Lifeline Canberra's biggest fundraising event is its annual book fair. It is loved by Canberrans and attracts over 50,000 people each year. Volunteers work all year to make it happen, and I was able to see some of these hardworking volunteers in action when I visited their busy warehouse late last year. It was set to celebrate its 50th book fair this past weekend, but unfortunately was forced to cancel the event on the weekend over safety concerns relating to protesters at Epic on Friday, including the destruction of fencing.
For more than 50 years, Lifeline Canberra has provided telephone support for people in crisis. Lifeline is the benchmark for suicide prevention and mental health advocacy. We lose one Canberran every week to suicide, and Lifeline Canberra is vital in keeping this awful statistic from being higher. This crisis support has never been more important than during this pandemic, with family and social support structures torn apart through lockdown and border closures. Nationally, Lifeline receives a new call every 30 seconds and received over one million calls last year alone.
The book fair had set a fundraising target of $1 million over the three days. Lifeline Canberra's annual running cost is $4 million, so the book fair is crucial. I urge Canberrans to continue to get behind Lifeline's important work, especially in light of the book fair being cancelled this year.