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A new organisation was recently launched to take on the national loneliness epidemic, by bringing people together.

Ending Loneliness Together is a registered charity created by a national network of universities and industry partners.

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.

Their aim is to raise awareness of loneliness as an important social, health and economic problem, learn from lived experiences of loneliness, and build the tools necessary to tackle chronic loneliness effectively.

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A national approach

A leading expert on loneliness, Scientific Chair Dr Michelle Lim, said ‘The impact of loneliness in Australia is broad and deep; it cuts across all sectors of our society.

‘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.’

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COVID has made things worse

Dr Lim said, ‘Loneliness was already prevalent in Australia prior to the onset of COVID-19. And the impact of loneliness is expected to endure beyond the immediate public health crisis.

‘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” said Dr Lim.

Relationships Australia National Executive Officer, Nick Tebbey, believes loneliness can have devastating impacts on relationships and. He says it’s vital to equip people with the tools they need to foster healthy connections.

‘Sustainable social connections are important as a key tool to addressing loneliness in our communities,’ he said.

‘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.’

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Loneliness can affect anyone

UnitingCare Australia National Director, Claerwen Little, says loneliness is something we can all relate to.

‘Loneliness can affect anyone,’ she said, ‘but we know that people on lower incomes are more likely 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 than ever, and it’s time for that to change,’ said Ms Little.

If you would like to join the movement to end loneliness in Australia, you can visit the website for more info.

You can also read the Ending Loneliness Together white paper at this link.