REAL AUSTRALIA

All the lonely people. Where do they all come from?

ONLY THE LONELY: A new nationwide survey reveals a loneliness epidemic permeating the country, particularly impacting one in three young adults, aged 18-24.
ONLY THE LONELY: A new nationwide survey reveals a loneliness epidemic permeating the country, particularly impacting one in three young adults, aged 18-24.

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by The Border Mail journalist Jodie Bruton.

COUNTRY dwellers worried their sex lives are not up to scratch can stand down.

We're all good unless we're aged over 75 or, somewhat surprisingly, between the ages of 18 and 24.

Port Macquarie is the most sexless city in Australia. Again, I can't fathom why, but maybe it's because their surfing spots are superior.

There is nothing like a national survey to make waves, however.

Showing on ABC TV on Monday night, the Australia Talks project was based on the results of a survey of 50,000 Australians.

Among the most alarming trends, the data revealed an epidemic of loneliness permeating this country.

Worryingly, one in three young adults is lonely and it's having a real impact on their mental health.

The survey found loneliness was a bigger problem for those living in large cities than in remote areas.

VITAL CONVERSATIONS: Michael Donehue, of Alcohol and Drug Education Specialists, urges people to speak up if they're struggling.

VITAL CONVERSATIONS: Michael Donehue, of Alcohol and Drug Education Specialists, urges people to speak up if they're struggling.

The rural Victorian city of Benalla - which has made its mark via the innovative Wall to Wall street art festival - has been quick to think outside the square on social disconnection.

A new calendar being launched there on Friday forms another part of the town's three-year suicide prevention trial.

The 2020 Connect Benalla calendar includes positive messages and information about support services on the ground.

It will be free to every Benalla home and includes tips on how to start a conversation with someone who may be thinking about suicide.

Benalla-bred Michael Donehue, who is now a national services manager with Alcohol and Drug Education Specialists, will share his story at the launch.

Diagnosed with depression aged 21, Michael first noticed symptoms five years earlier.

"I was suffering the mental health roller coaster; I was up the top, then I was down," he says.

"It took me a long time to open up about the way that I was feeling because being a smaller town I didn't really want people to know what I was going through."

IN FOCUS: Hopeful, determined and brave, Solstice follows the journey of people, families and groups striving to ignite change in the mental health system.

IN FOCUS: Hopeful, determined and brave, Solstice follows the journey of people, families and groups striving to ignite change in the mental health system.

On the border, Albury-Wodonga Winter Solstice has been shining a light on mental health and suicide on the darkest day of the year for seven years.

Now a documentary about the winter solstice will be used as a resource to ignite changes to mental health policy Australia-wide.

The idea came about after Newman was asked to film the 2018 Albury-Wodonga Winter Solstice for Survivors of Suicide gathering.

With 3000 Australians dying by suicide each year, Newman says it is critical we "hear the voices of those most affected by suicide to understand the changes that will be most effective".

It's never been more timely.

Solstice will preview at Albury's Regent Cinemas on Saturday. More details, here.

  • If you or somebody you know needs support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 44 or lifeline.org.au

Jodie Bruton,

Journalist, The Border Mail

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