Home | News | “Have a cuppa and a chat’: Funding boost supports connections for older Qlders
Seniors Minister Charis Mullen has granted additional funding to address social isolation and loneliness among older Queenslanders. Picture: NCA Newswire/Tertius Pickard

“Have a cuppa and a chat’: Funding boost supports connections for older Qlders

The Queensland government has invested in additional funding for activities to improve social connections amongst older Queenslanders.

The extra $12.5m builds on the existing $20.5m allocated over the next five years to 42 existing Seniors Social Isolation Services that address social isolation and loneliness.

It will also establish a peak body to support the isolation services and provide advice on the effectiveness of the services and other issues.

Queensland Seniors Minister Charis Mullen said the funding was a way to give back to the "incredible contributions" older Queenslanders made to the state.

“We also want to see them live their best lives, which is why these grants will fund practical support for seniors at risk of being socially isolated," Ms Mullen said.

"We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of human connections, with research showing social isolation and loneliness can lead to individuals experiencing poorer mental and physical health.

"This is a great opportunity for organisations to contribute to the well-being of older Queenslanders by providing services and activities that bring people together."

Many older Australians experience feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression due to a range of factors, including the loss of important social supports, poor physical health, and limited cognitive capacity.

Data from the ABS found that 15 per cent of 65 to 85-year-olds said they experienced symptoms of a mental disorder in the past year, with some groups more vulnerable than others.

Chief of COTA Queensland Darren Young said he was very pleased to see the increased investment, especially since many older Australians are impacted by social isolation.

"We know from the 2021 National Elder Abuse Prevalence study that isolation, socially and geographically, is a risk factor for elder abuse," Mr Young told Aged Care Insite.

"Many adults aged 50 years and over indicated that social isolation and loneliness is viewed as a universal epidemic that does not discriminate.

"Given that it's not always a problem that's visible, this is also a 'silent' epidemic."

In 2022-23, Seniors Social Isolation Services engaged with around 79,000 older Queenslanders.

The services reach out to Queenslanders experiencing social isolation or those at risk – including those living in regional and remote areas – and encourage them to engage in activities to improve their quality of life and social connection.

Mr Young said the program provided immense value to communities, especially for those living alone.

"Through these programs, older adults meet new people and cultivate friendships, connect regularly with friends and acquaintances, stay fit, undertake creative projects, play games, and have a cuppa and a chat."

"Importantly, older adults can make valuable links with a myriad of services, establish networks of people they trust, and they can often find a sympathetic ear to express frustrations and concerns.

"Being socially connected has immeasurable benefits to our health as we age, and these government grants will support the great work being undertaken by our local communities."

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