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 loneliness increased social isolation, which 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 older Australians seeking assistance because of COVID-19. More information on the Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line can be found on the Department of Health’s website.
Village Hubs bring older Australians together in their community to participate in activities that support good mental and physical health as well as better connections to the local community. Village Hubs target support towards people aged 55 years and over (or Indigenous Australians aged 50 or over) living in the community.
The Village Hubs National Grants Manager, Independent Living Assessment Inc (ILA), selects and administers grants to organisations with the aim of extending the existing Village Hub network across Australia. Following a recent selection round, ILA has entered into funding agreements to establish the following ten new Village Hubs:
Caboolture Queensland Village Hub, delivered by Bolton Clarke Queensland
The Caboolture Village Hub will link older Australians to local schools and universities to expand intergenerational relationships and activities.
Goolwa Victor Harbor South Australia (SA) Village Hub, delivered by Council of the Ageing SA
The Goolwa Victor Harbor Village Hub will provide a sustainable, peer led Hub, built around helping people to live and age well.
Alberton South Australia Village Hub, delivered by The Pear Neighbourhood Node
The Alberton Village Hub, based out of the Pear Coffee House, will adopt a unique approach to fostering social connections and will leverage existing partnerships in the area.
Perth Western Australia Village Hub, delivered by GLBTI Rights in Ageing Inc (GRAI)
The GRAI Village Hub will be led by and for older LGBTI people, offering multidimensional peer support and service development for the community.
Pingelly Western Australia Village Hub, delivered by Pingelly Somerset Alliance
The Pingelly Village Hub will enable older people in the small, isolated, rural communities around Pingelly, Wickepin, Cuballing and Wandering to age well in the bush, with a volunteer network to connect members across a vast rural area.
Belmont and Bayswater Western Australia Village Hub, delivered by Umbrella Multicultural Community Care Services
The Belmont and Bayswater Western Australia Village Hub will establish a ‘neighbours supporting neighbours’ program where members can assist each other with day-to-day tasks.
Huon Valley Tasmania Village Hub, delivered by the Huon Valley Council
The Huon Valley Village Hub will connect and support smaller regional hubs and groups offering activities for older people.
Macedon Ranges Victoria Village Hub, delivered by the Macedon Ranges Shire Council
The Macedon Ranges Village Hub will engage older people with local services and activities such as online connection and health ageing pop-up events, with a focus on increased participation in social support activities and reducing isolation.
Far North Queensland Village Hub, delivered by Synapse Queensland
The Far North Queensland Village Hub will provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders a culturally safe space to maintain and expand their leadership role, by sharing their stories and wisdom with different mobs, across generations.
Hornsby Village Hub, delivered by Sydney North Health Network
The Hornsby Village Hub membership model will provide a sense of belonging and ownership with social, physical, learning, arts and cultural activities aimed at improving well-being and mental health for older people.
Further information in relation to the new Village Hubs is available at https://www.ilaustralia.org.au/villagehubs or you can contact the Village Hubs team at firstname.lastname@example.org. ILA will update their website as Village Hubs become operational.
Seniors Connected Program Evaluation
The Department has engaged Urbis Pty Ltd to evaluate the Seniors Connected Program between June 2021 and June 2023. The evaluation has two phases: a Post Implementation Review and a Program Evaluation:
- The Post Implementation Review will be undertaken from June 2021 - March 2022 and will provide evidence and findings on how the two activities have been implemented, including any barriers or enablers to successful implementation.
- The Program Evaluation will be undertaken from January 2022 to June 2023 and will seek to understand the outcomes achieved by the two activities against the evaluation domains of reach, appropriateness, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability.