Seniors Connected Program
The Seniors Connected Program (the program) implements a key part of the Government’s 2019 election policy ‘More Support for Older Australians’. The intent of the program is to address loneliness and social isolation experienced by older Australians aged over 55 living the community (or Indigenous Australians aged 50 or over).
With a third of all senior Australians living alone there is a real need for assistance to alleviate loneliness and social isolation. Some older Australians, face new challenges and stresses associated with retirement and ageing, such as increased social isolation and loneliness (a third of all seniors live alone) which, in turn, can impact their mental health and wellbeing.
The program will run from 2019-20 to 2023-24 (terminating 30 June 2024), with a total budget allocation of $10 million (GST exclusive) encompassing two activity streams: Nationally expand the existing phone support service delivered by Friends for Good (FriendLine); and expand the number of Village Hub projects across Australia.
Friends for Good has increased the capacity of their telephone service FriendLine (1800 4 CHATS) offering older Australians an opportunity to call and have a free, anonymous, friendly chat with a volunteer over the phone.
FriendLine is a national service, with volunteers located in five locations across Australia. FriendLine is open from 10am to 8pm, seven days a week.
More information on FriendLine can be found on the FriendLine website.
FriendLine support comes on top of the Department of Health’s ‘Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line’ (1800 171 866) offering specific advice and counselling for senior Australians seeking assistance because of COVID-19. More information on Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line can be found on the Department of Health’s website.
Independent Living Assessment Incorporated (ILA) is the National Grants Manager under the Seniors Connected Program. ILA will assist the Government to select and administer grants to other organisations to operate new Village Hubs across Australia. New Village Hubs are expected to be established from mid-2021.
Village Hubs will bring older Australians together in their community to progress activities that support good mental and physical health as well as better connections to the local community. The initiative builds on a number of existing Hubs and targets people aged 55 years and over (or Indigenous Australians aged 50 or over) living in the community. The Government is seeking to establish at least ten new Village Hubs across Australia through this initiative.