Take Survey
MEDIA, JOBS & RESOURCES for the COMMON GOOD
NEWS  |  Communities

Helping Australia’s Lonely People


Thursday, 15th November 2018 at 8:41 am
Luke Michael, Journalist
Community groups say Australia needs a national strategy to tackle loneliness as a public health priority, as new research reveals lonely Australians are suffering significant physical and mental health issues.


Thursday, 15th November 2018
at 8:41 am
Luke Michael, Journalist


0 Comments


FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

 Print
Helping Australia’s Lonely People
Thursday, 15th November 2018 at 8:41 am

Community groups say Australia needs a national strategy to tackle loneliness as a public health priority, as new research reveals lonely Australians are suffering significant physical and mental health issues.

On Tuesday, loneliness awareness charity Friends for Good hosted Australia’s first national conference on loneliness, bringing together lonely people, community groups, government and academia to start a meaningful dialogue on the issue.

The conference discussed how loneliness affected people of all ages and backgrounds.

Gerard Mansour, the commissioner for senior Victorians, told attendees that when speaking with seniors about loneliness, they often told him getting older was a like living in a closet, as you were no longer seen or heard.

Another presenter Joe Ball, the CEO of LGBTIQ+ support service Switchboard Victoria, spoke about “the loneliness of being in between” experienced by LGBTIQ+ people, who felt like they didn’t fit into their communities.

The conference was held just days after new research from Swinburne University and the Australian Psychological Society found lonely Australians suffered significantly worse physical and mental health than non-lonely people.

The survey of more than 1,600 Australians showed that one in four Australians reported being lonely, while nearly 30 per cent said they didn’t feel part of a group of friends.

Researchers said the findings confirmed that loneliness was strongly connected to a poorer quality of life and lower psychological wellbeing.

Friends for Good chairperson Patricia Lauria, told Pro Bono News that Australia needed a national strategy to tackle loneliness as a public health priority – as research had shown loneliness was as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

This idea was strongly supported by conference attendees, who resolved to send a delegation to Canberra to strongly advocate for this.

“We are calling on the federal government to formulate a national loneliness strategy, whether that involves a minister, or a commissioner, or some office that will spearhead efforts,” Lauria said.

“It might even be just the development of a new policy, but either way we want the government to take some leadership on this really important issues and begin to work with the community sector in formulating a response.”

Lauria said she was pleased to see that tackling loneliness had begun to attract political support, with Victorian MP Fiona Patten recently calling for a ministry for loneliness, while federal MP Andrew Giles has just put forward a Private Member’s Motion to debate loneliness.

Friends for Good currently runs Friend Line, a phone service allowing people feeling lonely to have an anonymous chat with a volunteer.

Lauria said Friend Line was importantly available as an evening service, which helped it fill a gap in the community.

“There are many services that are available during the day but people often find the evenings to be a very lonely time,” she said.

“And it’s an opportunity to call up and speak to someone as you would a friend, to hear about what the volunteers have been doing during their day and to speak to them about all different topics of interest.

“It’s also a way for people to have a sense of connection with others in the community.”

Lauria, who has extensive experience working in the community sector, encouraged charities helping lonely people to work together and form a national network.

“Often we’re working in silos and it would be ideal if we could share information and support each other in our work, so that when our workers need to know what’s happening in their local community, they have access to that information,” she said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing issues with mental health, please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Q Life 1800 184 527, or headspace on 1800 650 890.


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.


Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers?

Get in touch at news@probonoaustralia.com.au

Get more stories like this

FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

A New Conversation Starter

Wendy Williams

Tuesday, 4th October 2016 at 11:47 am

Australia Getting Lonelier Survey Shows

Wendy Williams

Tuesday, 27th September 2016 at 11:53 am

POPULAR

NDIS Service Providers Cautious Over Complex Needs Pricing Shake-Up

Maggie Coggan

Monday, 10th December 2018 at 5:11 pm

Australians With Disability Twice as Likely to be Evicted Without Cause

Luke Michael

Wednesday, 5th December 2018 at 5:29 pm

SA Urged to Embrace Co-Op Model to Fix Aged Care and Disability Worker Shortages

Luke Michael

Wednesday, 5th December 2018 at 8:37 am

Glyn Davis Confirmed as New Head of the Ramsay Foundation

Maggie Coggan

Wednesday, 5th December 2018 at 6:00 pm

Take Survey
pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook

Get the social sector's most essential news coverage. Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

You have Successfully Subscribed!