MEDIA RELEASE - Council leads initiative to combat social isolation

With the COVID-19 pandemic having taken a toll on the normal social interactions many of us previously took for granted, Sutherland Shire Council is leading an initiative aimed at tackling the social isolation and loneliness still felt by many in the wake of the pandemic.

Working with key local service organisations and leading experts in the field, Council is throwing its support behind the upcoming ‘Loneliness Forum’ to be staged on Wednesday 23 February, a full day event that will bring residents, local community services and groups together to collaborate and gain resources to combat social isolation within our community.

The forum will feature advice from leading authorities in the field, with former President of the Australian Psychological Society, Ros Knight, and Dr Michelle Lim representing ‘Ending Loneliness Together’ among those set to address attendees at the event.

Sutherland Shire Mayor Councillor Carmelo Pesce said Council is pleased to lead this initiative as part of its ongoing efforts to support local service organisations and help those most at risk of social isolation.

“One of the things I love most about the Sutherland Shire is the incredibly supportive sense of community we share here – local residents look out for each other and are always there to lend a hand to those in need. However, we have to be mindful that there are some in our community for whom this isn’t their day-to-day experience,” Mayor Pesce said.

“Social isolation is a complex issue, it’s something which can affect people from all demographics and all walks of life, and it’s an issue which has clearly intensified over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to support the wellbeing of all residents in our community, particularly as we continue to face social hardship from the pandemic, and the best way to start is by opening the door to have conversations where people can speak comfortably about their mental health and learn how to stay connected with local support services.”

The forum will be delivered online over two parts, with the first being open to anyone interested in connecting and hearing from the expert guest speakers to gain practical tools to combat loneliness and advice on which services to turn to for support.

The second part will be an afternoon workshop for Sutherland Shire community support services and groups, to provide advice on how to build and promote initiatives that can effectively address loneliness, and brainstorming sessions for solutions to provide lasting social support and opportunities to improve wellbeing for all members of our community.

“Loneliness is a public health priority that is overlooked, under recognised and under-appreciated,” Dr Michelle Lim said.

“We need to help frontline workers to understand how to identify, monitor, and help people who are vulnerable to loneliness.”

Registrations must be submitted before COB Monday 21 February. To register and for more information, visit: or call Council’s Business and Community Services Team on 9710 0422.