me when l was too exhausted to keep trying to speak. She lapped the carpark, handed out 250 slips of paper with this link, and ended up having a foyer pow wow with several Canberra Lifeline staff, volunteers and the ceo. As l told their Facebook page, it’s different to be spoken to as humans.
These human beings working for Lifeline supported my girlfriend amazingly yesterday. They kept her hydrated, validated her very real anger and hurt, encouraged her to keep speaking and offered to speak with me as well. And they did all of this in full public view at a book fair. Only conflict I saw at Lifeline South Coast Book Fairs was me being (allegedly) publicly chastised by Clare Leslie for being ‘too enthusiastic’.
Despite them having earlier deleted a link to my petition from the event page, Lifeline Canberra last night responded to a post in the event informing the Board of Lifeline of my location.
Lifeline Canberra was courteous, respectful, open and the post is still there. Then Lifeline Canberra did something I never expected.
Lifeline Canberra took off the social media mask and ceo Carrie-Ann Leeson ‘owned’ the earlier comment.
This blew me away. It’s taken me a lot of thinking and meditating to realise how much this astonished me. And even more to absorb the gross divergence between ‘my version’ of Lifeline and this seeming utopia of values-in-action.
So very much wish I’d meet this human version of Lifeline while I still had the option to call 13 11 14 when in crisis.
Clare held the Canberra book fairs up to me as the shining pinnacle of excellence to emulate. At the exact same time she was shooting down every idea I had and ‘accidentally’ ensuring I could never reach my KPI’s. Every Canberra-esque idea I had for our book fairs was met with: ‘we don’t have their resources, Angela’.
Lifeline South Coast, based on what we experienced yesterday l can now even more confidently state that your resources drought is entirely self-inflicted. Your staff all end up quitting or in hospital because you actively undermine and bully them. Your best and most productive volunteers leave because you don’t look after them. No one wants to give you feedback because you either hide it or punish the speaker.
(Seriously, everyone knows the real reason Anthony* was made redundant was because he (successfully) predicted the failure of the ‘decentralization model’ and just publish the last 4 years of volunteer satisfaction survey results already – they all know what they said and just ignoring the words won’t fix the problems.)
Yes, Lifeline Canberra do have more resources but based on this one little sliver of interaction – they have more resources because they look after them better. Their people are happy because they feel safe. Their social media gets engagement because they engage there. Their book fair has more categories, is more browsable and gets more business because when someone came up with all those great idea they weren’t hit with a wall of obstruction and denial. Want Lifeline Canberra’s resources? Start by treating your workers like human beings.
Lifeline Canberra knew we were coming, they knew both our names. Some of them have even seen the video. They didn’t call the police, tell us to shut up, silence us to ‘protect the brand’.
Lifeline Canberra and ceo Carrie-Ann Leeson have given me hope that, despite the many stories of Lifeline bullying and harassment I’m hearing, there are seeds of hope this organisation can make the serious change it needs.
(Just incidentally, because we love happy news: Chase has spent her whole life being called ‘too angry’ while I’ve copped flack for joking and laughing when facing stress. Yesterday was the perfect petri dish for us to recognise that the truth behind these stories is that we use very different ‘prep’ devices to handle stress. Chase needs to tap into her anger to assess her passion heading into a battle. I need to make lots of jokes to get my resilience in place. Both are totally legitimate approaches, something we were both careful to keep supporting and reinforcing yesterday.
Chase used her anger like a fine-edged knife yesterday, slicing in as close to Lifeline as she could get. Her precise blade handling found the first bits of humanity from LL we’ve seen since 12 January. I kept the car fires burning, talked when l could and danced to country music next to the car when I couldn’t.
We both used the tools we needed and didn’t once shame or punish each other for it. I didn’t say ‘why are you angry?’ Chase didn’t say ‘this is no joking matter!’ We made it safe for each other.
Debriefing let us see this and put in place another huge chunk in the solid foundations we’re both committed to after years of broken relationships. This is how we’re making change for ourselves (also, coincidentally, our ‘celeb couple’ name).
Please keep sharing. Every time one of you posts this, we get triple digit signatures. I’ve been trying to like all the posts and shares I see and am sorry if I missed yours.
So much love,
Angela (and Chase)
Originally posted at https://www.change.org/p/lifeline-take-workplace-bullying-seriously/u/22367876