Context statement: Social connection is important in shaping wellbeing across the life span. In contrast, loneliness can be harmful to both mental and physical health.
Results from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) longitudinal study show that over the past 19 years, around 1 in 5 to 1 in 6 people reported they often felt very lonely in any given year. While the overall proportion of Australians experiencing loneliness shows a small but steady decline from a high of 21% in 2001, to a low of 16% in 2009, rates have remained relatively stable at around 18% for the past 7 years (HILDA 2021).
According to the ANUpoll, the proportion of Australians experiencing loneliness reached a high of 45.8% in April 2020, falling to 36.1% in May 2020 but rising to 40.5% in August 2020; however, the rise from May to August only occurred in Victoria (Biddle & Gray 2021). The ANUpoll also showed that the proportion of people experiencing loneliness increased between April 2021 and August 2021 (35.3% to 44.5%), which was driven by increases in Sydney with the rest of Australia showing little change over this period (Biddle & Gray 2021).
For more information see Social isolation and loneliness.
For further information about loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic, see: The use of mental health services, psychological distress, loneliness, suicide, ambulance attendances and COVID-19.
The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey: Selected findings from Waves 1 to 19, 2021.
Biddle, N and Gray, M 2021. Tracking wellbeing outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic (August 2021): Lockdown blues. Australian National University: ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods.