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New fund to tackle social isolation and loneliness among older women

lonely old woman at home

The Palaszczuk Government has announced a new $2.5 million fund to invest in community-driven responses that aim to reduce the barriers experienced by priority groups in building belonging and community connections.

Acting Minister for Communities and Housing Glenn Butcher said Round 1 of the Stay Connected Fund will form part of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to address support for women over 55 experiencing social isolation by delivering better services right across Queensland.

“We know that social isolation and loneliness have had an impact on vulnerable Queenslanders, particularly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic” Mr Butcher said.

“Everyone deserves to feel like they belong, but many people who have been through a crisis too often feel isolated and alone and that is why we are launching this fund to support vulnerable people to reconnect with others in their local communities.

“Under this first round, funding will be available for individuals and organisations to deliver culturally responsive, place-based and person-centred projects that will address social isolation and loneliness among older women.

“This program links with the Palaszczuk Government’s response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Social Isolation and Loneliness and our commitment to act on all the recommendations from the inquiry.

“As a government we are committed to addressing the issue of social isolation and loneliness in our communities and the Stay Connected Fund is one of the tools we will use to do this.”

The Stay Connected Fund replaces the successful Dignity First Fund, which provided more than $12.5 million to more than 160 projects across Queensland from 2016 to 2020.

“The Stay Connected Fund builds on the success of the Dignity First Fund, which provided funding towards innovative approaches to supporting Queenslanders who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness,” he said.

“Funding was made available to organisations to deliver localised services to reduce the impact of homelessness, and help people live with dignity by targeting projects that improve life skills, tenancy skills, education and employment opportunities.

“There was also a Dignity First Fund COVID-19 Response that supported people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic by funding organisations to deliver immediate services to support vulnerable people across Queensland.

For example, thanks to Dignity First funding, the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre helped young people experiencing homelessness improve their lives through access to training and employment, the Inala Family Accommodation and Support Service provided tenancy establishment packs for families leaving transitional housing and Althea Projects prepared and delivered meals to rough sleepers and vulnerable tenants in Townsville.”

The Dignity First Fund was a key action of the Queensland Housing Strategy 2017–2020 Action Plan.

Each year the new Stay Connected Fund will focus on a different group in the community.

Minister Butcher said that not only were older women more vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness, but they were also the fastest growing demographic experiencing homelessness in Australia.

“I’m pleased that the first round of the Stay Connected Fund will have a particular focus on responses for older women, aligning with commitments in the Queensland Housing Strategy 2017–2027 and the Queensland Housing and Homelessness Action Plan 2021–-2025 and the new housing and support hub for older women announced earlier this year,” he said.

“Research shows that older women are more likely to experience homelessness for the first time later in life and can become homeless because of a change in circumstances such as an increase in rent, relationship breakdown, reduction in income due to casual or part-time employment, or death of their spouse.

“That is why this fund will prioritise projects that have a focus on vulnerable older women and complement other local supports available for older women in Queensland through the new housing and support hub for older women.

“Initiatives that support older women who identify as First Nations people, people with disability, members of LGBTIQ+ community, people experiencing homelessness, those exiting care or living in rural, regional and remote communities are strongly encouraged to apply.”

For more information on the Stay Connected Fund, visit https://www.chde.qld.gov.au

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