The Morrison Government is supporting senior Australians through two new initiatives to prevent loneliness and social isolation under a $6 million communications package.
Thirteen organisations in O’Connor will share in $57,500 funding under the Be Connected program to provide digital devices such as laptops and tablets to older residents.
In addition almost $5 million will be used to significantly expand Friend Line, a national telephone support service for older Australians, to answer 60,000 calls a year.
Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson said the Be Connected grants would fund the purchase of digital devices to loan out to people over 65 who are socially isolated so they can connect with friends and family during the Coronavirus.
“These grants will help improve the online skills of our senior residents who are increasingly turning to the internet to access online services during the coronavirus while expanded access to Friend Line will make sure that no seniors feel lonely or isolated,” Mr Wilson said.
“Access to support as well as digital and social connections are essential to support older Australians to live independently.
“With a third of all senior Australians living alone there is a real need for this assistance to alleviate loneliness and social isolation.”
The Be Connected program will be delivered in partnership with the eSafety Commissioner and the Good Things Foundation.
Funding for Friend Line would enable it to expand the service through to 30 June 2024.
“Friend Line is a free and anonymous telephone service that will provide older Australians an opportunity to chat with a friendly volunteer,” Mr Wilson said.
Friend Line (1800 4 CHATS) will rapidly expand to be available outside normal business hours between 10am to 8pm, seven days a week.
The latest investment comes on top of a new support line offering specific advice and counselling for senior Australians seeking assistance because of COVID-19.
Established in conjunction with the Council on the Ageing Australia, National Seniors Australia, the Older Persons Advocacy Network and Dementia Australia, the COVID-19 support line will operate Monday to Friday, except public holidays, from 8.30am to 6pm on 1800 171 866.
Recipients of Be Connected funding in O’Connor include:
|Organisation Name||$ Amount||Town|
|St Stephens Lutheran Church||$2500||Katanning|
|Mount Barker Community Resource Centre – WA||$5000||Mount Barker|
|City of Albany||$5000||Albany|
|Denmark Community Resource Centre||$2500||Denmark|
|Macedonian Australian Welfare Association – Kogarah||$5000||Kogarah|
|Hopetoun Community Resource Centre||$5000||Hopetoun|
|West Arthur Community Resource Centre||$5000||Darkan|
|Kojonup Historical Society||$5000||Kojonup|
|Walpole Community Resource Centre Inc.||$5000||Walpole|
|Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association – SWADE||$5000||Walpole|
|Laverton Community Resource Centre||$5000||Laverton|
|Esperance Public Library||$2500||Esperance|