Monday, 30 November 2020
Statements by Members
I've often spoken about my concern about loneliness, which is a crisis that affects too many Australians. It's been a particularly acute crisis throughout the pandemic. Before we'd even heard of COVID, one in four Australians reported feeling lonely some or all of the time. We know this isn't just something that's of vague concern; it has very significant health consequences as well as life course consequences. It damages communities as well as individual lives.
I was shocked but, sadly, not surprised by research indicating that statistics for loneliness have doubled over the course of the lockdown experience that has characterised the pandemic for so many Australians. I found this out when I had the great honour of launching Australia's first white paper on loneliness produced by the Ending Loneliness Together coalition last week. This is a shocking statistic but one of many. It shows us how much work we have to do to better understand how loneliness impacts Australians and the great diversity that is modern Australia. It shows us that we have much work to do to build an evidence base to allow us to put public policies in place that will effectively target loneliness. It shows that we have more to do in terms of listening and respecting experiences of loneliness and treating them with the seriousness that they deserve. Loneliness is a killer.