A new Australian Red Cross survey reveals around one in three Australians recall feeling isolated or lonely last festive season. Close to half said it was because friends and family were far away, and four out of ten felt out of place with those nearby.
As Australia turns its focus to reconnecting with friends, family and festive celebrations, Red Cross launches its annual Season of Belonging appeal.
CEO of Australian Red Cross Judy Slatyer said: “Our survey shows that one in three of us felt a little lonely this time last year, and that others have more meaningful social connections. As we approach the festive season, we should all try and be welcoming to those around us, and continue to do so throughout 2019.”
“December is very much a time when Australians celebrate with loved ones and the good news is seven out of ten people have plans on the festive public holidays, but those who felt lonely last year, are less likely to have any made plans.
“As the country embraces a wonderful spirit of generosity, let’s harness that and start doing small things to make everyone belong. This can include giving someone a compliment who might need it, to being kind on social media.
“While many people do feel positive and grateful at this time of year, around 1 in 2 feel they don’t have the same rich social connections that everyone else does.
“Time and again our experience shows us that a connected community makes us stronger, more resilient, and more likely to bounce back from adversity. We see that in emergencies when people have someone to call on when disaster strikes.
“Red Cross volunteers will be standing by many Australians on Christmas Day, making phone calls in the morning for the isolated and elderly, through to having lunch with someone who might not have family, to being the person to turn to for help, should disaster strike.
“This festive season, I’m calling on the lucky country, where things are good for many, to spread a little kindness, in their own communities and beyond.”
Top tips to make this the season of belonging
- Be kind on social media
- Say hello to neighbours and check in on those friends you haven’t heard from
- Give someone who has had a tough year a compliment, or an anonymous kindness card
- Connect with a community of likeminded people: volunteer at Red Cross or a cause you feel passionate about
- Support Red Cross to deliver services helping socially isolated people form meaningful and life affirming connections.
For more ideas on how you can help or to make a donation visit redcross.org.au/act
The way we remember last festive season
- Around 1 in 3 (35%) people remember feeling lonely or isolated last festive season, with one in two (47%) saying it was because they were away from friends and family and four out of ten (38%) feeling out of place with those nearby.
- Seven out of ten people are confident they will have plans on Christmas Day, but those who felt lonely last Christmas are almost 20% less likely to have plans.
How much do we feel we belong during the festive season?
- Around 1 in 3 (34%) feel very connected; around 1 in 4 (26%) people feel moderate to low levels of connection and around 1 in 20 (5%) feel very disconnected.
- Women aged 45-64 are most likely to feel very disconnected during the festive season whereas those 18-24 felt least disconnected
- Those living alone and unemployed or unable to work are more likely to feel very disconnected.
- For a lot of us, tis the season to be jolly, but many are less positive about their social connections
- More than half of us agree (56%) that during the festive season, we felt more grateful for what we have, and around 2 in 5 (40%) say they find it an easier time to connect.
- However, people are less positive when thinking about their connections, with 1 in 2 (51%) people saying they feel they have less social connections than a decade ago, and nearly 1 in 2 (45%) feel less connected than those they know.
- Around 4 in 10 (41%) say they go out of their way to connect with others.
Note to editor Australian Red Cross with Qualtrics conducted a survey with a representative sample of over 1,000 people from across Australia above 18 years in late November 2018.