Brother Paul Smith returned to Australia from Britain in 1990 committed to establishing a national telephone counselling service for children that would be preventive.
As a De La Salle Brother, Paul Smith had worked with young people in a number of community and institutional settings. At the time of his visit to Britain he was in his tenth year as Director of Boystown, a residential facility for young males placed in care as the result of child protection concerns or offending behaviour. His frustration with Government bureaucracies and their inability to support preventive programs was well known in Queensland.
The study tour of Britain included time at Childline, a telephone counselling service for children established in 1986. Childline counselled 57,342 children in 1990 with more than 30% of their calls relating to physical or sexual abuse. Childline is 80% funded by donations and covenants, and markets itself to children in need of help and protection. The service is supported by a referral system and a client-call data base as well as a sophisticated supervision system for its volunteer counsellors.
Brother Paul returned home impressed with the potential of a service such as Childline, but determined to both broaden its access by children and to support the counselling with state-of-the-art technology.