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 will increase the capacity of their existing 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.
The program will expand the FriendLine service to be available nationally from 10am to 8pm, seven days a week.
More information on FriendLine, including current FriendLine hours, 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.
Expanding the number of Village Hubs will give more older Australians the opportunity to connect to a network of residents in their community for social activities and mutual support to improve mental health through the benefits of increased social and community connections.
The Village Hubs typically provide a diverse range of member-led social activities such as:
- physical: walking groups, excursions and fitness classes (e.g. Yoga)
- social: trivia, fundraising events, morning teas, lunches and dinner events
- learning: guest speaker programs, digital skills mentoring
- arts and cultural: art classes, book club, choir.
It is anticipated the program’s Village Hubs expansion will commence establishment in 2021.
Further information about the department’s grant opportunities, including grant opportunities in relation to the expansion of Village Hubs, will be published on the Australian Government’s GrantConnect website.