Combatting loneliness for older Territorians

Joint Media Release with Minister for Aged Care The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP

Community organisations are being called on to help combat loneliness and social isolation in the Northern Territory, with the Coalition Government committing $46.1 million to the national Community Visitors Scheme.

Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, said the new funding would support local organisations to recruit volunteers to provide vital friendship and companionship, through regular visits to ageing people receiving Commonwealth-subsidised aged care services.

“I have raised concerns that up to 40 per cent of aged care home residents have no family members of friends who come to see them, with all the residents in one WA home I visited recently receiving no visitors for a whole year,” Minister Wyatt said.

“These are devastating statistics and demonstrate the importance of the Community Visitors Scheme, whose volunteers can play such crucial roles in the lives of ageing Australians.”

Country Liberals Senator for the Northern Territory, Nigel Scullion, commended the local volunteers who were already providing visitor services through Anglicare NT.

“I know how much the older people they visit look forward to the social interaction,” Senator Scullion said.

“It can be as simple as taking the time to ask how their day has been but it is fundamentally important for their wellbeing.

“That is why we would like as many local community groups as possible to consider applying for Community Visitors Scheme funding.”

Anglicare NT currently offers the Community Visitors Scheme in Darwin, Katherine, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek.

Anglicare NT CEO Dave Pugh said volunteers with the Community Visitors Scheme help older people remain connected with the community.

“Their eyes light up when their volunteer visits. A real and lasting connection is often made between the pair, and it’s not just the older person who benefits. There are many fun activities they do together including playing cards, reminiscing about life, visiting a museum or going out for coffee. Even walking around a garden and having a cup of tea is a good experience for everyone,” Mr Pugh said.

The funding covers the period from 1 January 2019 to 30 June 2021.

Applications close at 5pm (AEDT) on Tuesday 12 June 2018. Information about how to apply is available through the Government’s grants information system: Grant Connect