Social Isolation and Loneliness

Have your say on social isolation and loneliness

Help us to better understand how Queenslanders view and experience social isolation and loneliness to inform our August 2021 submission to the Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry into Social Isolation and Loneliness. We are keen to hear your thoughts and ideas for the submission and to inform our work in 2021 - 2022.

We are interested in capturing your views and ideas regarding how Queenslanders understand and experience social isolation and loneliness. We will use your contributions to inform COTA Queensland's submission for the Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry into Social Isolation and Loneliness and for our work beyond August 2021. 

Social isolation and loneliness can be experienced at any stage in life. These are separate yet interconnected experiences, which may be interrelated with physical, social, emotional, lifestyle or personal factors. These experiences can be difficult to capture due to the individuality of experiences, the varying measurements, or under-reporting of those experiencing social isolation and/or loneliness; particularly loneliness as it is subjective (whereas social isolation is considered objective).

From a Commonwealth snapshot of high-income countries, between 10 - 30% of adults aged 65 years and older reported feeling socially isolated from others (with the figures showing 25% of Australian adults). Internationally, it has been suggested that of older adults, those over 75 years of age also report higher vulnerability to loneliness.

It has been estimated that roughly 1 in 4 Australians experience loneliness (or were currently experiencing an episode of loneliness). Those aged 18 – 25 years and 56 – 65 years showed higher vulnerability to loneliness, however, due to how responses were captured, this may misrepresent groups, particularly older cohorts (e.g. those who are digitally connected and have online access). The  Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that 1 in 10 Australians aged 15 years and over felt they have limited social support, and 1 in 2 Australians felt lonely at a minimum of one day per week. 

These reports capture large scale responses pre-COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are reports which have started to track the direct or indirect impact of the pandemic on different groups of people across regions. The pandemic may add complexity to existing or developing experiences of social isolation and loneliness.

These are among the issues that the Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry is exploring and on which we are seeking your views and ideas for the submission; however, the Hub will remain open to continue to capture important insights so we may better inform our ongoing work.

  • Social isolation and loneliness submission due

    COTA Queensland's contribution to the Inquiry into social isolation and loneliness was submitted 18 August 2021

  • Summary of submission provided on Community Hub

    COTA Queensland's list of recommendations was provided on Community Hub 31 August 2021

  • Survey and Ideas Wall open for completion

    COTA Queensland survey and ideas wall remains open for completion from 28 July 2021 through to 2022 (ongoing during 2022). 

  • QLD Parliamentary Social isolation and loneliness Inquiry report published

    Community Support and Services Committee provided the Inquiry report to the Legislative Assembly 6 December 2021.

     

The Australian Loneliness Dialogue

COTA Queensland participation in the Australian Loneliness Dialogue 17 May 2022

COTA Queensland response to QLD Parliamentary Inquiry report into social isolation and loneliness

COTA Queensland’s submission for the Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry into Social Isolation and Loneliness outlined several recommendations for the prevention and mitigation of social isolation and loneliness, some of which have been incorporated into the Queensland Parliamentary Report into Social Isolation and Loneliness which was released 6 December 2021.

COTA Queensland strongly supports the sound recommendations presented in the Parliamentary report. However, we also note several areas where further actions could be taken, including:

1. Recognition of causal factors for social isolation and loneliness

The report focused importantly on interventions that assist people who are already experiencing social isolation and loneliness. However, we need to address the underlying economic and social factors and the structural changes required to help prevent social isolation and loneliness e.g., inequities in essential services such as housing and transport may influence potential interventions or impact on peoples’ ability to participate in available supports or initiatives.

The required infrastructure is not always in place to support well-intentioned opportunities for digital inclusion, particularly in regional, rural and remote communities when digital infrastructure may not exist or be working how it should. We need to look at alternatives when people are not able to be online and see how community members find workarounds and how we can learn from their workarounds. This needs to be supported by the latest evidence including annual reports such as the one released by the Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) (2021).

2. Recognition of all approaches to tackling social isolation and loneliness (rather than social prescription used as a one-size fits all approach)

Social prescription is emphasised as the main approach in the report. While social prescription model is backed by the latest evidence, and a trend in the international arena, we acknowledge that the very nature of social isolation and loneliness is not a one-size fits all approach. We therefore recommend approaches that respect that social isolation and loneliness are a) two separate phenomena that are b) experienced in unique ways according to the individual and their life circumstances.

We need to build on the evidence through stories and examples of how factors change according to the region and the life circumstances of the individual (e.g., impact of remoteness, climate change, local resources; community acceptance/motivation for initiatives; and socioeconomic factors unique to specific regions).

3. Recognition of Sixty and Better programs in addition to the work of Neighbourhood and Community Centres

Neighbourhood and Community Centres are key spaces for community members, but we must not be confined to only these spaces. We need to be inclusive of other spaces and providers such as the Sixty and Better program based at local community groups/organisations, or for Sixty and Better to become part of Community Centre funding. We must harness, highlight, and promote such initiatives as gauges for (existing) strong supports which work.

We note that social prescription is similar or the same as community referral. We need to formalise an (often) informal process and work out how to establish incentives for health workers who identify those experiencing social isolation and/or loneliness to refer them to community organisations with link workers. We also need to work out how to fund an adequate number of link workers and services to address social isolation and/or loneliness issues.

In the report, there is no mention made of the prior work undertaken including the history of the Sixty and Better Program which has existed for almost 30 years assisting older Queenslanders impacted by social isolation and loneliness. Therefore, there should be sufficient ground to already implement recommendations within a e.g., 12 to 24-month period, rather than a 10-year strategy.

We continue to explore how social isolation and loneliness are impacting older Queenslanders through our Community Engagement Hub. We encourage community members, service providers, and those interested to share their thoughts and insights. These insights will help to inform our ongoing work.

  • Social isolation and loneliness

    This survey is about social isolation and loneliness and explores your views, experiences, and ideas about how these issues are experienced in Queensland and how they can be addressed. We will use your contribution to inform our submission for the Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry and our ongoing advocacy on this issue.

    The questions may take up to 30 minutes to complete depending on the detail provided in your answers. You can choose to complete the survey under your Engagement Hub profile or  to complete the survey anonymously. While we sometimes use examples people have provided us in order to illustrate issues being experienced in the community, we will never identify an individual person in our submissions. However you choose to complete the survey, please be assured your survey responses will be treated in confidence, and any contributions will be treated anonymously.

    This survey, and all the questions in it, are completely voluntary. You are welcome to choose not to submit your responses, or to refuse to answer any question you prefer to leave unanswered. If the questions in this survey bring up issues that are distressing for you, please see the resources section on this Hub page for links to a number of supports and services.

    This survey will be open for 2021 - 2022.

Idea Wall

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What are your ideas for how we could combat social isolation and loneliness in Queensland? They could be services or programs, changes to infrastructure, or ideas for how communities interact – what do you think could be done in our state?

Note: Content posted on the Ideas Wall is viewable to other members of the public accessing this page.