Ending the loneliness epidemic in CQ

28 September 2021

We all want to live in a world where everyone feels a sense of connection and belonging.

Loneliness is regarded as the worlds hardest problem to solve. It crept silently into the Central Queensland community' becoming a concern for society' long before the arrival of COVID.

Last week' End Loneliness Inc. officially launched into the Rockhampton and Capricorn Coast community' after previous community forums' workshops and research highlighted that people within our community are lonely.

End Loneliness Inc. is a not-for-profit organisation led by local business and community members volunteering their time to implement the framework and strategies developed from The Loneliness Project 'Empowering Connections – Ending Loneliness'.

The Loneliness Project' an initiative of Kim Harrington CQUniversity Associate Vice President Rockhampton and Central Highlands Regions' was endorsed and adopted by CQUniversity Rockhampton Region Engagement Committee (RREC). The RREC championed the Loneliness Project for several years until the inception of End Loneliness Inc. in March 2021.

Ms Harrington said loneliness doesn't discriminate. It can touch people from all walks of life' all socioeconomic backgrounds and all ages.

"Everyone's experience of loneliness is different'" Ms Harrington said.

"Through community engagement we discovered that loneliness affects youth – the people who you think are most connected – the elderly' FIFO families and people who are new to the region.

"Using our findings' the committee embarked on a journey to address loneliness' and from this journey End Loneliness Inc. was developed."

Guest speaker' Steve Williamson who is the Chief Executive of the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CQHHS) said' "Research from the 2018 Australian Loneliness report identified that one in four Australian adults experience loneliness in their everyday lives."

"We can often think that loneliness mainly affects older people' however research has shown that 18-25 year old's are also particularly vulnerable to feeling lonely'" Mr Williamson said.

"Lonely Australians have significantly worse health status – both physical and mental – than connected Australians and this reflects what we see in our health services. Loneliness is something that everyone can experience and everyone can play a part at reducing it in our communities.

"I am delighted the CQHHS is part of this great initiative."

Committee President Matthew Doyle said the name 'End Loneliness' sums up their mission perfectly.

"We are not here to do something little. We are here to end the epidemic of loneliness'" Mr Doyle said.

"Today we hear a lot about a pandemic and often when we talk about loneliness and isolation it's easy to focus on COVID-induced loneliness and isolation but it has been a big issue for a long time before that and if we don't do something now' it will keep being a big issue for a long time after the COVID pandemic has been consigned to history."

Mr Doyle gave a special thank you to the committee members and the hard work they have put in since inception in 2016 and encouraged people to find End Loneliness Inc. on Facebook or visit the website endloneliness.org.au for helpful tools to end loneliness in the community.