Australian State Probes Pandemic’s Loneliness Impact

BRISBANE, Australia — Containing Covid-19 has been Australia’s North-eastern state, Queensland’s priority during the pandemic, and now the state will investigate how lockdown and limits on visitors affected mental health.

Social isolation and loneliness are the subjects of a parliamentary Inquiry amid a pandemic in which one of the most effective weapons has been limiting contact between family and friends.

“In 2020, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that the personal stressor most experienced by Australians during the Covid-19 pandemic was loneliness,” Communities Minister Leeanne Enoch said on May 27.

“One in five Australians reported feelings of loneliness and social isolation as a result of the pandemic.”

“Everyone has a role to play in addressing social isolation and loneliness, including communities, governments, service providers, and businesses, which is why we are providing opportunities for Queenslanders to give input to this Parliament Inquiry.

“The Committee will also ensure that people who have been impacted by social isolation will be targeted for feedback into this inquiry.

“All Queenslanders will also be able to have their say.”

The inquiry will consider drivers, impacts, and effective responses to social isolation and loneliness, with a focus on vulnerable groups, including seniors, people with disabilities, and young people.

The pandemic heightened a sense of social isolation experienced by many people, Council on the Ageing Queensland chief executive Mark Tucker-Evans said.

“Loneliness is a condition affecting many Queenslanders young and old and is leading to poorer physical and mental health outcomes,” he said.

In 2020, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that the personal stressor most experienced by Australians during the Covid-19 pandemic was loneliness. (AAP Image/Alan Porritt)

“This inquiry will look at both these separate yet related issues and should assist in building stronger social connections.”

The inquiry is expected to inform the government’s existing efforts to tackle the issues.

“Through our Care Army, our network of more than 125 neighborhood and community centers, and other initiatives, we’ve been working hard to address social isolation in our communities,” Enoch said in a statement.

“We support person-centered, trauma-informed approaches to helping people connect and access online or face-to-face with support to address social isolation or loneliness.

“Our frontline housing and homelessness services are positioned to work directly with people to help develop tenancy and support connections.

“These areas go hand in hand with addressing social isolation and loneliness, ensuring that Queenslanders are able to stay digitally connected in their communities and socially connected in their neighborhoods.”

This Inquiry will further complement our work and aid us in developing and implementing a strategy to address this issue further.”

Findings are expected to be reported on December 6.

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Ojaswin Kathuria. Map by Urvashi Makwana)

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