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Australians are Experiencing a Loneliness Crisis

What can we do to combat the increasing levels of loneliness in Australia?

A lonely elderly man
Image via Pixabay 

According to a recent OmniPoll survey of 1200 Australians, on average we have 3.9 close friends, which is in stark contrast to 2005, when Aussies said they had 6.4 friends.

A survey by Lifeline of 3100 people in 2016 found that 82.5 percent of Australians felt lonely, and now the statistics seem to show things are not improving.

The OmniPoll survey also found that 17-percent of Australians had no friends they could visit without invitation.

News Corp Australia has also released data from Relationships Australia, which shows that 15-percent of men had no close friends outside of their long-term relationship, compared with 8-percent of women.

However, loneliness is not just confined to Australia. A recent survey by Cigna in America, of over 20,000 people, found that nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone. It also found that the loneliest generation is generation Z, which includes adults aged between 18-22.

Labor MP Andrew Giles recently addressed the loneliness epidemic in parliament. While the government announced funding in the budget to combat loneliness for the elderly, Andrew spoke of how it can impact anyone.

In speaking to the chamber, he said it’s time “We work to better understand its [loneliness’] consequences… As individuals we can and we should all reach out to those around us, but as a country we must making ending loneliness a national priority for our national government.”

Speaking with the Daily Telegraph, digital expert Kristy Goodwin believes the infiltration of technology into many facets of our lives was partly to blame. However, Alison Brook, national executive officer for Relationships Australia, said loneliness is a result of being “time poor… with less time for community engagement and neighbourhood connections.”

Hopefully we can find a way to combat loneliness, because according to a Harvard study in 2010, loneliness has the same effect on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.