Melbourne, 13 February 2023. To kick off 2023, leading life, health and wellbeing insurer AIA Australia has partnered with Ending Loneliness Together, a national network of organisations and individuals united to address the growing problem of loneliness.
Loneliness is often thought to be an experience that only affects older people or those who are physically isolated. However, it is clear now with robust scientific evidence1 that loneliness occurs across all ages, genders or demographics.
Before the COVID pandemic, one in four Australians aged 12 to 89 experienced problematic levels of loneliness, equating to five million Australians at any one time.2 Post the onset of the pandemic, it was estimated that at least one in two Australians have reported feeling lonelier due to reduced social connection.3
With loneliness growing in Australia, this presents a looming health challenge requiring urgent attention:4
- Loneliness is associated with a 26 per cent greater risk of premature mortality, a 29 per cent increase in the incidence of coronary heart disease and a 32 per cent increase in the risk of stroke
- Lonely older adults have a 58 per cent higher risk of developing dementia compared with their less lonely peers
- Compared with smoking and obesity (recognised as key health issues), loneliness is equivalent to the mortality risk of smoking and exceeds the mortality risk of obesity
- Loneliness increases the odds of having a clinically diagnosed mental disorder (such as depression). Those with severe loneliness are 17 times more likely to have made a suicide attempt in the past 12 months.
Through the new partnership, AIA Australia and Ending Loneliness Together will raise awareness and educate communities about loneliness and its impacts on population health, wellbeing and productivity. In doing this, they hope to lift the stigma of loneliness and increase national recognition of loneliness as a health emergency so that more Australians have access to appropriate support.
Dr Michelle Lim, Chair of Ending Loneliness Together said, “Loneliness affects a significant proportion of our community but is widely misunderstood. While it is normal to feel lonely from time to time, the stigma of loneliness prevents people from opening up and seeking the help they need early. Without a collective national approach to understand, prevent, and reduce loneliness, the physical, social, and mental wellbeing of Australians will suffer. Our new partnership with AIA Australia will bolster our ability to work collaboratively and reach more Australians to change the trajectory of loneliness at an individual, family and community level.”
Damien Mu, CEO and Managing Director of AIA Australia said, “At AIA Australia, we’re passionate about increasing health awareness and supporting prevention-based activities, so we can help our customers and communities stay well.
“We know that loneliness is a growing issue in Australia and globally and it’s crucial that we raise awareness of this major public health issue. We’re pleased that we can extend our AIA Embrace ecosystem of wellbeing programs and partnerships to now include Ending Loneliness Together. By collaborating, we can drive improved health outcomes for all Australians so they can lead healthier, longer, better lives.”