Parliamentary Inquiry to put social isolation under the spotlight

Published Thursday, 27 May, 2021 at 10:21 AM

Minister for Communities and Housing, Minister for Digital Economy and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

The Palaszczuk Government is delivering on its commitment to address social isolation and loneliness, today announcing a Parliamentary Inquiry on the issue in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister for Communities Leeanne Enoch said COVID-19 had a big impact on Queenslanders, particularly vulnerable people who are at the biggest risk of social isolation and loneliness.

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

“In fact, one in five Australians reported feelings of loneliness and social isolation as a result of the pandemic.

“That’s why during the 2020 election campaign we committed to undertaking a Parliamentary Inquiry on social isolation and loneliness during the first 12 months of Government.

“I am proud to announce that we are delivering on this commitment, and in Parliament today I referred this to the Parliamentary Community Support and Services Committee.”

The Parliamentary Inquiry will consider the drivers and impacts of, and effective responses to, social isolation and loneliness in Queensland communities.

Minister Enoch said that across the world there had been recognition of the issue of social isolation and loneliness.

“We know that social isolation and loneliness have a significant impact on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of many people,” she said.

“Queenslanders such as seniors, people with disability and their carers, people with mental illness and young people are the most vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness.

“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 provide 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 Parliamentary Inquiry has been welcomed by the Council on the Ageing (COTA) Queensland.

COTA Queensland Chief Executive Mark Tucker-Evans said the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the sense of social isolation being experienced by many people in the community.

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

“This Inquiry will look at both these separate yet related issues and should assist to build stronger social connections.”

The Parliamentary Inquiry is just one of the ways the Parliament Government is addressing social isolation and loneliness in the community.

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

“We support person-centred, 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 neighbourhoods.

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

The Parliamentary Inquiry into social isolation and loneliness is expected to report its findings by 6 December.

Media Contact: Pamela Frost 0437 859 987