By Juliano Oliveira
A joint effort movement to put an end to isolation and bring the Australian community together has been launched and named “Ending Loneliness Together”.
Universities and industry partners fill the core of the coalition, whose objective is to raise awareness of loneliness as a fundamental social, health and economic problem.
The founding organisations are Relationships Australia, the University of Western Australia, WayAhead, The Whiddon Group, Swinburne University of Technology, UnitingCare Australia, and State Schools’ Relief.
By working together, the institutions will deliver recommendations across multiple sectors to drive a national approach to cease isolation, beginning with evidence base and tools necessary to tackle chronic loneliness effectively.
“The impact of loneliness in Australia is broad and deep; it cuts across all sectors of our society,” said Scientific Chair, Dr Michelle Lim, Australia’s leading scientific expert on loneliness.
“Loneliness relates to the quality of our social relationships and is typically characterised by subjective feelings of social disconnection. People feel that they don’t belong, or that they’re misunderstood. Loneliness distorts how we relate to others and disrupts social cohesion in our communities.”
COVID-19 has potentialised the felling of solitude among Australians and, as time goes by, this sensation might expand.
“We need to address this issue on a national level, to respond to the current crisis, and prepare Australians to increase their social resilience for the future” Dr Lim said.
Relationships Australia National Executive Officer, Nick Tebbey, said loneliness could have devastating impacts on relationships, and it is vital to equip people with the tools they need to foster healthy connections.
“Sustainable social connections are important as a key tool for addressing loneliness in our communities. We’re proud to be a founding member of Ending Loneliness Together and continue in our commitment to reducing the stigma of loneliness, to support healthy relationships and to provide wrap-around support when people are at their most vulnerable”, said Mr Tebbey.
UnitingCare Australia National Director, Claerwen Little, said that loneliness is something we can all relate to.
“Loneliness can affect anyone, but we know that people on lower incomes are more likely to be impacted. The pandemic has exacerbated this and created additional barriers which is why we must ensure services are there to support people, when and where they need them. Loneliness is more prominent in than ever, and it’s time for that to change – which is what Endling Loneliness Together is all about” said Ms Little.