The CQUniversity Rockhampton Region Engagement Committee (RREC) provides a bi-directional voice for industry and community with and between CQUniversity. Exploring & addressing community issues and supporting the training & educational industry needs for the region, are top priorities for the Committee. The Committee comprises of a range of community stakeholders from business & industry, government agencies, local councils, community groups, micro to macro sized organisations, representing a cross sector from the region. At the end of 2016, the RREC was asked to host a community discussion, the topic was to be determined by the Committee, the one condition stipulated by CQU, was for the topic to be a concern/issue which the Committee saw in our local community.
With the Committee aligned to the core values of the University – Engagement, Leadership, A Can-Do Approach, Openness and Inclusiveness and tasked with organising a community discussion, the Committee first had to decide upon what the topic should be. RREC members put forward numerous suggestions, all ideas were considered, most aligned to specific sectors or age groups and therefore narrowed the breadth of community members that the discussion would reach. The other factor, was that the topics suggested, already attracted funding and human resources from State & Federal Governments.
CQU Associate Vice-Chancellor Rockhampton region, continued to explore our local community, taking a ‘helicopter view’ she observed the people around her, neighbours with automatic garage roller doors (so no chatting over the fence) teenage children and their friends thinking they were connected by communicating on electronic devices (have to disconnect to connect) FIFO & DIDO workers (12 hour shifts, often with extended number of weeks on site so rarely at home) separated and divorced families (friends & family choosing to stay in touch with either one or the other, often not both) government shift to keep elderly people in their homes for longer (someone doing the shopping or coming to clean the house for 2 hours a fortnight doesn’t reduce loneliness) lifestyle with more people than ever living alone and more couples having one or no children, people with disabilities, professionals relocating for work (particularly young people just graduating) and the list goes on. Loneliness does not discriminate, is across all ages, across all economic & social sectors, live in remote areas or live in metropolitan, loneliness has crept silently into our communities. From this observation Loneliness was proposed and ultimately supported and endorsed by the RREC.
A small sub-committee was formed to initially coordinate the community loneliness forum and therefore achieving the set task, host a community discussion. The interest from community participants (70+ people of all ages) was overwhelming.
Outcomes from the forum discovered three problems put forward and discussed from community participants.
Consequently, the RREC recognised loneliness was a big problem in our community and endorsed the Loneliness project sub-committee.
Sub-committee members negotiated industry funding which funded Phase 2 of the Loneliness project; outcomes included:
The Loneliness Project “Empowering Connections – Ending Loneliness” was created out of Phase 2 and paved the way for implementation of Phase 3.
Phase Three commenced working on the execution of the priority topics – Smile Zone, Hello Neighbour, Connectivity Packs and Conversation Corners.
Like many committees made up of volunteers we have had times of traction and times of grinding to an almost holt, one underlying commitment which motivates the Committee to continue is our recognition that loneliness can touch everyone, young, elderly, employed, unemployed, people with families, people without family. Loneliness does not discriminate. Loneliness can lead to depression, which can lead to other health and social problems and issues.
Whilst loneliness is regarded as the worlds hardest problem to solve, in February 2021 we became an incorporated committee – End Loneliness.
15 September 2021
The End Loneliness Committee lodged a 12 page submission to the Queensland Parliament is inquiring into social isolation and loneliness in Queensland….
31 August 2021
After 5 years of research and development into this important initiative the launch of End Loneliness Inc. has been scheduled for 23…
29 July 2021
The Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service approved the first ‘Smile Zone’ at the Rockhampton Hospital.
16 March 2021
End Loneliness was officially incorporated on 16 March, 2021.