In this age of Facebook, Instagram, and other social media, it seems we are more disconnected than ever. Loneliness and social isolation are an emerging health issue, with some surprising consequences. Feeling lonely can pose a bigger risk for premature death than smoking or obesity, and has a greater impact on wellbeing than stress or anxiety. Loneliness doesn't discriminate. One in eight young people report a very high intensity of loneliness.
I'd like to acknowledge the member for Scullin, who led calls for a national response to loneliness. I am lucky enough to have a group of residents in my electorate—soon to be renamed Cooper—who are also working to tackle loneliness with an idea called 5up5down. 5up5down is a call-out to people to connect with their neighbours. Invite five people from up the road or up the stairs and five people from down the road or down the stairs. Get together, get to know each other and have fun, but, more importantly, connect and be there for one another.
We've heard about the power of a simple idea. Ian Kiernan, the founder of Clean Up Australia, decided that something needed to be done about rubbish collecting in Sydney's harbours. His idea has mobilised 40 million volunteers globally and left a lasting impact on how Australians care for our environment. 5up5down will do the same for loneliness and social isolation. As Hugh Mackay would say, the better world you dream of starts in your street. I'd encourage everyone to host a 5up5down event. Extend the hand of friendship. Let's connect the world one person at a time.