Telstra today called on Australians to start a conversation about loneliness after its Talking Loneliness report revealed 44% of Australians regularly1 feel lonely, and nine in ten have experienced loneliness, with half (48%) too embarrassed to admit it.
The Talking Loneliness report also found:
- More than half (54%) of Australians say they ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ lack companionship
- A quarter (24%) of Australians don’t feel they have anyone to talk to3, with Gen Z (32%) and Millennials (26%) the most likely age groups to feel this way
- Over a third (35%) of Australians admit they rarely or never feel like they are part of a group of friends
- Almost two in five (38%) Australians say they have never felt lonelier than they have felt in lockdown
The research was conducted for Telstra by YouGov in September 2021 in consultation with leading loneliness researcher and clinical psychologist Dr. Michelle Lim. It highlights the growing issue of widespread loneliness in Australia and explores its impact on individuals, communities and society at large.
Dr. Lim says loneliness is the next public health crisis facing Australia: “Loneliness, when persistent or severe, hurts our health, communities, and society. We need to work together as a community to combat loneliness.
“If you feel lonely, it is important to understand that your feelings are normal. Take small feasible steps towards managing your loneliness. You don’t always have to make more friends to be feel less lonely – look within your current network and consider how you can improve the quality of those relationships.”
Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn says while it was a significant societal issue beforehand, more than a quarter (27%) of Australians experienced loneliness for the first time during COVID.
“We know the pandemic has had a huge impact on mental health but now we also know how it has accelerated the widespread issue of loneliness,” Andrew says.
“Telstra has been connecting people for more than 100 years and today everyone and everything is connected. Despite this there are so many people in the community who feel disconnected. As a company with connectivity at the heart of our purpose, we are shining a light on loneliness and its impact.
- Respondents selected ‘often/always’ or ‘some of the time’
- Respondents selected ‘often/always’, ‘some of the time’, ‘occasionally’ and ‘hardly ever’
- Respondents claimed they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ feel that there are people they can talk to
“Sadly, there are many people in our community who are reluctant to speak up about something
that is having significant consequences – it could be your brother, neighbour or workmate and
you may never know.
“That’s why we wanted to challenge the preconceptions about who might be lonely and to
encourage Australians to find a sense of connection through their shared experience,” Andrew adds.
“This report with its call to action for Australians to start talking about loneliness is one way we
can bring focus to this growing issue so that we emerge from COVID and the pandemic fatigue
stronger as a nation and individually.”
To support this important cause, Telstra is also releasing a series of videos highlighting real
stories from nine Australians impacted by loneliness, as well as a dedicated hub with resources
and support tools.
“We are also donating more than 100,000 hours to help address loneliness in the community,
with our employees incentivised to use their annual day of paid volunteer leave to contribute to
eradicating loneliness through third-party specialist programs.
“This is a practical way that Telstra can contribute to being part of the solution as well as
supporting our team across the country to play their own part,” Andrew says.
For more of Dr. Lim’s advice on tackling loneliness, head to this link.