Parliamentary Inquiry into Loneliness and Social Isolation
On 27 May 2021, the Legislative Assembly agreed to a motion that the Community Support and Services Committee inquire into and report on social isolation and loneliness in Queensland.
There are many respected definitions of the terms social isolation and loneliness. The Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy informed the committee that acknowledging and understanding the differences between social isolation and loneliness is important.
SGQ called on medical and health professionals, the government and non-government sector, to demonstrate an increased commitment to social prescribing. We recommended that people join support groups, patient organisations and social groups that can connect people to other people that share the same journey and stated that peer support should not be an afterthought.
The Queensland Families and Communities Association highlighted the important role played by Neighbourhood and Community Centres, stating that:
Integral to centres is the goal of fostering connection, belonging, participation and inclusion, and this is the antidote to social isolation and loneliness. Centres across Queensland are working every day in ways tailored to their local communities to achieve this. Centres facilitate involvement in both centre-based activities and projects as well as broader community participation. That linking role is critical as it supports individuals to navigate the broader service system, access key supports and find meaningful opportunities for volunteering, mutual support and social connection so there is both a preventive and a crisis response together.
As part of this linking role, neighbourhood centres also actively foster, engage and support local networks, community projects groups and organisations. SGQ noted that building quality relationships and increasing opportunities for social interaction are important protective factors.