The Huon Valley is one of 10 municipal areas around Australia that will set up a Village Hub with the aim of addressing loneliness and social isolation. The Huon Valley was a successful recipient of the Village Hubs Grants Fund, an initiative of the Australia Government’s Seniors Connected Program. The Village Hub aims to support active ageing in the Valley by building the community’s capacity to bring older Australians together through a range of local social, physical, learning, arts and cultural activities.
The funding will enable Huon Valley Council to employ a dedicated Village Hub link worker that builds the capacity and resilience of community groups through offering face-to-face and personalised services. The worker will facilitate referrals, community activities and take the time to support older people to improve their confidence and overcome barriers to increase connection.
The Huon Valley area has increasing challenges with loneliness and social isolation due to a whole range of reasons such as rising cost of living pressures, chronic health conditions, literacy challenges (including health and digital literacy), and housing insecurity. This combined with the population being spread over a large geographical and rural area, migration of new populations, and an aging population (over 37% over 55) is resulting in older people being unaware of existing programs and activities.
This new connecting model means that groups can develop networks with each other that will increasing the opportunity to link in with more isolated older people, increase inclusion in activities, reduce isolation and loneliness and help to build resilience.
The Council developed its Village Hub model in consultation with the Huon Valley Positive Ageing Working group.
In the coming weeks, Council will be advertising for a Village Hub Link Worker to lead the establishment of a network of Village Hubs across the Huon Valley.
Working with the Huon Valley Positive Ageing group, a Village Hub Network steering group will be established by the end of the year to provide guidance to the project. Members will include older people and community groups who provide activities for older people.
By mid 2022, a ‘warm referral’ pathway will be established to support older people to access local activities in their community.