SA launches Community Connections program to combat social isolation
The SA Government has launched the Community Connections program, supporting the making and strengthening of social and community connections for South Australians who are at risk of social isolation.
The Community Connections program will link isolated adults with the right connections at the right time to improve individual mental health, independence, quality of life and overall health outcomes.
The program’s services are available to socially isolated adults aged between 18–64, or 18–49 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The state government will deliver $41.7 million over the next two years to fund twelve weeks of targeted support to those who need a little extra help to live full and independent lives.
The program came about after the state government had extensive consultations with organisations operating within the community services sector.
Community Connections program is expected to be delivered across metropolitan and regional South Australia by 16 not-for-profit organisations.
The state government will also partner with regional local health networks, Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, community passenger networks and carer support organisations in the delivery of services.
Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink said a short-term dose of extra help would reap long term benefits to individual mental health, wellbeing and independence.
“There is strong evidence that social inclusion – having supportive relationships with people and groups outside the home – is linked to improved quality of life and better health outcomes,” Minister Lensink said.
“Support provided will take many forms and could be as simple as helping somebody join their local library, transporting or accompanying them to activities outside the home to build their own social skills, or providing in-home help while they regain their independence.”
Minister Lensink said that trained and dedicated staff in the program will work to the specific needs of each client to leave them better-off, more capable and less likely to require government support in the future.
Community Connections program sits alongside federal reforms such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), My Aged Care and National Carer Gateway. These reforms serve the purpose of providing ongoing support for vulnerable South Australians.
“We know there are many hidden South Australians who don’t qualify for national schemes but need a little bit of extra help to get back on track or reconnect within their communities – and this is the cohort we’re targeting,” Minister Lensink said.
“We’re proud that this program was designed hand-in-hand with leading sector organisations across South Australia, who are experts in community services and have first-hand understanding of the kinds of help people need to get back on their feet.”
The SA Government will measure the outcomes from the new services and work with the providers in order to adjust the program if needed.
South Australians can access the program through any Community Connections provider, who will then link them with community passenger networks for access to services most appropriate for their needs.
The program commenced on 1 July 2021 and will proceed onwards.